pemberley-by-sea1This is a modern, loosely-retold version of Pride and Prejudice. Very loosely. Overall, this one is a mixed bag for me.

Ms. Reynolds has made Lizzy into Cassie, a brilliant marine biologist with a past and family she’s afraid will come to haunt her.  Mr. Darcy is Mr. Westing, the privileged son of a Senator (think John John Kennedy) who has already essentially told his family where to go and what to do with their aspirations for him–instead he writes novels under a pseudonym that Cassie loves. They meet at a dance; he’s rude; she’s mad.  The Jane and Bingley characters do their part to move the story forward.  Cassie and Westing have a premature tryst that leaves them both wanting more, but her hating him for it.

I actually really like everything about this story until they leave the resorty/science town at the beginning. It feels fresh and both characters seem true to the Pride and Prejudice theme (dare I say brand these days?).  I’m less enamoured with the story thereafter. It’s almost as though Ms. Reynolds has used the P&P characters to get her started on a tale she wanted to write, but that had nothing to do with P&P.  The tale sort of unravels with Cassie/Lizzy very out of character, not taking risks or saying her peace for fear of discovery of past wrongs that really don’t turn out to matter much.  The Darcy/Westing character is slightly more Darcy, but the latter half of the story makes him seem a little bit like a weenie.  There’s a point also where there’s this whole book within a book thing going on that ends up mostly confusing.

I’m always willing to like Austen spin offs, and generally, I feel like I give them a lot of latitude to try and make something of themselves. But in this case, I feel like I want to ask Ms. Reynolds to tear off the last 2/3 of the book and keep doing what she was doing in the 1/3.  Because it worked. For me though, the rest did not.

If you’re a die hard who is not married to canon or strictly canon-like behavior, you can give it a whirl. Otherwise, this is probably a pass.  However, you’ll note on Ms. Reynolds web site that this is the first of four books telling stories about Woods Hole. Since that is where the only portions of the tale happened that I like, I will be waiting impatiently the arrival of the other three tales, hoping that the magic she created in that sea side town will flow through to those other stories.

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