Please Let This Be the Start of Another Splendid Series!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
In a style similar to Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and the first draft of Sense and Sensibility(Elinor and Marianne), bestselling Austenseque author, Amanda Grange’s newest novel, Dear Mr. Darcy, retells Pride and Prejudice in epistolary form. Want to see what Darcy wrote to his cousins while living at Netherfield? Observe the Bennet sisters’ correspondence with their friends, the Sotherton sisters? Witness the letters sent to and from Mr. and Mrs. Bingley and their children? Amanda Grange enables readers the opportunity to see all this and more in her illuminating and brilliantly executed Dear Mr. Darcy.
What I loved most about this retelling was the numerous and diverse list correspondents readers witness exchanging letters throughout the course of the novel. Besides Elizabeth and Darcy, readers observe the communications between Wickham and his cohorts, Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Gardiner, Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy, and Mr. Darcy Senior and his son Fitzwilliam amongst many others. These characters help give a thorough illustration of everything that takes place in Pride and Prejudice by portraying the events through their varied and unique perspectives. After a major event, such as the Netherfield Ball or Lizzy’s refusal of Mr. Collins, it was interesting (and amusing) to see the differing and detailed accounts recorded by several different characters.
Another aspect I took great pleasure was Ms. Grange new creations, the Sotherton sisters and the Bingley parents. The Sotherton sisters are three sisters who are friends with all five Bennet sisters. But because of their father’s drinking and gambling problem, they are forced to abscond from their beloved Netherfield Park and retrench to Bath (like the Elliots do in Persuasion). Moreover, in Pride and Prejudicewe never meet Mr. and Mrs. Bingley, but we know of their background and ambitions. And while we don’t see it taking place in Jane Austen’s novel, we could assume that the Bingley siblings were often corresponding with their parents. I enjoyed how Ms. Grange implemented these characters to enhance and flesh out the events of the story. Not only do they enlighten the reader about what is taking place, they are a source of high entertainment as well!
Speaking of entertainment, I cannot believe I am saying this, but my favorite epistler in this novel would have to be Mary Bennet! Mary corresponds with the middle Sotherton sister, Lucy, who is very similar in tastes and disposition to Mary. I just loved witnessing these two exchange letters about their quests to become a “Learned Women,” their new tastes in literature, their “books of extracts,” and Mr. Shackleton…
Masterful, dynamic, and absorbing – Dear Mr. Darcy is sure to please Janeites who appreciate the art of letter writing and are interested in seeing Pride and Prejudice retold through epistolary form! This reader dearly hopes that Amanda Grange will take up her quill, blotter, and wax sometime soon and gift the Austenesque genre with another Jane Austen novel in epistolary form!