Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
In this massive compilation twenty-two skilled authors with a fervent devotion to Jane Austen collaborate to give readers an anthology filled with imaginative snapshots and scenes to accompany Pride and Prejudice. This comprehensive tome is filled with over 160 short stories (ranging 2-10 pages in length) that illustrate intriguing sub plots, conversations that didn’t take place on page in Pride and Prejudice, and retellings of famous scenes from a variety of diverse point-of-views. While many of these vignettes still center upon Darcy and Elizabeth, there were others that held the spotlight over other characters like Charlotte Lucas, Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, and Mr. Denny.
MY READING EXPERIENCE:
I read this compilation over the course of four months and rather than read all the stories straight through in succession, I chose to pick up this anthology in between other reads. Sometimes I’d read just a handful of stories, other times I’d read a hefty chunk of 100-150 pages (which could be anywhere between 15-30 stories total). I greatly enjoyed reading the compilation this way. The stories were self-contained, satisfying little morsels – wonderful glimpses of the characters, events, and life we all love to immerse ourselves in. Some stories had an underlying thread or connection with each other which I thoroughly enjoyed.
What a challenging feat this must have been! The Austen Authors Collective did a marvelous job of creating stories that were entertaining, illuminating, and varied. I am amazed at how well the stories were able to fit together and how the frequent change of author’s voice didn’t prove distracting or jarring. Congrats to these authors for collaborating so well together!
WHAT I LOVED:
- Anything About the Servants: Whether it was seeing the daily journal entries of Netherfield’s housekeeper or witnessing scenes below stairs where the servants would speculate over whether Mr. Darcy proposed to Elizabeth, I loved seeing the servant class receive some page time! In fact, I would have loved to have seen more (not like Longbourn though – that was only about 5 servants and a little too dark and gritty for my taste).
- Charlotte Lucas’s Surprising Tale: This was a very intriguing twist for practical and supposedly unromantic Charlotte. Definitely evoked some emotion and brought some tension and heartache to the compilation. However, I was sad to see the story taper off towards the end, would have loved seeing more of her tragic love affair!
- The Comic Relief Bits: I loved Lydia Bennet’s adorable sense of humor in some of these stories, to hear her thoughts – just hilarious! Oh, and I had big belly laughs over Mr. Collins’s prized cucumber. 🙂
- The Hursts: Yes, I know! How unlikely, right? There were only two stories of this seemingly unhappy couple, but I dearly wish we had a dozen more! Such an interesting take on their relationship and private personalities.
- Lady Catherine and Anne De Bourgh: I enjoyed every trip to Kent in this anthology – Mr. Collins’s interview, Miss de Bourgh’s failed attempts to attract Mr. Darcy, and Lady C’s diatribes over Elizabeth’s refusal to refuse Darcy. I particularly enjoyed seeing a more spirited and not-so-insipid Anne.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Repeated Scenes: In the introduction it is mentioned that a conscious decision was made to leave all stories “as is” even if there were inconsistencies in timeline or repeated versions of the same event, I appreciated this warning and understand why the decision was made. And while it was confusing to see events like Easter Sunday occur in different parts of the month, it didn’t prove too distracting. In truth, the stories that felt were repetitive and not quite as engaging were the ones that didn’t show anything new or different to what has already been written. I refer mostly to the scenes from Mr. Darcy’s POV. Of course I love Darcy and love seeing the story from his eyes, but that’s been done before with many authors and series. While these stories were indeed “scenes Jane Austen never wrote,” they were similar scenes illustrated in other books and couldn’t help but feel a little repetitious.
If Pride and Prejudice is one of your favorite novels and you long to spend your days visiting the inhabitants of Meryton, Kent, and Derbyshire, Pride and Prejudice: The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote is the anthology for you! A superb companion to Jane Austen’s masterpiece and most deserving of a place on every Janeite’s bookshelf.
And the best news is, it looks like this talented group of authors is at it again with their Persuasion 200 Project! Can’t wait!