Ever since Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice, the literary world has been hungering for Lizzy and Mr Darcy's story to continue. Writers have given the Darcys children, set them to solve mysteries, and – notably – allowed them to fight zombies together! In the past few years I have been on a quest to read as many of these continuations as possible. I am still in love with the world Austen so cleverly created, and I hunger for more of Lizzy's witticisms.
I was therefore very pleased when I found out my library had the first three books in Marsha Altman's series. In order to prevent too many spoilers, I am going to focus on the first of these books, The Darcys & the Bingleys.
Altman's series would definitely have Austen spinning in her grave! The blurb of the first book warned me of this; it clearly states that the book begins with a Certain Problem that Mr Bingley has prior to marrying his beloved Jane. Namely, that he does not know how to satisfy her. Bingley's loyal friend, Mr Darcy, leaps to the rescue and procures a copy of the Kama Sutra for him to peruse.
I hadn't read the blurb prior to borrowing out the books, so I hesitated a little after reading it. Honestly, the blurb made the books sound like smutty fan fic – and if I wanted to read that, I might as well just turn to the Internet to get my fix! Nevertheless, I decided I would continue. I'd read Colleen McCullough's awful The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet a couple of years before, so I figured it couldn't be as bad as that.
I started the first book expecting to read bad porn starring Austen's most beloved creations. Instead, I found myself reading an entertaining and occasionally laugh-out-loud adventure, filled with duels, poorly chosen suitors, and intrigue. I fell in love all over again with Lizzy, Darcy, Jane, and Bingley – and in love with some of Altman's new characters, particularly Dr Maddox.
Altman's work is occasionally historically inaccurate, and filled with Americanisms, but I found myself not caring one bit. I read the first three books within two days, and am still hankering for some more. Altman's series might not be for Austen purists, but, if you find yourself with a lazy Saturday afternoon, I highly suggest you crack open The Darcys & the Bingleys. You will not be disappointed.