â€œPemberley Rememberedâ€ is actually three separate love stories and a small mystery, all braided together. The mystery and the love stories are centered around a lovely 18th century Derbyshire mansion; is Montclair the model for Pemberley, and were itâ€™s original owners, one William Lacey and his wife, Elizabeth Garrison Lacy the models for Jane Austinâ€™s characters in â€œPride and Prejudiceâ€? Maggie Joyce, employed by the American military exchange service in post-WWII England comes to believe so, as her friendship with Beth and Jack Crowell develops. Beth and Jack have a long connection to Montclair and the Lacey family; as their friendship with Maggie deepens, she learns also of their courtship and marriage before and during World War One. The Crowells are a sympathetic presence in Maggieâ€™s own bumpy romance, with Rob McAllister, an 8th Air Force veteran haunted by memories of his own combat tour over Germany.
The setting and situation, of immediately-post-war England is not very often done in recent novels; it is well done and detailed here. The war had been over and won â€“ but rationing and deprivation lingered on, made clear in many small details. The bleak present setting and the temptations of taking refuge in an elegiac look backwards to happier times, to plenty, grace and romance is also sympathetically outlined. The parallels in the Lacy romance to the Darcy-Bennet constellation of characters are also carefully thought-out and explained, although perhaps it might have been a little more convincing if they were not quite so exact â€“ or if there were not such a lavish assembly. To my mind, the other two romances also could have been strengthened and polished by some pruning of extraneous characters â€“ rather like an 18th century topiary, to better show off the main narrative. The back-stories of various secondary characters was not absolutely necessary and rather slowed down the narration. The recorded 18th century letters and diary, which form the clues to the mystery, are quite well-done, and those various war experiences filtered through Jack Crowell and Rob McAllister are heartbreakingly authentic. Talky and lovingly detailed as it is â€“ this is a must-read for the serious Austin-fan.
“Pemberley Remembered” is available from Amazon.com.
Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book â€œTo Truckeeâ€™s Trailâ€ is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com . She reviewed â€œBecoming Janeâ€ earlier on Blogger News Network.