#70 A Review of North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris

Cover Image North by Northanger is the third novel in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series, written by Carrie Bebris. Currently there are five novels in the series the most recent being The Intrigue at Highbury  which was recently published earlier this year. The Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series takes the characters from Jane Austen’s novels and puts them smack dab in the middle of whodunit’s.  Elizabeth and Darcy are the main sleuths, with each book introducing the characters from another Austen novel into their storyline.  The first novel Pride and Prescience was about just the characters from Pride and Prejudice.  The second novel, Suspense and Sensibility includes the characters from Sense and Sensibility along with the Darcy’s.  North by Northanger introduces Henry Tilney from Northanger Abby into the mix. The Matters at Mansfield, the fourth in the series introduces the characters from Mansfield Park.  The Intrigue at Highbury brings Emma and Mr. Knightley into the Darcy’s lives.  According to Bebris’s author profile on goodreads.com, she is currently working on a book that is influenced by Persuasion.  I’m assuming that this book would be the sixth in the series, as Persuasion is the only Austen book not yet represented in her collection.
Picking up where the last book left off, Elizabeth and Darcy have returned to Pemberley where Elizabeth is beginning to settle into her duties as mistress of Pemberley.  She begins moving some furniture and after moving Lady Anne’s (Darcy’s mother) writing desk she finds a letter that has fallen out.  The letter is addressed to Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Elizabeth is startled to see her name on a letter written by Lady Anne, considering she’s been dead over 16 years. Darcy and Elizabeth read the letter, written the day Lady Anne died, and find that it implores Fitzwilliam’s future wife to find an object that held great importance to her.  Having no idea where to start looking the two push aside the letter and focus more on finding a suitable person to help with the delivery of their first child. They travel to Bath to meet with a doctor that Darcy has deemed appropriate to birth his first-born child.  While in Bath a Captain Frederick Tilney sends a letter with an invitation for the Darcys to come to his home, Northanger Abby.  He states that their mothers were friends and that he would like to renew the acquaintance between the families.  Upon their arrival at Northanger Abby they are quickly ushered into the home by a woman with no manners, the Darcy’s servants go missing, and they are left to eat without their host. (While dressing for dinner, the Darcy’s happen upon a beautiful set of diamonds left in the dresser in their room)  Upon finishing dinner they are quickly brought to a room that has a bandaged Captain Frederick Tilney in it.  Frederick tells them that he had an accident while training his men and then begins to candidly ask questions about Lady Anne and a memento of some kind.  Elizabeth and Darcy feel uneasy with the questioning, and excuse themselves to their rooms. Returning to their rooms they find that their servants are still missing and that their room is a mess.  They pack their belongings and leave for Pemberley the next morning.  Due to the inclement weather and bad roads they find they most stop at an inn for two days.  While at the inn a constable comes to their rooms to ask them if they had been to Northanger Abby the previous night and begins questioning them about their time there.  They come to find out that the diamonds they found in their bedchamber have gone missing and an anonymous letter states that the Darcys are responsible.  After a search of their belongings Darcy’s walking stick is found to have a secret compartment (which Darcy knows nothing about) with the diamonds in it.  Darcy is thrown in jail with the promise that they will return to Northanger Abby the following day to speak with Captain Tilney.  Upon their arrival they find that Captain Tilney is not there, but his brother Henry is.  Henry claims that his brother had died days earlier and that it could not have been his brother who met them the previous night.  The constable throws Darcy back in jail to await his trial until the spring.  Elizabeth finds that the only way she can get her husband out of jail is to get Lady Catherine involved.  Lady Catherine comes to the rescue securing their release to Pemberley as long as they stay under her care. Darcy, and Elizabeth, with the help of Henry Tilney must figure out who has framed them for the robbery and why, all under the condescending nose of Lady Catherine.  Lady Anne’s letter and her memento all come into play as piece by piece the mystery comes together.
This is my favorite novel in the series so far.  The first two novels dealt with plots that included supernatural and mystical elements.  North by Northanger went in a different direction entirely.  After reading the first two I was expecting the supernatural to play even a small part in the plot.  North by Northanger was the most realistic of the three I’ve read because it was believable.  It’s not that far-fetched that you find an old letter begging you to find a certain object, or that people disguise themselves as someone else for less than honorable reasons.  Bebris really found Elizabeth and Darcy’s voices, and wrote them in a way that I think Austen herself would be proud.    
I really enjoyed the storyline that dealt with Lady Anne.  Elizabeth grows into a more mature character while reading Lady Anne’s letters and journals about being pregnant.  She becomes more in-tune with her feelings as an expectant mother which creates a new side of Elizabeth for the reader and also a new kind of relationship with Darcy.  I was really surprised with the whodunit at the end!  As surprising as this sounds I enjoyed Lady Catherine! She was a big presence in this book and it was funny to read the bits between her and Elizabeth. I was disappointed at the non-presence of Catherine Morland.  Bebris makes one reference to her in the entire novel, which just seemed strange to me considering that her husband Henry Tilney was so involved.  I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting.  It’s an engaging and stimulating read that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end. (Best to not start this in bed.  I started the book at 10:30pm, planning on going to sleep at 11pm.  Closed the book a little before 2am, completely finished – HA)
4 out of 5 stars

The Weekly Roundup – Week 1

New month, new books, new posts! Last week was a busy week, but I got a TON accomplished.  During the course of last week I managed to finish 5 books! I’ve posted reviews for three of the five so far and am presently working on getting the other two reviews up between today and tomorrow.  I’m enjoying writing my reviews, as it makes me pay more attention to details.

Todd's Kobe Burger

 The week started off with its usual boringness.  Nothing too exciting was going on.  I decided that since Todd and I hit the date of two months of marital bliss that we should go out to dinner.  We headed to this awesome restaurant near where we live called Taste. I had some great tilapia, Todd had a Kobe beef burger, and we shared an excellent bottle of Pinot Noir.  It was nice to have a night off from everything and just enjoy a stress free dinner. We went home after dinner where I proceeded to crawl in bed and finish These Three Remain.  (Review is posted here) Fell asleep afterwards without starting anything new, finishing the book was progress enough for me. 

Janette and I (Dancing Fools)

Next few days went by fairly fast.  My best friend Janette came to stay over one night so she could make the train and skip the traffic she would have hit driving the nearly one-hour ride from her house to the train in New Haven. We hung out and watched Dancing with the Stars together and then hit the hay.  The days following consisted of working, cleaning, reading, and preparing for our third annual Halloween bash.  Thursday I finished The Old Man and the Sea (review posted here) and went to BJ’s to get everything we needed for the party.  On Friday I picked up last minute stuff from Party City, and then went to happy hour with Adam and some friends from work. EXCELLENT TIME.  We went to a bar near our job and just hung out, talking and laughing for almost three hours.  While I was at happy hour, Todd had a meet and greet at his own job.  Afterwards he headed off to the UConn football game with some co-workers.  After happy hour Adam and I headed over to Barnes and Noble where I could happily indulge in my book obsession.  Adam knows that going to the bookstore with me is a daunting task.  Surrounded by so many books I can never make up my mind.  I always make the person who is with me read the jacket of every single book I “think” I want.  (This can be a huge task, as I’ve sometimes walked around with like 11 books at once) Anyway, I finally picked out three books and bought them.  (That might have been the smallest amount of books ever purchased by me) I bought Something Borrowed (review is up here), North by Northanger (review is coming), and Mary Anne. It’s only Monday now and already two of those books are finished.  Yes, I’m nuts. 

Saturday morning I woke up early and started reading Something Borrowed.  I did not expect to spend my morning reading the book cover to cover! With a book completed and under my belt I set off on completing set up for Todd and my Halloween party.  I had brownies to bake, dips to make, pizza breads to start.  Todd grabbed Adam and the two set up streamers all over.  It rained orange streamers everywhere.  (Nice job guys)

Group Shot!

  Anyway – people started showing up around 8:30/9pm for our third annual bash.  Todd homebrewed two different kinds of beers for the party; a pumpkin ale (aka “It’s a great big pumpkin ale”) and a blonde ale (aka “one joke away from being a dumb blonde ale”).  Yes, I will take credit for those names.  (God I’m so creative – HA) Both beers were a big hit – each beer was made in a 5 gallon keg, totaling 10 gallons for the party.  Both kegs were almost completely killed!!  Todd was very proud of himself (as he should be) and even prouder to show off his new kegerator.  We had some GREAT costumes showing up.  Adam was a contestant from Legends of the Hidden Temple, my friend Tracey dressed as someone from the TLC show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”, we also had Speedy Gonzales, The Phantom of the Opera, Peter Griffin, Courtney Love, Captain Hook, and some great others! Tracey’s “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” costume won best costume of the night. People started leaving the party around 2:30am, at which time food went in the fridge and heads hit the pillow. 

Ozzie as Speedy Gonzales

Snookie (aka Lisa) and Legends of the Hidden Temple Adam

Tracey's Prize Winning Costume

Sunday consisted of me, Todd, and my good friend Ozzie (Oz trekked from NJ for the party. love him) heading out to the deli for some lunch.  (We needed to sop up all the beer in our bellies)  We grabbed some lunch and then plopped on the couch to watch some Sunday football.  (I’m very upset that the Jet’s lost. Horrible game) Anyway – Todd dropped Ozzie back at the train station around 6pm.  I finished up on my Something Borrowed blog review, and then it was off for reading.  I  finished Our Town relatively quickly. (review is coming)  I had read Act I and half of Act II on Friday night and finally finished it all last night.  My book club is discussing Our Town for our November read, which is why I was eager to finish it.  (If anyone is interested in joining my book club, please click here)  After completing Our Town it was only 10:45pm and I just couldn’t sleep yet.  I picked up North by Northanger and began reading it.  Around 1:10am I started getting tired and realized I had stayed up way later then I expected.  My eyes started getting droopy and I decided that I would finish the chapter I was reading and then hit they hay.  The last sentence of the chapter I was reading was so good that it woke me right back up.  By 2am I had finished the last 90pgs, woke Todd up, told him how much I enjoyed the book, and then snuggled in for some well deserved rest.  I woke up this morning slightly worse for the wear but so proud that I finished 3 books over the weekend.  I’m down to needing 30 books for the remainder of the year to complete 100 for 2010.  If I finished five this week I have high hopes for what I can accomplish for the next two months.

After work today I headed over the bookstore and got two more books. (As if there aren’t piles of books for me to already read at my house…literally there are piles) Oh well, it’s on to November.  My goal is 15 books for this month. I’d love to meet that and surpass it, but given that the holiday’s are coming up I feel that I might run short on time. Time is my enemy right now.  That and sleep deprivation.  I always wind up staying up super late because of how good a book is, cutting into the hours of sleep I should be getting.  I’m not giving up and I won’t back down.  It’s time to put my foot on the gas and kick it into high gear! Woo-Hoo! 100 here I come!

Happy Reading!