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A campy, madcap adventure story, Mr. Darcy's Great Escape is Marsha Altman's third book, in her Pride and Prejudice Continues series. The year is 1812, seven years after Elizabeth Bennet and her devoted sister Jane married Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley respectively, and the families are all returning to Longbourn for the wedding of Kitty Bennet, daughter number four. Within the first 100 pages, Elizabeth Darcy finds herself immersed in the intrigues of the Napoleonic War as she races across the continent to the rescue of Mr. Darcy, who has become imprisoned in a medieval cell in Transylvania! Unbelievable? Quite, but hang on . . . there's more.
Licentiously diverting is Altman's treatment of her own original character's as well as Jane Austen's canon characters. Altman's Mr. Darcy was half brother to George Wickham who he apparently killed in a duel in Book 2, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A Tale of the Darcy's and the Bingley's. And, Darcy's other illegitimate brother Gregoire, by his father's dalliance with his mother's French maid, is now a monk in Austria and favors prominently in this bold undertaking. Mary Bennet is now the mistress of Longbourn, although having been compromised while on tour of the Continent. (also in Book 2) Oh, and there is also an utterly convoluted entail of Rosings that deems Darcy as heir apparent, regardless of the fact that Anne is now married to Colonel Fitzwilliam. And, if that is not enough action there is also an insane Oriental assassin en route to Pemberley. This is all cleverly forged to create an eyebrow raising, humorous, 486 page saga.
Wild? Far-fetched? Contrived? Yes, to all. But Marsha Altman bravely undertakes this continuation of Pride and Prejudice and makes it entirely her own. Although inspired by Jane Austen's masterpiece, little if any of Austen's original is obvious in this series. However, that's not to say that readers won't enjoy this fun romp. In the same vein as the British ITV series "Lost in Austen," those that want more of the Darcy's and the Bingley's might find this wicked tale a satisfying joke. "I can hardly write for laughing."