Review: The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman

darcyTitle: The Plight of the Darcy Brothers

Author: Marsha Altman

Genre/Pages: Regency Romance/368

Publication: Sourcebooks; August 1, 2009

Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS

 

Second in a series, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers finds Fitzwilliam Darcy making hasty travel plans to the Continent to save yet another Bennet daughter from scandal.

It’s been an unintentionally (though enjoyable) Austen-esque summer here at Chez Book, Line, and Sinker. In addition to Altman’s terrific sequel, I’ve been (slowly!) working my way through the Spanish version of  Pride and Prejudice and finished Prada and Prejudice, at the recommendation of another blogger.  

part of my 'on the nightstand' stack
part of my 'on the nightstand' stack

It seems that Jane Austen fans can be divided into roughly two camps: the purists and the rest of us.  Austen purists may struggle with contemporary authors serializing Pride and Prejudice (or the other novels), but I think that if the author does his or her research and tells a solid story, these sequels can find success and have a place in the literary world.  (Take my poll at the end of this review and tell me how you feel about serializing classics!)

Marsha Altman is one such author, creating a realistic continuation of Pride and Prejudice while seamlessly incorporating new characters without detracting from the original story.  The Plight of the Darcy Brothers is the second installment in her continuing series and though I haven’t read the first book, had no difficulty following this story.

The novel follows Darcy and Elizabeth as they travel to the Continent, Italy specifically, in an effort to save the reputation of yet another Bennet sister.  Along the way, Darcy comes to learn several shocking things about his father and the Darcy family.  As they travel on, Darcy wrestles with  internal conflict, trying to come to terms with what he’s discovered.

Altman’s skillful use of narration helps the reader understand what motivates each character.  Told in the third-person omniscient, we can see into the minds of the majority of characters and it gives the story greater depth and authenticity.  Austen herself also wrote in this narrative style.

Altman doesn’t skimp on details and fills readers in on all the characters from the original novel.  The subplots keep the story moving and it’s a quick and entertaining read.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and have plans to read the first book shortly.  Readers who can’t get enough of Pride and Prejudice should give Marsha Altman’s series a whirl. 

Thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for this review copy!

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21 Comments

  • At 2009.07.30 00:40, Connie said:

    I recently became overwhelmed by the amount of Jane Austen fanfic on the shelves, but this actually sounds good! Thanks for the review, and for restoring my faith in Austenites!

    • At 2009.07.30 07:27, bermudaonion said:

      I’ve only tried one Austen sequel and it didn’t do anything for me. I’m not sure if it was the genre or if it was the particular one I tried.

      • At 2009.07.30 08:28, vivienne said:

        Why is it that Jane Austen seems to be being singled out amongst the other great authors of that period. Why are her characters getting there own books. I grew up in a household that loved Thomas Hardy and yet these days his books have been forgotten. It is such a shame.

        • At 2009.07.30 08:28, vivienne said:

          Not saying that the Jane Austen books are not good, just wondering why she is be given such a major revival.

          • At 2009.07.30 08:29, sagustocox said:

            I really enjoy these serials and spinoff when they are well written.

            great review and another one for me to keep my eyes out for.

            • At 2009.07.30 08:56, erinstraza said:

              Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve read just one such Austen: Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride, by Helen Halstead. I enjoyed it!

              I recently saw this title at Barnes and Noble: Price and Prejudice and Zombies. The cover was NASTY! Not sure what that series is about, but I don’t think I’ll dive in.

              • At 2009.07.30 09:16, Amy Reads Good Books said:

                I agree. . .I like the spin-offs when they written well. I’ll have to check out these. Thanks for the review!

                • At 2009.07.30 09:55, Steph said:

                  I am anti-sequels. Maybe it’s because I’ve read a few books that just seemed like abominations to what Jane had created, but it made me realize that as much as I might imagine what happened to Lizzie & Darcy after their happy ending, I don’t actually need to read about it. Some things are just best left as they are, and I think this is true with Austen’s books. I don’t want to read about Lizzie’s struggles to bear an heir, or whether Knightly and Emma have a rough patch in their relationship. I prefer to view them as Austen intended and leave it at that.

                  • At 2009.07.30 15:24, Megan said:

                    Oh, I love me some Austen fiction! I’m partial to modern characters who get involved in some sort of Austen-esque situation — like Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict — but I read all varieties of JA fiction. Great review — I was wondering about these books! I’ll add them to ye ole TBR stack.

                    • At 2009.07.30 17:24, Marsha Altman said:

                      Thanks for the review!

                      To answer Vivienne’s question,

                      These things sort of come in waves. Austen was popular in the early 90’s, peaking shortly after the 1995 miniseries, when a lot of sequels were written and published in 1997-1998. Then things were mostly quiet until 2005 P&P movie. A lot of the older books were re-bought and re-released by publishing companies trying to capitalize on the new mania and then BBC decided to re-do all of the books in miniseries form (except P&P, which they felt they couldn’t top), to the point where it becomes a non-vicious cycle, until there’s a glut and everyone gets sick of it.

                      I was very fortunate to have written a book in time for the period when Sourcebooks was buying a lot of Pride and Prejudice books, and that was book 1, my first big break in publishing. That did well, so they bought books 2 and 3. If people like those, they’ll buy book 4. So a lot of it is audience response feeding what becomes available.

                      • At 2009.07.31 08:27, diaryofaneccentric said:

                        I don’t have a problem with it. I’ve read some that were so-so and some that were really good. I don’t start reading them expecting them to be just like Austen’s novels, though.

                        –Ann

                        • At 2009.07.31 09:00, Megan said:

                          P.S.

                          On a totally random note, I finished Perfect Fifths last night!!! Oh, god, I didn’t want it to end. Totally loved it and felt such intense, awesome resolution about everything, but I’m devastated that I have to say goodbye to Jess and Marcus — and won’t get to see them in the hereafter. And I so blame you for my misery! 🙂

                          • At 2009.07.31 14:45, vivienne said:

                            Wow – thank you Marsha for replying to my question. I am very impressed that you took the time to answer it. I would love to see a Thomas Hardy revival as well though. Anyway, good luck with your book.
                            Thanks Nat for letting me know!

                            • At 2009.07.31 15:02, Marsha Altman said:

                              Well, it’s a question a lot of people have been asking or at least wondering. Even I think it’s getting a little out-of-hand and I’m a sequel author! Hopefully people will just stick with the series so Sourcebooks will keep buying it and it’ll keep coming out every year or so, not because of some Austen mania (which will definitely die down in the next 6 months, if not sooner).

                              • At 2009.07.31 20:06, Samantha said:

                                I read Altman’s first book and really enjoyed it. I will be picking up the 2nd one at some point so thanks for sharing your thoughts!

                                • At 2009.08.01 02:13, Karen said:

                                  I wouldn’t classify myself as a purist and I do enjoy reading some of the Austen spin offs that are around – they just have to be good!

                                  • At 2009.08.01 06:54, Beth F said:

                                    I’ll have to try these. The sequel I’m reading now (my first) is not particularly great. But I have enjoyed Austen-inspired books and movies.

                                    • At 2009.08.03 02:15, emma said:

                                      Why do you keep doing this to me?!? You review one book in a series, your review intrigues me, and then suddenly I’m stuck with 5 books on my “must read” list. You did this with Jessica Darling (which I devoured), and now these – you are breaking me, I tell you!

                                      • At 2009.08.03 19:47, Stephanie said:

                                        Altman is a skilled writer. So glad you enjoyed this book!

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