Jane Austen is everywhere these days. From Bride & Prejudice to Becoming Jane from The Jane Austen Book Club (movie and book) to Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen's mystery series (Jane solves the mysteries in this series) fans of the regency-era author can get their share of Austen. Carrie Bebris is no slouch in the field either.
Bebris is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and has done her research. Her first novel, Pride and Prescience starts almost the moment that Pride and Prejudice ends. Jane and Eliza Bennet are marrying Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy as the book opens; Caroline Bingley is simultaneously announcing her own engagement to Frederick Parrish a wealthy American. Unlike many typical mysteries no one dies immediately. In fact, the death is only a very small moment in the overall storyline. Instead, the story is really a convincing sequel to Austen's book with the continuing adventures of Bennet and Darcy.
Bebris does a great job of keeping the characters true to the era. The costumes, the speech patterns, the social mores all blend in well with the early nineteenth century. The storyline does not delve into topics that would have been unfamiliar or uncomfortable at the time. The relationship between Lizzie, her sister, her husband, and her extended family continues logically from where Austen left off. In all, Bebris has proven her mettle as a true Austenian who knows the author, the era, and the norms.
As a diehard fan of all the Austen novels, I really enjoyed reading Bebris' first foray into the world of Jane Austen. It was like picking up a familiar book and rereading it but finding a twist in the end. However, the twist in the end might throw a few readers for a loop. This book definitely builds on the stereotypical gothic novels written in the 1800s. There is a hint of the spiritual. Not everything can be defined by science. Instead of solving the mystery using scientific method, Elizabeth Bennet solves it using her intitution and cunning. But, her intittion suggests something of the supernatural. If you don't like any hint of fantasy in your reading, this might annoy you (I know it did my mom who gave me this series). But if you're willing to spare a moment of suspension of disbelief (and really, should anyone be surprised by the foray into fantasy when discovering that the great Fantasy publishing company Tor released these books) this series is great.
I picked up Suspense and Sensibility as soon as I put down Pride and Prescience. One more quick warning. As familiar as I am with Pride and Prejudice, I have already found that I need to go back and read a synopsis of the original Jane Austen work in order to place the characters and better understand the interactions between everyone. Off to look up Sense and Sensibility.