“I’d Rather Be at Pemberley”

I saw these words on the back of a T-shirt from across a crowded room.   For a moment I couldn’t figure out what they could mean although considering what a big fan I am of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice I’m surprised I had to think about it at all.

Pemberley is the home of Mr. D’Arcy the love (and hate) interest of Miss Elizabeth Bennett in Austen’s 1813 classic novel where love must triumph over scheming relatives, class status and of course pride and prejudice.  For 200 years now readers have been fascinated by the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. D’Arcy – so much so that they have taken on a life of their own in countless additional books, movies and even a TV series.

Little did I know when I first stumbled upon it the wealth of fiction and movies about these beloved characters.  Permberley Shades: Pride and Prejudice Continues (D. Bonavia-Hunt),  Mr. D’Arcy Takes a Wife ( Linda Berdoll) and Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam. D’Arcy  (Sharon Lathan) all attempt to answer the question of what happens next for the couple.  And this is only the beginning.

Browsing through the mystery section of the library one day I stumbled across a series by Carrie Bebris called The Mr. and Mrs. D’Arcy Mysteries.  Set after their marriage and weaving in other Jane Austen novels there are four books where the couple (mostly Elizabeth) solves mysteries – with a little mystical twist.  Another mystery adaptation is P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley where the couple has to solve a murder while dealing with various guests and relatives – what fun.

But D’Arcy and Elizabeth are not the only ones who get some attention.  There are books featuring the supporting characters such as Elizabeth’s sister’s in Colleen McCullough’s Independence of Miss Mary Bennett  and Lydia Bennett’s Story: A Sequal to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Odiwe.   Georgianna D’Arcy is not to be forgotten either, she grows up and looks for love in C. Allyn Pierson’s Mr. D’Arcy’s Little Sister

Other author’s look to the future, Mr D’Arcy’s Daughter (Rebecca Ann Collins) and The Ladies of Longbourn (Rebecca Ann Collins) to name two.  There is also the classic retelling of the original tale by Seth Grahame Smith in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – yup I said zombies.  Apparently there’s also a little ninja action thrown in for good measure.

But let us not forget the movies and small screen adaptations and there have been many.  My favorite will always be the A&E mini-series starring Colin Firth as Mr. D’Arcy although many people will argue that the Kiera Knightly’s version released in the theatre a few years ago is better.  There is even a Bollywood interpretation, which I like, called Bride and Prejudice (they worked in some great dance numbers) and a TV series called Lost in Austen when a modern-day girl trades places with Elizabeth Bennett.

I think it is safe to say that these characters resonate with us.  If you haven’t read the original give it a try and then go see what might happen next – you’ll have a lot of options!

Ann Cady
Chemung County Library District Board