|Title: Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma
Author: Diana Birchall
Genre: Historical fiction
# pages: 212
Date read: March, 2008
Review: In this sequel to "Pride and Prejudice" we are introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Darcy 25 years later. They now have three children of their own: the youngest, Jane, takes after her namesake and aunt, Henry is the image of his father, but unfortunately Fitzwilliam, the elder son and Darcy's heir, is a bit too much like his aunt Lydia for his parents' liking. This becomes all too apparent when Mrs. Darcy invites Lydia's daughters to come for a visit, and Fitzwilliam looses his heart to the elder, thus embarking on a scandal that will upset the entire family.
While amusing, the plot unfortunately offers little new to the reader, who'll be able to guess the ending at a very early stage. Instead the strength of the novel lies in Diana Birchall's writing style. She has studied Jane Austen's writing closely, and her fidelity to this style - in both words and plot - enables her to cross the line between "fanfiction", and a novel worthy of being a sequel to one of the great classics. The characters are exactly as I remember them - which is almost a shame in the case of Lydia, as she is precisely as intolerable as always, making me occasionally want to put away the book in disgust over her behaviour. Elizabeth is as kind as ever, and while ardent admirers of Mr. Darcy will regret that he makes such a small appearance, when he does show up on the pages, he is exactly the loving husband loyal readers expect him to be.
I seldom read sequels written by a different author, as I fear nobody will be able to do the original author justice. This is especially the case with my favourite authors, and I was therefore somewhat reluctant to start this book, but had not turned many pages before I saw that Diana Birchall had managed to do what I deem most important in any sequel - she had managed to capture the spirit of Jane Austen. For that alone I could easily forgive her the predictability of the novel, and enjoy it for what it was - a loving homage to one of England's greatest writers.