Monday, July 27, 2009

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers
By Marsha Altman
Copyright 2009
Sourcebooks - Historical Fiction
359 pages
Marsha Altman's Website

"It belongs to the abbey," his brother protested. "Not to me."

"I will personally pay for the abbey to acquire a new one if they press me on it," Darcy said. "You will have to find a new way to torture yourself. Try falling in love with a woman who despises you."

--from the uncorrected Advanced Copy of The Plight of the Darcy Brothers (changes may have been made)

I just whipped through The Plight of the Darcy Brothers and since we have a 90% chance of thunderstorms, tomorrow, I thought maybe I should go ahead and type up my review, while I'm waiting to become sleepy (I'm not very good at the sleep thing).

Last year, I read The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman (click on the title to read my review) and I loved it so much -- in spite of the fact that Mr. Darcy was definitely not entirely Jane Austen's Darcy and there was an inordinate amount of giggling about the marital bed -- that I requested the next book in Altman's series the moment it became available. I certainly hope Marsha Altman's going to continue with this series.

As with its predecessor, one has to be willing to set aside the real Jane Austen and let the author take the reader on a wild ride. And, truly, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers is just that. It's a wild ride. In this installment, pious Mary finds herself in a heap of trouble. Darcy and Elizabeth set out for the continent in order to help her ("to clear her reputation", it says on the book cover). While they're in France, Mr. Darcy discovers that his father kept a terrible secret from him and Georgiana. Actually, two secrets.

At Chatton, the Bingleys' country home, the house is brimming with activity as Jane and Bingley take in Darcy and Elizabeth's precocious 2-year-old, Geoffrey. Jane and Bingley have, at this point, a daughter Geoffrey's age and a younger set of twins. With the addition of Mary and Mr. & Mrs. Bennet, the house is bursting with activity.

In town, Caroline Maddox (née Bingley) is expecting her first child and her husband, Dr. Daniel Maddox, finds himself in the midst of a bit of a royal mess, literally, as he treats a wounded man in a brothel and then discovers the true identity of the man he treated.

I can see why the cover blurb is a little bit vague. I've written the description in my own words and skipped the bleak opening, but I find myself choosing to be equally shifty because there is so much that happens in The Plight of the Darcy Brothers that is surprising and adventurous that I hesitate to give anything away. Let me just say this:

4/5 - Another rollicking fine adventure with the Darcys and Bingleys, well-written (but not perfect -- expect a bit of American vernacular to creep in) and ridiculously fun reading. The author has written notes on the historical inaccuracies contained in the two books at the end. Read this if you like a lot of plot twists and don't mind a book that goes off on dramatic tangents from the original Austen. Like her first book, Altman managed to inject a fair amount of wit and humor.

Snitched from the author's website:

"Marsha's first book was a story about an alien who came to earth because he won a contest. It was 24 pages long (about 25% bad artwork) and written in fourth grade. It was never published because it was written by a 4th-grader."

I thought that was hilarious, not only because . . . well, it is funny . . . but also because my first book was roughly that length, written in the 4th grade, never published for the same reason, and was quite the opposite -- the story of three young girls who travel to Mars, where they set up a space station and become friends with the aliens. If it hasn't been destroyed in one of our many floods, I probably still have it somewhere. I thought my aliens were really cute, though.

Many thanks to Danielle of Sourcebooks for this advanced reader!

14 comments:

  1. This book sounds absolutely fantastic. I still haven't read a single P&P spin off ir sequels, but I would love tor ead this one. Adding it to my wishlist.

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  2. You've reminded me that I have The Darceys and Bingleys on the shelf and still haven't gotten to it yet. Hmmm--wonder when I can fit that in.

    Perhaps it's like movies that you've already read the book for--some distance is good in order to keep the two separate in opinion. I would think if one is constantly comparing these books to Austen, there might be a big of disappointment? I'll keep that in mind when reading D&B.

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  3. Violetcrush,

    Read The Darcys and the Bingleys first, if you do dip into this series. I'm not certain whether the second book can stand alone without knowing what happened in the first!! Plus, The Darcys and the Bingleys is great fun. :)

    Trish,

    I loved that book so much that I loaned it to a friend (provided she was willing to ship it back). I hope you end up enjoying it . . . whenever you get around to reading (know that "if I can fit it in" feeling).

    That's a good comparison. She takes the characters in directions that seem totally wrong for them, and yet you have such a good time reading about them that it's worth working to set aside the real characters and just allow the author to play. There were things I refused to believe could possibly happen to MY Darcy in The Plight of the Darcy Brothers, but I decided, "What the heck. I can always go back to my original image after I close the book." At least I had fun! :)

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  4. I tried one Austen sequel that my mother raved about, but it didn't do much for me, so I've been avoiding them ever since. It sounds like I need to give them another try.

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  5. Kathy,

    I think you really have to be able to let go of the real Jane to tolerate spin-offs (and, actually, so far, Altman is the only spin-off author I've been able to stand). Don't feel bad if they're not your thing. You have plenty of great reading material!!

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  6. I haven't read any Altman spin-offs yet, but the Darcy's and Bingleys has been on my list. I'll have to add this one.

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  7. Holly,

    I'd read them in order because she does build on the first book and the characters went in some very interesting directions, but I highly recommend them. I think both of Altman's books are loads of fun.

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  8. Both of them sound so good! I just finished Austenland. It was sooo good and a nice light book to boot to some extent! Still working on my review.

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  9. Krista,

    You'd love them both, I'm sure. Austenland is great! I think sometimes it gets unfairly tossed into the "Austen spin-off" category, though. It's not really a continuation of the story, after all.

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  10. It sounds like a fun series, but I don't know if it's for me. The only Austen spin-off I've read is the Zombie one, which was more out of curiousity than anything.

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  11. This sounds like a great book! I enjoyed your review of it immensely.

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  12. I'm biased against character rip offs, ah, further adventures (with no actual bad experience, mind you) so I probably wouldn't pick it up but it does sound fun.

    It also sounds as if you should be writing. It's clearly meant. Transcend your surroundings. Did you get any sleep?

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  13. Carolsnotebook,

    I couldn't bear the idea of reading that zombie spin-off, simply because the cover is so ugly I'm afraid it'll give me nightmares, but I'm hoping to get a copy of the vampire spin-off that's coming out sometime soon. You know, if they don't interest you, no biggie. There are plenty of other books to read. I really enjoy this series, but I will never read a broad range of them.

    Sandie,

    Both of Marsha Altman's P & P spin-offs are loads of fun. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my review!

    Carrie,

    Believe it or not, I am, too. There are maybe two more I'm interested in (yes, the vampire Darcy -- I know, I've lost it, LOL). . . and anything else this author writes. That's about it.

    I'm actually planning ahead for NaNoWriMo in November -- clearing the schedule so I can try to whip out a novel.

    I got some sleep, yes. I'm still not good at sleeping, but as long as the kiddo isn't banging around and the sky isn't making crashing noises I'm getting to sleep pretty easily, for me. Wahoo for that. :)

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  14. Sounds like I'm going to have to read these books. They sound like fun. Love the quote you posted from the book.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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