Friday, January 9, 2009

"They all get eaten by dinosaurs"

If you liked reading The Darcys and the Bingleys, you can tell Marsha Altman’s publisher that you want to read the other nine in this series. They’re already written, and take the characters all the way to their deaths (although odds are she’s kidding about the manner of their demise). Personally, I find that a little time in sequel-land goes a long way. It’s kind of like ordering a gin martini, which I do once every fifteen years on account of my father and aunt used to drink them, and I always thought one day I’d learn to like them. That still hasn’t happened, but there’s no harm in checking, is there?

Book Two of The Darceys and the Bingleys, The Question of Consent, is an entertaining story in its own right. Pride and Prejudice fans should know that it is farther away from the world of Jane Austen than the first part: Elizabeth rides unescorted from Scotland to London, Darcy gets shot and reacts to pain medication much the way he reacts to liquor, and then Elizabeth, Bingley, and Georgiana all make fun of how “out of it” he is. The story of Caroline Bingley is brought to a satisfying matrimonial conclusion, during the course of which anachronistic-sounding dialogue and stage direction take place, such as this example:
“Are you done emasculating my husband now?” Elizabeth snickered.
“I think he is,” Darcy said with his usual extreme formality that came down like a wet blanket.
But if you’re reading The Darceys and the Bingleys just for the story, and not because you love Pride and Prejudice, you will find Book Two the best part, because it’s a story that can stand by itself. And it has drama (what J. Kaye was hoping for)!

A lot of loose ends are tied up in Book Two, but I wonder if one, in particular, is tied up a bit too tidily to be entirely true to human nature… Dr. Maddox, who is in love with Caroline Bingley, is treating a wound his brother Brian sustained while in league with the villainous “Lord” Kincaid who was only after Caroline’s small fortune. Naturally, Dr. Maddox is extremely angry with his brother, but “his first instincts, surprisingly, were to run to his brother who slumped to the ground when Kincaid pulled the blade out. Years of his profession could not undo his inclinations…” Okay, so given this, why does he later refuse to give his brother pain medication, not just once, but “every time” he asks? Why does he shake him, hurting his chest wound, before finally showing mercy and giving him his “legendary opium concoction” with Caroline’s blessing? This doesn’t strike me as likely behavior for a doctor, however grievously wronged and no matter how drunk. What do you think?

Also I’m not entirely happy with the notion that it takes a child to truly unite a couple, which is the note on which this novel leaves Elizabeth and Darcy. That seems to me a peculiarly recent idea, and not one that I particularly like.

But, overall, I’m not unhappy that I spent the time to read and think about this novel in such detail. It’s a good story, and I found it an enjoyable indulgence.

J. Kaye is also wrapping up our chat today at J. Kaye's Book Blog.


Anonymous said...

LOLOL @ "Two the best part, because it’s a story that can stand by itself. And it has drama (what J. Kaye was hoping for)!"

I just said the same thing. :)

Anonymous said...

Question about "But, overall, I’m not unhappy that I spent the time to read and think about this novel in such detail."

You didn't like the book? Really? I thought from your posts she stayed true to character of P & P. So that's a no?

Anonymous said...

UGH! Sorry, I read "I am not happy..." I was thinking I must have misread your previous post. Sorry, it was this one I misread!

Can you tell I had very little sleep last night? ;)

Jeanne said...

I was lapsing into snotty English professor-speak, I'm afraid. I try not to be snotty, and really I'm not, but sometimes what I say comes out that way, from years of being around it (my parents were profs)!

Jeanne said...

Also, gentle readers, I'll be here again in about an hour to chat some more. I got my wish (from back in November) about going to a conference, and I'll be in the air for an hour while I begin the process of flying to glamorous Allentown, PA. Whoo-hoo!

Anonymous said...

Ooooo...have fun!

The Rejecter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marsha Altman said...

Man, there were so many mistakes in the second section! Some of them were cleared up in editorial but then somehow didn't make it to the final version (a lot of cooks go into the final-book stew in publishing) and some just weren't caught, because it's historical fiction and because I wandered out of traditional Austen territory, so they were harder to catch. There are a TON of books on what people ate and on what order to address sons and daughters and how to address them, but very little on, say, treating nerve damage in 1807. There are SOME, just not as many. The main reason I like reviews (other than, you know, compliments) is that people catch mistakes so that they don't appear in later books.

I've found Austen fans are very slow to accept new characters, myself included. I've read most of the Austen sequels in existence, and I could name, say, 5 new characters that stuck out to me, even if they married someone important (Georgiana usually gets married in a sequel). That's why I didn't introduce anyone major in the first story. I was very nervous about, but people have to marry somebody, and Caroline Bingley had to marry someone who was the opposite of Darcy because she chased Darcy in P&P, but still someone likable. I hope people liked Dr. Maddox, because he's in, you know, the next two books.

I'm logging off at 4:28 today for the Sabbath, so if anyone has a question for me after that, you can leave it here and I'll answer it Saturday night or you can email me.

Jeanne said...

I did like Dr. Maddox. I was wondering if anyone would defend him from my criticism--it does seem like it would be good to know more about him. How else are we to know if he's good enough for "our" Caroline Bingley?

The Green-Eyed Siren said...

Thanks for reviewing this. I had hesitated over it, ultimately deciding that it went too far afield for me to enjoy it, and your review confirmed that suspicion. And thanks for visiting my new blog!

Dreamybee said...

This sounds like a good read. This might prompt me to finally read Pride and Prejudice.