I have a general rule for book that are companions or inspired by earlier, classic works. The general rule is this: Don't read them. Too many times have I picked up a play-off of Peter Pan, Les Miserables, and, yes, Pride and Prejudice. It's better to leave the works in the hands of their old, dead masters, right? Not always. Take this book for instance.
When I was asked if I should like to review Follies Past, I was a little hesitant, but also very intrigued. A prequel to Pride and Prejudice exploring the Darcy-Wickham disaster? Of course I'd be curious! So, with equal amounts trepidation and excitement, I said that it would be my pleasure to read and review Follies Past.
I am so glad I did.
Melanie Kerr has a fantastic grasp on the regency era. She's obviously done her research and the mannerisms, descriptions, and speech patterns were down to a "T." Her very style of writing mimics Austen's and it's easy to imagine that this was truly a story written by the renowned lady herself.
Not only does the book sound like Austen's, but the characters aren't too unbelievable so as to ruin the illusion. Georgiana Darcy is delightful, timid, and naive- just like she should be. Her brother was less of a focus, but what we saw of him seemed very fitting. The same for Bingley and Wickham. They were all familiar and I thought, yeah, they'd do that. Catherine de Bourg renews her appearance and is as pompous as ever. Anne was... something. Not exactly like in the original, but I appreciated her!
The only character that I felt a bit unconvinced with was Caroline Bingley. She was very like herself, but she did a few things that I just did not believe she would ever, ever do. I enjoyed her story arc, but it didn't exactly click.
We are introduced to new characters as well- Lord Ashwell, Sophia, and Clare. I found them all good characters in their own ways, and certainly a welcome addition to the tale.
As for the plot... well, we all kind of know it already, but believe me, there are twists and aspects that Melanie Kerr added in all on her volition and they work marvelously! The plot certainly kept me engrossed for two days straight until I finished the novel.
All in all, this is a delightful return to a classic novel that I've loved for many years. It mixes the old with the new in a perfect combination, told in stylistically and believably. The only thing that took away from my reading experience was Miss Bingley, but even that wasn't bad at all.
A solid four gears.
The Airship Library