Tuesday, July 1, 2008

North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris

Well, I think this was probably the best book of the three Bebris mysteries so far. I had posted that I didn't like the second very well so I wasn't sure how this one would go. There are a number of things that Bebris did which vastly improved this story.
First, Bebris backed way off the supernatural aspect of the stories. While I didn't mind the idea in concept, placing Elizabeth Bennet Darcy in a supernatural setting was just unexpected. In this story she hinted at the possiblity of unnatural occurences; everything could have also been explained logically. I liked that idea much better. It allowed for a reasonable suspension of disbelief instead of a complete departure from reality.
Second, Bebris did not give away the entire plot in the prologue. She allowed the plot to evolve naturally. There were hints throughout the story that foreshadowed the villains. But that is true of most any good mystery. As a reader you want a chance to figure out whodunit along with the characters. I was able to do that more naturally in this novel.
I also enjoyed the plot of this book. It took place at Pemberly (Darcy's home), incorporated a number of characters from the original Pride and Prejudice (and Northanger Abbey not suprisingly), and developed a logical narrative in which Elizabeth is expecting her first daughter. Concerns about child-bearing and heirs seemed like a reasonable topic for an Austenian. I was a bit uncertain about Bebris' knowledge of childbirth and childcare in the early 19th centry. I wonder if a wet nurse would have been assumed for someone in the Darcy's postion. And, I wondered at Elizabeth's presence in society as late in her pregnancy as she was. But, it's possible I'm imposing Victorian ideals on an earlier era. I honestly don't know enogh about child-rearing in England in that era to discredit Bebris' perceptions.
A final note, I just discovered that before writing the Darcy mysteries Bebris had only written sci-fi/fantasy books. I am unsurprised given the tendency towards the supernatural that occured. There is one further Darcy mystery that Bebris has written. At this point I don't feel a need to run out and pick the book up. If I happen upon it for a bit of nothing I would read it. But, I'm ready to switch to a different topic for a bit.

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