Sep 262009

The Descendants of The Bennet’s and The Darcy’s in the 21st Century

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

What would the descendants of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet be like? Would they resemble their ancestors and walk in their footsteps? Would they care about their illustrious ancestry and take interest in their origins? M. K. Baxley ventures to answer the above questions in her debut novel, The Cumberland Plateau where descendants of Bennet and Darcy families meet and discover that their family histories are intertwined and that they are the fulfillment of a promise made long ago. . .

The year is 2006 and there is an abundance Darcy and Bennet relations residing in England and the southern part of the United States. Elizabeth Bennett is returning to her hometown in the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee to teach mathematics at the local university with her sister Jane Bennett. Much to his father’s chagrin, Fitzwilliam Darcy has decided to pursue his dream of being a Classics professor before inheriting the family business, Pemberley, a multinational conglomerate. David Darcy, Fitzwilliam’s younger brother, is reputed as a profligate and promiscuous playboy who has vowed that he will never marry. Cecilia Lawton, President of Lawton & Co., lives in Charleston, South Carolina, but because of her parents’ unhappy marriage and her broken heart, she hardens herself against love. Ms. Baxley creates an interesting and diverse cast of character, however, the most captivating and heartrending characters in this saga were David and Cecilia. Both characters were strong, distinctly developed, proud, and completely against marriage. What a combination and what chemistry!

Ms. Baxley’s Fitzwilliam Darcy shares a lot of personality traits with his ancestor, Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. He is proud of his heritage, honorable, and places great importance in duty and family. In this book he withstands trials and tests of strength and he handles them as discerningly and judiciously as his ancestor. Ms. Baxley’s Elizabeth slightly resembles Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet. She is bold, witty, and intelligent; yet she is not as developed and interesting as the other characters. In addition, I would have liked to seen Elizabeth have a closer relationship with Jane, her sister. Jane was a very minor character in this book and I missed the intimate and loving sisterly bond.

Included in this tale are several tasteful and sensual love scenes, they are not graphic, lustful, or explicit. If you are familiar with the works of Abigail Reynolds, these love scenes are in the same vein as hers. Furthermore, if you are familiar with Linda Berdoll’s love scenes, Ms. Baxley’s loves scenes are much more mild.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this distinctive and originative account of the Pride and Prejudice descendants. It is a compliment to the author that the 500+ pages of this book did not feel tiresome or too lengthy. In my opinion it was the perfect length for the author’s purpose. The photographs included of the picturesque scenes helped create a beautiful backdrop and was a nice addition. However, I would have appreciated a family tree diagram or map, as it was a little confusing keeping track of how everyone was related, especially when each family has several siblings and a lot of names are used in more than one generation (i.e. Elizabeth, Edward, Jane). Furthermore, some themes and occurrences seemed to be a little overdone. For example, the descriptions of the historical and expensive homes and the legend of the white doves. They both were great concepts, but it sometimes felt a little redundant and too much time was focused on them.

M.K. Baxley’s debut novel, The Cumberland Plateau, shows a lot of promise and potential. Its creativity and ingenuity will be refreshing to fans of Pride and Prejudice sequels and para-literature. I recommend this book for readers interested in reading a new twist on the Pride and Prejudice family, readers that have an open mind, and people interested in family heritage and history.