Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another book

Okay, I had another experience with a book I hadn't had in a long time. This one made me cry.

Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris is the second in her series that casts Mr. & Mrs. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as unsuspecting and reluctant sleuths. This time they interact with the characters from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. It isn't necessary to have read the Jane Austen books to enjoy this one, or even the first in the series.

I read the first of Bebris's Darcy mystery books and reviewed it earlier in my blog. I liked this one even more.

The plot starts out with Mr. & Mrs. (Elizabeth) Darcy sponsoring Elizabeth's sister's (Kitty) first season in London. She quickly catches the attention of a young dashing heir, Harry Dashwood (introduced as a spoiled child in Sense and Sensibility), who intially worries more about the tying of his cravat than the tenants on his estate. However, the idea of settling down with a wife seems to cause him to think more seriously about the responsibilities that come with his inheritance, and he wins Mr. Darcy's support by asking his advice. Harry and Kitty become engaged, and everyone seems to approve the match except Harry's mother and an aunt who hoped her daughter would catch Harry's eye.

Soon after the engagement, however, Harry begins to act oddly, and as his behavior escalates into rudeness and debauchery it threatens everything he formerly held dear, including his fortune and his engagement. This is the mystery that Darcy and Elizabeth end up solving.

One would expect members of the ton in their situation to try to use their influence to persuade Harry to behave, and if that didn't work, to eventually encourage Kitty to break the engagement and discontinue association with the cad. However, the author does a good job of believably keeping the Darcys involved in Harry's life by other associations.

I guessed at the solution to the main puzzle of the book long before the characters did, but I think the author intended that, meaning to give it away in the prologue. Anyone who has read the first Darcy mystery knows that the author employs a bit of mysticism in her plots, and that knowledge paired with the prologue makes the solution to the mystery obvious. However, I don't think it diminished my enjoyment of the book at all--I still didn't know how they were going to figure it out, and I knew from the first book that Mr. Darcy would be skeptical of anything he couldn't explain with science.

There were a few other twists in the book that I predicted, but the two things at the end that moved me to tears were surprises to me. I really liked that the book didn't tie up completely like I expected.

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