Suspense and Sensibility or, First Impressions Revisited: A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery Paperback – Oct 30 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Jane Austen fans who regret the author wrote only six full-length novels have reason to rejoice: Bebris's second Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery is even better than her strong debut, Pride and Prescience (2004).In the spring of 1813, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy agree to sponsor Elizabeth's sister Kitty for a season in London along with Darcy's 17-year-old sister, Georgiana. In the course of their social rounds, Kitty meets Harry Dashwood - a younger cousin of the Sense and Sensibility Dashwoods - and the courtship begins. Mr. Darcy makes inquiries into Harry's character, fortune and expectations, but no sooner does he receive favorable answers than the suitor begins to behave most strangely. Harry gives a friend the "cut direct" outside Boodle's Club, and there are rumors of gambling and worse excesses. It's up to Darcy and Elizabeth to discover the cause of these aberrations, and, if at all possible, see Kitty happily established. The author smoothly combines characters from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility while remaining true to Austen's originals. A few elements of the paranormal help illuminate the mores of the period. Regency romance readers will also be delighted.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Thoroughly 'light and bright and sparkling'," in the best Austen tradition with a dollop of murder and mayhem to leaven the whole. A delight.” ―Stephanie Barron, author of the Jane Austen Mystery series on Pride and Prescience
“Well crafted ...Bebris works her own brand of Austen magic, whetting the reader's appetite for a sequel...Taking a lighter approach than Stephanie Barron's sleuthing Jane Austen series this one should appeal as much to Regency readers as to Austenites.” ―Publishers Weekly on Pride and Prescience
“Charming” ―Booklist on Pride and Prescience
“Mannered prose, Regency backdrops, moody country houses, and delightful characterization place this new series high on the to-buy list.” ―Library Journal on Pride and PrescienceSee all Product Description
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After the unsettling events chronicled in "Pride and Prescience," Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy had happily left London in order to return to the peace and tranquility of Pemberley. But a letter from her mother reminds Elizabeth of her obligation to see her younger sister, Kitty, credibly established. And so, Elizabeth and Darcy, with Kitty and Georgina (Darcy's younger sister) make for London in order to partake in all the festivities that constitute the London Season. Georgina, an heiress, has no troubles attracting suitors; but for Kitty, young girl with no fortune or impressive connections, the situation is quite different. So that when young Harry Dashwood of Norland, shows every sign preferring Kitty above all else, everyone is quite pleased. A young man of good fortune and an impressive estate, Harry Dashwood is quite the catch. So what if his mother is an unpleasant shrew who isn't pleased at all with her son's involvement with Kitty! But then soon after their engagement, Harry's behaviour and character seems to change almost overnight; and it's beginning to look as if Harry intends to emulate the scandalous behaviour of his great-grand uncle, Sir Francis Dashwood, one of the founding members of the Hellfire Club. The changes in Harry trouble Darcy and Elizabeth greatly, but they're not sure what to do about it. Their primary object is to protect Kitty from an imprudent match; but can they also save Harry from himself?
Written with slight gothic overtones, "Suspense and Sensibility" was a rather like and sparkling read. Carrie Bebris incorporates characters from Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" into this installment, and the result was wholly pleasing. The story may take a while to unfold since almost half the book dwells on Harry's courtship of Kitty, before things go so very wrong. But the strength of this novel lies in how the authour fleshed out her characters, so that she makes us care for them. Kitty, in this book, has grown up a little, and has gained some dignity and maturity. And Harry, for the first half of the book is an engaging and likable character as well. And it was nice to "meet" Elinor Ferrars again; it was even enjoyable to see how Lucy Ferrars (once Lucy Steele) had fared, as well as Harry's unlikeable mother, Mrs. John Daswood. Best of all however, was reading of how Elizabeth and Darcy interact as a married couple, united in their concerns and each bolstering and supporting the other. A trifle sedate in pace, but written with a light touch, "Suspense and Sensibility" proved to be a very enjoyable and worthwhile read.
Who wants to read about protective amulets, ghosts, and supernatural explanations that are virtually science fiction when looking for a mystery? While I see lovers of Jane Austen gravitating toward the mystery genre, I don't see fans of Elizabeth Bennet thinking it makes sense for her to be sporting protective amulets and venturing into the world of sci fi.
Miss Bebris has got talent and could turn this into a decidedly decent series if she found real plots and plausable explanations. Otherwise, market the book as science fiction.
The characters of Elizabeth and Darcy can be intriguing, and the inclusion of the Dashwoods is a promising point. However, the minor Dashwood characters seem to be included simply because they are Dashwoods - they don't further the plot or the subplot in any meaningful way, they don't offer insight into character that hasn't already been expressed -- rather, they clutter up the narrative landscape. They seem to appear only so that Austen fans can say - "Oh, how lovely. There's Marianne and Col. Brandon." What a waste.
Additionally, it's absurd to even categorize this as a mystery since the reader knows the truth in the very first chapter before any of the characters do. Therefore, the constipated narrative focuses not on suspense but the characters' mind-numbingly dull plod towards the truth- a realization which only happens at the end of the book! - far too late to salvage anything of the lame plot. Too, the author's unfortunate over-reliance on coincidence- "oh, I need to see blank" and poof, like magic he appears!" strains the bounds of credibility far more than the plot premise of the Darcys engaging in the supernatural.
The hackneyed ending of the subplot, which is never adequatley explored to be warranted, is straight from the annals of a bad Harlequin romance.
This book doesn't engender hair-raising suspense -- it engenders hair-tearing frustration. There too many other fine additions to the Austenite canon, including the first entry of this series, to waste your time and money on this sad romp through the Hellfire Regency.
The beginning of the book is plausible, but as the story progresses, Bebris seems to lose control of the way the plot is going and simply gives a quick fix to the protagonists' dilemma. The solution is seemingly out of the blue and therefore ends the book on a feeble note.
If you read Bebris' first Mr and Mrs Darcy book and want to continue the series as I did, borrow the book from the library first. That way, if you do decide that you like it, your money won't have been wasted on some frivolous romp.