In A Nutshell

  • Genre: Regency Romance, Published Fan-fiction, Jane Austen Sequel
  • Notes: If you are looking for a Jane Austen P&P Sequel – for the love of God look elsewhere.
  • Recommended for: My worst enemy.

The Book that levitated Jane Austen’s corpse from her grave so she could roll down a hill . . .  I normally wouldn’t even waste a review on a book I found so lacking, but I feel it is my biblio file moral responsibility to make sure people know A) Not all JA sequels are this bad and B) You really should steer clear of this one in particular.

Just to give those of us here who have not read JA continuations let me give you a glimpse into this world. There has been a renaissance of Jane Austen novels in the form of What-If Books. What if Pride & Prejudice was told from Darcy’s perspective? (Darcy’s Passions by Regina Jeffers.) Or some of my favorites by Abigail Reynolds, What if Elizabeth was forced to accept Darcy’s first proposal – even while she still hated him? (The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds.) Or even just simple continuations starting at the end of the original P&P, my favorite being Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll.

All of these are fantastic books written by passionate Austenites. So why did I stray into unfamiliar territory and read TMBV? Well I got a little search-happy on one night and singled out all the Jane Austen related books that I found interesting and after reading reviews decided to try out this little ditty. I may have been drunk when I purchased this – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

How can I even begin to deconstruct the awful-ness that is this book? Let’s start with the plot line, shall we?

  • The books synopsis is as follows:
    The Mistress’s Black Veil begins five years after that fateful day at Hunsford Parsonage when Mr. Darcy proposed to Elizabeth Bennet. The Bennets, now reduced to poverty after the death of Mr. Bennet, are barely surviving, having been thrown into the hedgerow by their cousin, Mr. Collins, at the directive of his noble patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh. As the situation becomes even more desperate, Elizabeth makes a difficult and irrevocable choice that will forever change her life and the lives of the ones she loves. In the end will she and Fitzwilliam Darcy find their way to their happily ever after?
    • OK. So I can go with the part where Collins throws the Bennet girls out. No problem. I can even get Lydia having a baby with Wickham. The part where she loses me? *Spoiler alert* Elizabeth becomes a prostitute. Albeit an expensive and “classy” prostitute. And, yes, she is bought by Mr. Darcy for his exclusive use. Yep, Austen is taking the first roll down the hill.
    • Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a dramatic fanfiction story as much as the next person – but this is so far off from the character in the book that I wonder why Baxley didn’t simply write her own characters. What made it so ridiculous is how easily Elizabeth fell into the idea of – oh, I should be a prostitute – duh! Please. I could maybe have bought it if we saw her character struggle with this decision – but she jumps right into this.
    • How does Darcy purchase Lizzy without knowing it’s her? I’m glad you asked. Lizzy wears a mask. And she speaks spanish. And she goes by the name Miss Sofia Molina. I shit you not.  Austen’s corpse is rolling fast now.
    • In addition to all this? I think theres a whole lot of racist undertones. Lizzy has a chinese servant who speaks in broken english the whole time and I couldn’t help but get exasperated with this ridiculous addition.

So it’s at this point in the book where I think “Oh, well this must be a PWP novel, and I guess it’s only written to be a steamy romance novel.” If you don’t know PWP stands for “Plot? What Plot?” So I trekked on through. Alas, no. You get no steam – there is plenty of sex, but you really don’t get to read about it. At which point I think – what the hell is the purpose of this badly written, PWP, with no steam? It’s a joke.

To top off this big pile of crap there was one continuous aspect that made me want to shoot infants. At the beginning of every sorry chapter, the author writes this condescending, omniscient excerpt introducing the next part and discussing what had happened previously. Baxley uses this pretentious and artificial diction that makes me dislike him/her immensely. For example:

 “Ah, our good and gentle reader we have now come to a crossroad for our beloved hero and heroine. What will he do as the shadow of indecision falls over him? ‘Tis times like these when I must call upon the help of a friend. “Cupid,” I say, “draw back your bow and let your arrow go,” for like Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing, our gallant hero is in dire need of a bit of a push.

I’m amazed I finished this “book.” I’m amazed it was published. I guess if you are a hopeful writer you should read this to know you really don’t have to be good to get published.

Bottom line: this is a horrendous manipulation of JA’s classic story and it should only be recommended as a joke to someone your really don’t like. There are better plots, writers, and stories of JA adaptations out there (see beginning of review) that are worth your time.