Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: Darcy's Voyage by Kara Louise

From the back cover:

A Tale of
Uncharted Love
On the Open Seas

In this enchanting and highly original retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet sets out for the new world aboard the grand ship Pemberley's Promise.  She's prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr. Darcy turns her world upside down.

When Elizabeth falls ill, Darcy throws convention overboard in a plan that will bind them to each other more deeply than he ever could have imagined.

But the perils of their ocean voyage pale in comparison to the harsh reality of society's rules that threaten their chance at happiness.  When they return to the lavish halls of England, will their love survive?

*          *          *

Over the past 15 years, the market for Jane Austen-themed novels has just exploded.  Aside from the truly strange ones (e.g., ones with vampires and the like), I'm game to read just about any of this genre that comes across my path.  And while I don't consider myself an expert in this area, I've read enough to discern the well-written and what I prefer to read.

Kara Louise's Darcy's Voyage took me a bit by surprise.  The idea of relocating the setting of Pride and Prejudice on a sailing vessel was unique, and I looked forward to see how this concept would play out.  What surprised me was the level at which I began to enjoy this story.  Many of us know the P&P story inside and out, so what could possibly be new about these characters to make the story compelling once again? 

Darcy’s Voyage accomplished this and more.  I would have enjoyed this tale if it had been about two characters completely unrelated to P&P.  The dance that is their relationship at sea was tantalizing, with the perfect romantic tension being held at all times.  Occasionally some of the tension would be released, providing satisfaction for the reader, but immediately another moment of tension would arrive, propelling the narrative forward.

I don’t believe it would be “spoiler material” to say that Darcy & Elizabeth return to England and find themselves in many scenes that are found in the source material.  The events on the ship have changed things a bit, but the characters continue in the same manner Miss Austen wrote them.  Again, Ms. Louise has the perfect balance of tension and payoff, keeping the now very-familiar story lines fresh and compelling. 

Like the quote states on the cover of this edition, I couldn’t put it down.  I read it whenever I could, asking my husband to drive my Mommy Minivan so that I could have time to read.  I read it while standing in line at the Post Office.  I told friends about the book.   Every chapter was wonderful, and I didn’t want it to end.

As I came to the final two chapters, I saved them to read in the evening, after the children were in bed and my husband was away at work.  It had been a rough day for a number of reasons, and I looked forward to finishing it on a lovely note.  I got in a stress-reducing workout, put the kids to bed, grabbed a scoop of ice cream (low fat, of course) and settled in for my last moments with the Nautical Darcy.  I hoped the ending would be as the rest of the book (and my ice cream), scrumptious and satisfying.

It was my pleasure to find the conclusion of the story to be absolutely perfect!  I can’t tell you how many books I’ve enjoyed up until the end….and they fall flat, leaving a bad taste in my literary mouth.  Darcy’s Voyage was the rare case wherein each page down to the closing one was enchanting.  I didn’t want it to end, but as it must, I’m glad the conclusion was crafted in the way that it was.

In addition to enjoying Ms. Louise’s storytelling, I also appreciated her choice to keep any romantic interludes decidedly PG-rated.   Lately I’ve become weary of novelists (Austen-related or otherwise) who devalue sex by offering an overabundance of details, and placing these intimate moments outside the safe harbor of a marital relationship.  Louise’s romance was delectable, being neither puritanical nor salacious.

Originally published as Pemberley’s Promise, Darcy’s Voyage was a journey well worth the crossing.  It was surprising, refreshing and filled my heart with joy.  Kara Louise has given us a wonderful gift, and I look forward to sharing this delightful diversion with others.

This title was provided to me by Sourcebooks Landmark. No obligation other than an honest review was required.


  1. Beautiful review, Laura! I loved this one too. the ending is deeply satisfying, isn't it?

  2. Meredith:

    Yes, it was!

    I went to your blog and read the interview-- very interesting!

    And folks, if you want to try to win a copy of Darcy's Voyage, head on over to Meredith's website where she's hosting a giveaway!

    If you haven't read Darcy's Voyage yet, I would save the interview for later, though....

  3. Lovely review -- very thoughtful and insightful! I'm not sure I would necessarily have grabbed this one but you've changed my mind! I've just finished Susan Kaye's first book in her Frederick Wentworth series and so the idea of more sea-related fiction is appealing!

  4. Audra:

    I'm glad I could influence you! I just loved this book. I loaned it to a friend of mine, raving incessantly about it. I can't wait to read more of Kara's work in the future.


  5. I am a brand new reader here. Hope you will come and visit me too here:



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