Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Searching For Pemberly by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Now for something completely different, I loved this tale of a girl in World War II, from a very poor mining community in Minooka, Pennsylvania, USA, who as a part of her work for the war effort is sent to work in post war Germany.
A Germany ravaged and harrowing, she then moves onto England, an England still in the grip of austerity and rationing.
As a child in Minooka she has escaped in to the classics with Jane Austen transporting her out of her bleak surroundings and into the lush green English countryside.
She had always loved Pride and Prejudice and so when she has the chance to escape London’s bomb ravaged streets and go in search of Pemberley in Derbyshire with her work colleague, she jumps at it.
The story of Pride and Prejudice is overlaid by the story of a family that had existed with a very similar history, the story is slowly revealed to our heroine in letters and diary excepts.
At the same time she is falling in love with an American bomber pilot.
The book is multi layered and riveting getting under the skin of all the characters and how they coped with the horrors of the First and Second World Wars and how those wars changed the social structures of the time.
The heroine Maggie Joyce tries to trace all the places that Pride and prejudice is based upon at a time when so many of the great British Mansions were lost, as they were too large and expensive to upkeep and were crumbling as the neglect during the wars could not be put right due to the lack of materials and labour, in a country needing to rebuild after the bombing.
Although this book covers so many different levels, it is smoothly written and carries you along. Maggie Joyce is likable and you want her love life to work out well and have a happy ending.
I know this is not a straight forward sequel but do pick it up, it really is a very accomplished piece of fiction.