Pemberley: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice

Emma Tennant

Hodder & Stoughton 1993

Presumption: An Entertainment

Julia Barrett

The University of Chicago Press 1993
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997
These two sequels to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, published in the same year, are very different in both style and plot. Neither pays much attention to the outline of the future Austen offers in the closing chapter of Pride and Prejudice itself. In Pemberley the tension is provided by Elizabeth's failure to produce an heir to Pemberley and her doubts about whether Darcy wants one. A Christmas gathering at Pemberley brings their extended families — including Darcy's heir, a remote cousin — together in a most unhappy fashion, creating the estrangement necessary for the plot. In Presumption Georgiana Darcy is the chief protagonist; a dashing naval captain and an architect of humbler station are rivals for her affection. The introduction of Sir Geoffrey Portland, a mentor to Darcy, gives Elizabeth someone to impress, and Wickham plumbs new depths of infamy.

Just as Pemberley is starting to get under way, everything is resolved in a sudden flurry, as if Tennant had suddenly repented of her temerity in attempting the work at all (or her publisher had only contracted for 180 pages). In Presumption Barrett tries to emulate Austen's language and style, with mixed success (it sounds stilted in places, and the point of view jumps around too much). It is easy to appropriate Austen's setting and characters, but far harder to write something as appealing. Either Pemberley or Presumption will provide entertainment for an idle hour, but I'll take Georgette Heyer any day.

March 1997

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%T Pemberley
%S A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice
%A Tennant, Emma
%I Hodder & Stoughton
%D 1993
%O hardcover
%G ISBN 0340598816
%P 184pp

%T Presumption
%S An Entertainment
%A Barrett, Julia
%I The University of Chicago Press
%D 1993
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0226038130
%P 238pp