#72 A Review of The Matters at Mansfield by Carrie Bebris

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 The Matters at Mansfield is the fourth installment in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series, written by Carrie Bebris.  The Matters at Mansfield take the characters from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and embroils them into a scandalous murder mystery that must be solved by Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.  (For those who know black and white films and know what The Thin Man series is, the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy characters are exactly like Nick and Nora)

This book takes the Darcy’s to Riverton house for an engagement party for their cousin Roger Fitzwilliam.  They wish to be back at Pemberley enjoying the peace and quiet with their new daughter.  While at Riverton they discover that Lady Catherine de Bourgh is planning a well to do marriage for Anne and that Anne is completely unaware of the plan.  While everyone is at a ball one evening, Anne makes her escape.  A note is found from Anne telling Elizabeth that she has left with Mr. Henry Crawford and they are going to Gretna Green to be married. 

“Forgive my burdening you with the responsibility of imparting news to my mother which it will distress her to hear, but you alone understand the decision I now make.  ….Tonight I leave for Gretna Green with Mr. Crawford.”

Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam leave at once to try to reach the couple before the marriage ceremony takes place.  Upon arriving in Gretna Green they find the young couple married.  Darcy and Fitzwilliam tell them they must start to journey back towards Riverton so that they can face the wrath of Lady Catherine.  On the way back they stop in Mansfield to change the horses when Anne befalls an accident.  A carriage runs over her, rending her unable to walk for a time.  They are forced to stay in Mansfield until Anne is healed.  While there they learn that most of Mansfield is familiar with Mr. Crawford and that the town is ripe with gossip of his return.  Darcy and Fitzwilliam vow that they will find out what is amiss when who else but Lady Catherine and Elizabeth show up.  Soon after her arrival gossip begins about Crawford, a second wife shows up, and murders begin happening.  It’s up to Darcy and Elizabeth to figure out what is going on and fast, or run the risk of the family honor lost forever. 

While I was interested in the goings-on of this novel, it was my least favorite of the four I’ve read so far. The first three novels in the series I read cover to cover in one sitting.  This one took me a few days to complete, as each time I picked it up I couldn’t get into it.  I think that it was an interesting and original idea, but there was A LOT going on in this one.  I found myself repeating passages and going back a few chapters to re-read parts to remember who a character was or what their connection to person x was.  It really was a great mystery, but I think that it was just a bit much to process in the amount of pages written. 

3 out of 5 Stars

The Weekly Roundup – Week 2

SLOW SLOW WEEK.  Only finished two books this week.  Something Blue (Reviewed here) and The Matter at Mansfield (Review coming!)I was so unmotivated this week.  I was busy at work and by the time I got home I really just wanted to veg out.  My DVR is  super full and I’m also way behind on showing films for the film discussions part of my book club.  I decided to try to catch up on that stuff and find time to read each night.  I got through writing my blurbs for two of the five films I needed to and also showed one of them.  I started writing blurbs for films maybe two months ago for my book club on films I thought were important to see. (I have a huge love of films and like to share the knowledge I have on them) I dedicate each month to a different genre and select a film for each week.  I write a blurb on each film with a quick summary and some production notes and then show the film.  So anyway I showed one of the films I was behind on showing on Tuesday.  (Adam, Todd, and I watched Vertigo – SO GOOD)

Thursday we helped do a surprise for our friend Zach’s birthday.  His girlfriend was flying his best friend Sky in from Nebraska and needed us to keep Zach busy while she went to the airport to pick Sky up.  We planned on doing dinner down in New Haven but Sky’s flight got delayed and we had to roll with the changes.  We moved dinner to Todd and my apartment and kept Zach busy.  We ordered some chinese food and waited for Jess to show up with Sky!  We sat down to eat when Jess walked in and sat down with us for dinner.  We all chit-chatted for about 2 minutes when there was another knock on the door.  We had Zach go open it and he was absolutely flabbergasted to see Sky waiting at the door.  We sat down for a great dinner and just hung out for a while.  After everyone left I read for exactly 10 minutes and passed out. 

Friday bought a day of work followed by an evening of Todd and I catching up on the DVR.  We caught up on all the episodes of Boardwalk Empire that we were behind on.  (We highly recommend that show)  I also finished up my blog review for Something Blue and began drafting some ideas for new posts on my blog.  Todd and I got to bed around 2am, only to wake up super early the next day for our fantastic trip to the DMV.  

Todd and I spent most of our Saturday at the DMV getting our cars registered and plated for CT.  If my next trip to the DMV is in ten years, it will be too soon.  Todd and I wasted a good part of our day there and spent a fortune.  We got there got our paperwork and filled everything out, only to be told we needed emissions testings.  We got our cars tested and headed back to DMV to wait forever.  We finally got everything settled and were off to the bank.  I changed my name at the bank and then Todd and I added each other to our accounts.  Then it was off for lunch and some errands.  Saturday night we celebrated Zach’s birthday at Jess’ house and had a freaking blast.  Had some beers, played some pong, and hung out.  Great great time.

Sunday it was off to New Jersey for a wake.  We spent the morning with my Grandma and had some lunch.  Then off to the wake. I got a fair amount of reading done during the car ride down.  I got to see my sister and her fiancée Jason during the trip which made me happy.

Hopefully this week I’ll be a bit more motivated.  I’ve cleaned up the DVR and I’m almost caught up on my movie blurbs for book club.  I’m looking forward to being all caught up and having another five books under my belt.  (I closed this week out with completing #72 – still progress!)

Just a note – I’m hoping those reading my blog (many thanks to you) are enjoying what has been published so far.  I hope that you enjoy it enough to share my blog with others!!  Thanks so much for the support so far – it’s much appreciated.

Happy Reading!!!

#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