Kim’s Guest Review of Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner by Jack Caldwell

mdctdjcMy latest review for Austenprose is Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner by Jack Caldwell. The name Jack Caldwell may ring a bell for some of you. He is the author of Pemberley Ranch, a book that Todd and I both reviewed (see Todd’s/Mine.) Caldwell is one of the few male authors that exist in the Jane Austen fan fiction sphere. As such, he captures my attention with each novel he writes as he is able to offer male insight into Darcy’s mind (and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to know what that man was thinking?!)

Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner is a comedic retelling of Pride and Prejudice that lands Darcy in the living room of the Bennet household as he recovers from a broken leg. How did he got that broken leg? You’d have to ask Elizabeth’s adorable cat Cassandra! What ensues in the Bennet household as Darcy recovers is truly hilarious. I highly recommend this read!

For a direct link to my review click here.

Todd’s Review of Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell

Cover Image

When Kim first asked me to read Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell, it was at the bequest of a commenter who asked what my take on the novel would be, considering it is one of the few pieces of Jane Austen fan fiction (that we know of) written by a man.  To be honest I didn’t really expect it to be all that different from the other fan fiction novels that Kim reviews.  I can honestly say that I was definitely wrong.

Pemberley Ranch, or Pranch as I called it informally when I was reading it around our apartment (haha), was a gangbuster of a novel, full of action and adventure that never ceased towards the end.  Set in the years immediately after the Civil War, Caldwell tells the story of Will Darcy, an ex-Confederate soldier who is a large landowner in the town of Rosings, Texas.  He moves back there following the war with his good friend and fellow soldier Dr. Charles Bingley.  Beth Bennet, a strong Union supporter, moves to Rosings with her immediate family after her brother Sam dies in the war.  The Bennet’s move to a small ranch near the much larger B&R ranch, owned by Darcy’s cousin Cate Burroughs.  Darcy’s ranch, known as Pemberley ranch, is located across a river that divides the two large ranches.  At first Beth is uneasy about moving to a state that supported the Confederacy during the war, but soon develops a close friendship with many in the town, including Ms. Charlotte Lucas, daughter of the town sheriff.  Her sister Jane is soon smitten with Dr. Bingley, and they soon marry, bringing Darcy into the company of Beth.  She of course is initially irritated by him due to his haughtiness, but additionally because of his status as a Confederate soldier.  Beth holds a longstanding animosity towards all things Confederate, as her relationship with her brother was especially strong and she holds the war accountable even though he actually died of pneumonia.  This continues to be a strong factor in her negative views towards Darcy, and keeps her from seeing his good intentions.

Aside from the relationship tension between Darcy and Beth, there are evil forces at work in Rosings.  Mr. George Whitehead, a carpetbagger from the north, comes to Rosings and becomes the recorder of deeds for Long Branch County.  Additionally, he becomes an influential partner in the B&R ranch, holding a great deal of sway over Cate Burroughs and her land.  Initially plesant towards the townsfolk, Whitehead’s true intentions eventually emerge and the town is thrown into the middle of a war between Whitehead and his quest to take over all of Long Brach County and Darcy and Beth, who stand to stop him.  How many lives will this war claim?  Will Whitehead be stopped?

I must say that the most striking differences between this novel and the others written by women are the degrees of violence and language.  When I first read some of the dialogue I actually laughed out loud, as all manners of cursing is used in the book.  Must be the wild west, I guess.  I would imagine that Jane might be slightly offended though, haha.  Anyway, I definitely liked the final battle scene.  It played out like a modern movie, full of gun battles and heroic actions.  I was on the edge of my seat for the final 30 pages.  Caldwell does an excellent job ratcheting up the excitement in not only this scene but the entire book. 

There is a slight courseness to the book, and that made it much more enjoyable for me.  The flowerly language and wordplay of Ms. Austen is gone, and it is replaced with a more direct action and manner of speaking that I found refreshing.  All in all, I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to give Pemberley Ranch a try.  It is refreshing, exciting, and hysterical in some parts.  It is an exciting twist on the Pride and Prejudice story, and one I won’t soon forget!

5 out of 5 Stars

Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell
Sourcebooks (2010)
Paperback, 384 pages
ISBN: 9781402241284

You can find Kim’s review of Pemberley Ranch here

The Weekly Roundup – Week 4

So it’s been busy lately, hence the delay in posting my weekly roundup!!

Last week started the planning meetings for Relay for Life.  We had our committee meeting on Monday with our new ACS representative.  It was the first meeting getting the entire committee old and new members together.  We discussed lots of publicity and networking ideas and I feel confident in the direction we’re moving!

Tuesday and Wednesday I accomplished lots of reading.  Todd was at a conference until late night Wednesday night so I had the apartment to myself.  I read three books last week (1 short of my goal) and have already posted up the reviews.  (I finished Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister, A Wolf At the Table, and Pemberley Ranch)

Thursday I started writing a rough draft of the review that was published on Sunday for Austenprose. (Follow here for review)

Friday my co-worker Erin and I dropped off all the food our office collected at a local event called Stuff-A-Bus.  A local radio station collects for local shelters for the holidays and tries to fill buses.  The event has grown to be so large that they now fill tractor trailers and refrigerated trucks! Afterwards I went out for drinks and appetizers with Adam and Todd.  It had been a long week at work and we needed to start the weekend right!  After drinks we headed to where else but Barnes and Noble.  I picked up Sense and Sensibility the graphic novel, Walking Dead volume 1, and Shanghai Girls. (A co-worker of mine also gave me three books to borrow, so once I read those I’ll throw reviews up as well)

Janette came over the following morning after her hair appointment and we proceeded to run errands all day.  We dropped Todd’s car off for new tires and then ran to Target to pick up some odds and ends that we needed.  I got some Christmas shopping done which made me very happy.  Todd and I spent most of the afternoon at Sprint getting new phones and setting up our family plan.  It was exciting. Not.

Sunday was a lazy day.  Woke up late, cleaned up the house a bit, caught up on stuff on the DVR, all that kind of junk.  We went to our friend Jess’s for dinner and had a freaking blast just hanging out and laughing about old stories from our childhoods.  (Jess thanks for dinner again – it was delicious!)

Monday and today I just went to work came home blogged and read.  I’m completing the graphic novel version of Sense and Sensibility tonight and hopefully will finish Walking Dead tomorrow.  Thanksgiving is on Thursday so I’m nervous that this week is the week that will do in my 100 book challenge.  I’m behind 1 book from last week already and am hoping to make up for it this week.

With that I’ll sign off and go back to reading!! 77 down, 23 to go.

Happy Reading, and may I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

#77 A Review of Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell

Cover ImagePemberley Ranch, a contemporary westernized version of Pride and Prejudice, is Jack Caldwell’s debut novel. I saw this in Barnes and Noble with the comment “It’s Pride and Prejudice meets Gone with the Wind — with that kind of romance and excitement” and was instantly struck that I had to try the novel out.  Glad I did!
The Civil War has finally ended.  Will Darcy is headed back to Rosings, Texas to his beloved Pemberley Ranch with his friend Dr. Charles Bingley.  Up north in Ohio, Beth Bennet is finding out that her father is selling their family farm to her uncles and moving the family to Rosings.  Shortly after their arrival Beth meets the haughty Will Darcy, Jane falls in love/marries Dr. Bingley, and the carpetbagger George Whitehead comes to town.  Whitehead becomes a good friend of the Bennet family much to Darcy and Bingley’s chagrin.  Whitehead has a past with the two men, having been their jailer in the prison camp that Darcy and Bingley wound up being wrongfully thrown into near the end of the Civil War.  Darcy begins discovering that Whitehead is double-crossing his cousin Cate Burroughs, the owner of the B&R Ranch.  Darcy also discovers that Beth is unlike any woman he has ever met and sees himself falling in love with her.  It’s up to him to convince her that he isn’t the haughty arrogant man she believes him to be and that Whitehead isn’t looking out for her family’s best interests either.  Pemberley Ranch is filled with murder, mayhem, gunfights, love, deceit, and all the things you’d expect from a Pride and Prejudice sequel with western influences. 

 So let me preface this by saying it was SO interesting to finally read a sequel written by a man.  (NOTHING against women when I say that) I’m so used to reading a P&P sequel written by a woman where Darcy has a huge character transformation and Elizabeth has a transformation, but not on an epic scale like Darcy.  Reading Pemberley Ranch it is Beth who has the huge character transformation. It was an interesting change to read and I think because as women we romanticize the transformation of Darcy into something bigger than is actually written.  (Maybe because the period of time in which he transforms is not written explicitly?)

Anyway, back to Pemberley Ranch! It was also refreshing to not read an overly mushy or sexual romance between Beth and Will.  The conflicts are what take center stage here; especially those between Cate Burroughs, Will Darcy, George Whitehead, and Denny’s gang.  The romance that is written however does seem more realistic and natural than other sequels I read.  Nothing is overly romanticized, it all seems natural.

Caldwell did some really interesting things with the characters that I enjoyed: Bingley was a doctor, Mr. Lucas was the town sheriff, Colonel Fitzwilliam was the head man on Darcy’s ranch, Denny was a gunslinger, and Mrs. Younge became a saloon owner.  I also was pleased to see other Austen characters make their way into the novel, with the biggest supporting part going to Reverend Henry Tilney of Northanger Abbey.

All in all the book was a lot of fun to read and as I said previously a refreshingly different point of view.  For those women who are trying to get the men in their lives to read a Pride and Prejudice sequel, I would definitely suggest trying this one.  It’s written with enough action to keep their attention. 

4 out of 5 Stars