Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds
Copyright 2010 - Originally publ'd as Pemberley by the Sea in 2008
Sourcebooks Casablanca - Romance
426 pages

"Now, before we conclude today, I'd like to take a few minutes to review common errors in experiment design and write-ups. Not only do these occur in our lab," she clicked to display the cover of a lab notebook on the overhead screen "but also in some of our finer scientific journals." She replaced it with an image of the tabloid's front page.

The class was accustomed to her tongue-in-cheek humor, so it took a moment before any of them looked closely enough to recognize her picture. She spoke over the first gasps and whispered comments. "The scientific method requires following a particular series of steps. First, you make an observation, and then you formulate the hypothesis, a possible explanation for your observation."

She clicked to show the headline of the article, "Calder Westing in Love Nest with Sexy Scientist." "Your observation must be a neutral one that avoids bias. A good scientist will, of course, define any terms that might cause confusion." She used her laser pointer to circle the words "love nest" and "sexy". "And, then there is the most fundamental error, which is to mistake the hypothesis for an explanation of a phenomenon, without performing experimental tests."

She had to raise her voice to be heard over the laughter. She flashed up the first paragraph of the story. "It simply will not do to formulate your hypothesis without a thorough review of the literature. In this case, the researcher states that the two subjects under observation have just met, whereas a quick check of a book written by Calder Westing makes mention of their acquaintance well before this date." The acknowledgments page from Pride & Presumption appeared on the screen.

--excerpt from Advanced Reader Copy of The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice (changes may have been made to the final edition).

My brother-in-law has asked me why I torment myself by reading offshoots, spin-offs, and adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and I think I can answer him, now. Because you never know when some fabulous writer like Abigail Reynolds is going to come along and turn the story on its head, alter it enough to make it her own original and you'll end up closing a book thinking, "Wow. That was really satisfying."

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice is that kind of book. Cassie Boulton is the modern version of Elizabeth Bennet and Calder Westing III is her Mr. Darcy. But, apart from his reticence and her brisk offense at his perceived arrogance, plus the eventual happily-ever-after, the two stories are really quite different. Cassie is a marine biologist with a particular affection for salt marshes. She's intelligent, driven and not overly interested in bothering with relationships. Her past was rough and must remain hidden. The most important thing in her life is tenure at the university where she teaches, but her biggest love is her summer job researching life in the salt marshes of Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Calder Westing III is quiet and aloof. He doesn't seem to have much personality at all and, even worse, he comes from a famous political family. If there's one thing Cassie doesn't need it's a famous Republican family breathing down her liberal neck.

But, as Cassie gets to know Calder, she finds that she's strongly, almost unbearably attracted to him. "Pheremones", she tells herself. It's just an animal attraction and she, as a scientist, certainly knows better than to let hormones get the best of her. But, then they spend a passionate evening by the sea. Actually in the sea, but that's neither here nor there. After Cassie brushes Calder off, he writes a story about their short time together and eventually she realizes there's more to Calder than meets the eye.

What I loved about this book is that the author did not bind herself to the Jane Austen story. She used pieces of plot and characteristics, but in Cassie and Calder she created two distinctive characters. It's not simply an updated P & P. The characters are smart and interesting and the storyline is unique enough to not reek of "knock-off". It's a tremendously satisfying book. The only thing I might complain about is the length, but let's face it . . . I'm not a chunkster-loving type of gal. I'd chop at least 50 pages out of anything that reaches 400+. When I closed the book, I recall thinking that there really wasn't much tightening that could have been done.

Since the book is classified as romance there are some graphic sex scenes. Otherwise . . . no complaints. I loved this book and will look for more by the author. I'm not the typical romance fan, but I like the occasional reliable happily-ever-after.

4.5/5 - Only the barest skeleton of Pride & Prejudice is used as the basis of this remarkably original modern romance. Smart characters, lovely setting, excellent dialogue and rocking fine writing make this juicy romance a winner.

Whew! 5 reviews in . . . uh, 3 or 4 hours. My butt is numb. I think I'll get up and do some laundry, now. One can only stand so much time on the hindquarters.


  1. I'm not much of a romance reader but this one sounds good!

    Life by Candlelight

  2. Amy,

    I'm not much of a romance reader, either, but I toss in the occasional romance and this one was one of the best I've read. It's not sappy or cloying, the female is one smart cookie and the relationship takes time. I think it's wonderful.

  3. and Woods Hole is one of my favorite places! :)

  4. Care,

    ENVY! Never been there.

  5. I know what you mean about only being able to stand sitting down for so long. I recently changed jobs at work partly because of that. I was doing check in at the physical therapy and now I am back doing records release in medical records department. I was busy but sitting most of the day for 9 months and it was getting to me if though I loved my job. I still miss my patients after two weeks. My current job is nowhere near as fufilling. Trade offs all over the place. lol :)

  6. Brittanie,

    I'm sorry you had to shift your job, again, but it does sound like a good reason. I miss interaction with humans. Not sure what I'm going to do when the youngest goes off to college in the fall, but I'm more than likely going to try to do something that gets me out of the house and around actual people! Hopefully, someday you'll find a happy medium at your workplace. :)

  7. I read this one awhile back when it was marketed as Pemberley by the Sea. I thought it was unique and entertaining as well, though I could have done without the sex scenes. I can't help myself with these Austen reimaginings and sequels. They're a guilty pleasure.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  8. Anna,

    That's a good way to put it: "guilty pleasure". I like reading a little something Jane Austenish, now and then, even if it's not the real Jane. The Man Who Loved P & P is definitely a guilty pleasure, although I agree with you. I can always do without the sex scenes.

  9. I really enjoyed this book when it was Pemberley by the Sea! I'm glad to see its being reissued and getting some love. Reynolds is quite a talent!

  10. Serena,

    Definitely. I haven't yet looked to see what else she's written, but The Man Who Loved P & P is so good that I need to look up the author. I'm eager to read more of her work.

  11. Well, my sug is that you should plan a trip to Cape Cod/Woods Hole and, tho I'm not an expert on the place, I can most definitely be a fun tour guide!


  12. Care,

    Hmm, if you were the tour guide I'm sure anything would be interesting. Tiddlypom!!! Thank you for that! Snickerdoodle doesn't even sound close. LOL

  13. I think this sounds like a fun read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  14. It's very fun, Stephanie. I think you'd like it. :)

  15. I was all for reading it until the words "graphic sex scenes". Bummer. Those never improve a story.

    This one sounds fun.

  16. Holly,

    I couldn't agree with you more. I prefer romantic tension, myself. The good news is that those scenes are skimmable -- you won't miss any critical dialogue -- and they taper off as the couple gets over their initial animal attraction and love takes over. It's really a very good story.


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