The Plight of the Darcy Brothers is yet another Pride and Prejudice sequel.
I hadn't read the author's previous book (The Darcys and the Bingleys) but was soon able to pick up on what happened in that book to some of the characters familiar from Austen's original.
The Darcy brothers? Surely there's only Mr. Darcy and Georgiana. But no, this story has a central plot of a surprising discovery by Mr. Darcy that he isn't his father's only son. Part of this plot works well, another part
isn't very convincing, but the many other side-plots and events in this book mean
that it is varied.
Varied, yes; interesting, no. I found myself rather bored by the story at
times, partly because the characterization feels particularly weak. People do things, say things to each other, but
one doesn't get a sense of what these people are really like. The story has moved on a fair bit from the end of Austen's novel, and the cast list has grown significantly with various children of the Bingleys and Darcys; I didn't feel any kind of connection with any of these characters apart from Dr. Maddox.
What really grates for this English reader is the setting. Although the author has done some historical research (for example, the journey that Darcy and Elizabeth make to Rome
is well-written), she comments that she's had to depart from history in some areas. She specifies those areas
- to do with monasteries, for example - but that didn't bother me. What did really irritate me
is the way that her characters depart from 19th-century conversation and behavior
and appear to be American.
This is most marked in the children and in discussions about the children. We English find a lot of the ways in which Americans discuss and refer to children as a bit cringy - it's a cultural difference - and my toes curled throughout this book, particularly when the children were referred to as 'adorable' (not an adjective used by us, for example).
Many of the errors in dialogue are unfortunately common for American-authored books.
The behavior of people just didn't sit quite right to me. Perhaps I am being overly picky, but it just makes the book feel like it
isn't a Regency England story but is instead set somewhere in America. Even some of the names used (Geoffrey, Brian) don't feel quite right for the period.
The wide-ranging plot has much to recommend it, with a real variety of events. The finale
is pretty unbelievable, but by that point I'd really given up on the book and was relieved when it was finally over. This story will appeal to many readers, but its deficiencies outweigh its good points for this reader.