I’m torn on this one. I think maybe I wanted to dislike it. Overall, it wasn’t a waste of time. And it was very well-written–enough so that I read it long after I should have on any given night. Sometimes it’s nice to get pulled into a story that way. But at the end I was frustrated and a bit dissatisfied.
It’s post-WWII in England, largely. A young American woman working in England who loves Jane Austen runs into a girl who claims that her relatives live near a house that was the inspiration for Pemberley. So the American girl visits one weekend, mentions her Jane Austen interest and gets pointed in the direction of a couple who live in a little town not far from the manor who have been compiling a history and records of  family that had lived there for centuries and who they believe Darcy and Elizabeth were. There are some very nice touches of letters and diary entries shared throughout the story that are quite delightful to imagine as the truth behind the story. And surprisingly, they round out several characters like Mary Bennet, for example.
As the vehicle for this discovery and sharing of all things P&P, the American girl forges a friendship with the family such that she becomes almost a surrogate daughter to them and their history and story also become important for the girl to learn. There are letters and visits back and forth from the small town to London, where she meets and falls in love with an ex fly boy with commitment issues. Your heart breaks a little bit for her as you see her heading down the tunnel vision for marriage and he clearly doesn’t have that on his mind. But at the end, I wanted to throttle her for behaving EXACTLY THE SAME WAY!!!!!!!!! She didn’t really deserve the quality guy she ends up with because it turns out that she is nearly as obnoxious as the fly boy. And the really irritating thing about it is that she simply doesn’t see that.
From a view back into history, it was eye-opening. There are lots of lovely details about how long England was saddled with rationing even post-war and just how that affected their daily lives and considerations. And I adore most stories where I can be a fly on the wall in that type of setting.
If you’re a Jane Austen freak, sure, read it. It’s not a total waste of time. And prepare to be mad at the girl at the end. If you like Austen and have nothing better to read, again, it’s probably worth your time. If you’re wondering who I’m talking about and whether it’s something to do with that strange movie that Keira Knightley was in, uh, this isn’t for you. I would take the time to read something else by Simonsen again though–her writing really is gripping.
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