Genre: Historical fiction, romance
Published: 1 December 2009, 496 pgs.
Simonsen's Searching for Pemberley is not your typical Austen sequel. Set in England after World War II, Maggie is an American working in London when a sight-seeing trip to Derbyshire leads to a friendship with a couple who believe that Jane Austen based her novel, Pride and Prejudice, on real people. The story is multi-generational, includes a few different love stories, including Maggie's, and is a history lesson on both World Wars. I've read a few reviews that have called it a "leisurely" read and I think that is a perfect word for it. The story behind the people who were allegedly the inspiration for the Darcys, Bingley, and Bennets is slowly laid out as the main story about Maggie and the couple, named Jack and Beth Crowell, and their family, unfolds.
I quite enjoyed this book. I have to admit that it was pretty slow going at first and it was probably about page 100 before I started to really like it. Sometimes there seemed to be too many characters to keep track of and I'd come across someone's name and think, who is that? I enjoyed the journal entries written by Elizabeth Garrison and the letters written by William Lacey who were supposedly the real Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. However, that part of novel was not extensive and the story mainly dealt with Maggie, her love interests and the Crowells. I thought their story was interesting and I really liked the information about the wars and conditions in England during and after the war. I learned quite a bit from that and I appreciated the obvious research that Simonsen had put into writing the book.
Overall this was a pretty good story with interesting characters. I didn't really like the direction it went with the morality/religion/pre-marital sex issues that were brought up so I wouldn't recommend this book for teenagers. It definitely has adult themes.
Rating: 3.1.3 This book contains many sexual situations but not explicit and graphic. Also contains plenty of barnyard language (I didn't think it was excessive, though).