Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, May 26, 2006

Linda Berdoll:Nortorious or just a little naughty?

Linda Berdoll doesn't look like the scandalous type but to many Jane Austen fans,she might as well be parading about in a scarlet red dress,causing folks to spread whispered remarks thru out the room. She is the author of Mr.Darcy Takes a
Wife(formerly known as The Bar Sinister)and Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley,books that dare to suggest a rather steamy love life for everyone's all time favorite couple from Pride and Prejudice. Having read a few Jane Austen inspired novels and sequels of varying tones before,I was curious to check out these tomes that cause so much tongue clucking.

The first book was originally self-published and gained it's share of fans and naysayers. I can honestly say that while I wouldn't nominate Ms. Berdoll for that New York Times list of greatest American fiction(which is a dubious honor in some respects),she's not the wicked temptress out to sully Our Dear Jane's good name either. In fact,her books are lively,entertaining romps that,for the more open minded Austen fan,can be a welcome addition to their bedside reading table.

One thing I noticed right away about Berdoll's books was the realistic take she goes with not only the major characters but the supporting cast as well. She doesn't shy away from describing some of the hard circumstances and poverty many of her newer characters come from and bringing those in the servant class out into the spotlight. Berdoll has said that she was inspired by the BBC Pride & Prejudice miniseries written by Andrew Davies who also slips in touches of class struggles in his adaptations. It's a strong hallmark of her work that makes her stand out from the crowd.

Also,there's many fun bits of humor-one of my favorite scenes has Lydia gleefully telling her about-to-be-married sisters the pleasures of the wedding night. Some of the words she uses may be shocking(or not)but it's really not that hard to image Lydia Bennett doing this while Lizzie rolls her eyes at her boasts. Mr. Collins pops up as well for some comic relief as do Mrs. Bennett but they don't distract for long. The main focus here is the developing relation between Elizabeth and Darcy who struggle to know each other better,keep their household in order and enjoy all the aspects of the love they share,not unlike many married couples in real life.

As to the sex,it's not some sleazy fanfiction at all-if either of these books became a movie,the rating would be an R or a PG-13,depending on your standards. If the very idea of joining the Darcys in their bedchamber is startling,then this is not your cup of tea. However,if you don't mind some passionate prose,then by all means do indulge yourself by plunging into these pages. Don't just skip ahead to find the "naughty" parts-you'll miss out on some good storytelling that way.

The new book,Darcy & Elizabeth,has dealing with the birth of twins and the interference of Lady Catherine(who must have her share of the conversation!). It does start off at a slower pace than MDTAW but is definately worth taking the time for. It is best to have read Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife first so my advice to have them both on hand for some excellant holiday reading. Nevermind watching those Desparate Housewives reruns-give yourself a real treat with these back-to-back riveting reimagings of Jane Austen's best loved romantic couple(just click the title link above for more details). It also gives you a good excuse to reread Pride and Prejudice yet again,which it makes it all worth while.

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