What can I say? I hate books and movies that seek to ride in on the tailcoats of fame of authors who no longer have copyrights. Besides being cheap writing, it usually makes for bad writing, the plot suffering from the confines of what has already been written, already imagined, by another brain, and inspiration, you know, usually comes easiest to the original author of the storyline and characters.
I probably wouldn’t be writing this, though if the book hadn’t achieved enough notoriety to be made into a movie, and it wouldn’t have achieved that without the word “Pemberley” in the title.
Do not look for a perfect re-drawing of Austen’s larger-than-life characters. They, in fact, bear very little resemblance to them. Mrs. Bennett, Lydia, and Lady Catherine are so over-drawn and afflicted with bad acting that you’ll just have to ignore them. Darcy and Elizabeth are very little like their characters, either in looks or personality.
So why am I writing this if I only intend to be ugly?
I have a suggestion: Pretend it bears no relation to Pride and Prejudice. Before I did that, I almost couldn’t get through it. Once I did it, I actually enjoyed it. Imagine it’s a story about a young, wealthy, Regency couple, already married, happily, in a moment that crowds in on them filled with chaos.
The Darcy and Elizabeth aren’t bad, if you’re not trying to make them Darcy and Elizabeth (Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin). In fact, they are good actors, portraying delicate emotions in their expressions without speaking, which is what we have come to expect from good British drama. Georgiana and Wickham (Eleanor Tomlinson and Matthew Goode) are great, too (and actually come closest to portraying their characters accurately). The mystery itself is not terrible, with enough twists and drama to keep you halfway interested.
But the real value in this series is the portrayal of everyday Regency life, both for the wealthy and the not, when we flash away from the courtroom scenes. Too often, we see the Regency damsel’s courtship, and then she rides off into the sunset with her duke. We don’t see the ups and downs of actually becoming a married lady of rank, the responsibilities of being a patroness to many. We also don’t usually see the poverty in which many lived.
My sister commented while we were watching this, “Okay, how good would this have been if she had made up her own characters?!” It would’ve removed all negative comments from this review, and I would have loved it. But again, I never would’ve seen it at all probably, which could lead to some very scathing comments about the publishing and film industries, which I’m sure you’ll hear at a later date!
Currently available for purchase from Amazon.