By Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
Why do I have a feeling they came up with the title before the plot for this book??
After 15 years of marriage, the Darcy family are ready for an adventure. After many years of living quietly at Pemberley, Darcy is beginning to wish he could follow his father to Egypt, to search for the hidden treasure of the pharaohs. When his cousin Edward Fitzwilliam, younger brother to Col. Fitzwilliam, tells Darcy he is going on an archaeological expedition to Egypt, Darcy and Elizabeth decide to take all their children and go as well. They set off down the Nile and all seems to be going well. But their youngest daughter’s strange fascination with an Egyptian doll complicates matters, and the pharaoh’s curse may yet catch up with them.
This was actually surprisingly better than I thought it would be. It started off badly so I wasn’t inclined to keep reading, but once I pushed through it wasn’t so bad. I got confused with the Fitzwilliam brothers and was annoyed they weren’t calling Col. Fitzwilliam by his rank, and it took me a few chapters to realize they were separate characters. Once I cleared that up it was easier to like the book. The plot started off very slow and boring, but actually got ok towards the end.
The main plot deals with Edward’s obsession with finding treasure, and youngest Darcy child Meg’s obsession and (possible) possession by an ancient Egyptian figurine of a wronged princess. There’s a touch of supernatural gothic-ness to it that I enjoyed, although the supernatural elements were never explained but instead left up to the reader to decide whether they were true or not. It sounds kind of crazy to put Elizabeth and Darcy in Egypt, a place so very different from the original novel’s setting. But once I got past the jarring nature of it, it was fine. There’s always a point in this kinds of books where you have to shrug and just roll with it.
There were too many Darcy children if you ask me. 6 is too many to keep track of. Plus it’s very unlikely that a wealthy family like the Darcys would have that much interaction with their children. Children were mostly handed over to the care of governesses and tutors, and then off to school if they were boys. The Darcys certainly wouldn’t be taking their children to the museum themselves, and probably wouldn’t have taken their children travelling with them until the children were older. It’s anachronistic for Elizabeth to be teaching her children or really doing anything other than passing them off to governesses. It shows a laziness and lack of research on the authors’ part. Only one of the children is important to the plot, so the others were kind of useless and I got them mixed up a lot.
There was actually a plot to this book, which kind of shocked me. And it didn’t have anything to do with ripping off the original! It was almost a supernatural mystery. Youngest Darcy Meg seems to be drawn to a certain spot in the desert, aided by her creepy, possibly sentient Egyptian doll. As they search for the treasure, it becomes more and more obvious that something unusual is happening, and people begin to wonder if it could be the curse of the pharaohs coming to claim more victims. Although not a very “Jane Austen” plot, it was at the very least engaging and interesting. Implausible, but at least I wasn’t bored.
I thought the Wickham subplot was totally wasted, and need not have been there at all. The Wickhams follow the Darcys to Egypt in hopes of getting the treasure for themselves. When they were first introduced as being part of the story I thought, oh goody, Wickham is going to cause all sorts of trouble. But they were hardly in the story and ended up only showing up at the end. It felt like they were shoehorned in there. It would have been better to either give them a bigger role, or cut them out completely.
There were a few good original characters. Edward Fitzwilliam was alright, once I figured out he was a separate person from Col. Richard Fitzwilliam. For a while I thought the authors had just got his name wrong and it really annoyed me. I wouldn’t put it past some of these books. But I was happy to figure out he was an original character. Although I did have issue with the fact that Col. Fitzwilliam specifically states in P&P that he doesn’t have enough money to marry without marrying an heiress, and he has to work in the army, and yet his younger brother seems to have money to throw at an archaeological expedition? As a younger brother, who would not inherit, Edward would have to find a profession same as his other brother, while the eldest brother inherited the family fortune. It seems unlikely to me that he would have that kind of money when the middle brother does not.
I enjoyed original character Sophie Lucas, younger sister to Charlotte. She’s a sweet girl, rather quiet, who had previously been disappointed in love, and who Elizabeth decides to bring along as a companion and help with the children. The love triangle between Sophie, Edward, and the artist Paul Inkworthy was interesting without getting too annoying. It didn’t get drawn out too much, and I was satisfied with the outcome. Paul Inkworthy was not a very interesting character on his own, but he was tolerable. Although, really, calling the artist “Inkworthy”? Not a very creative name. Might as well call him “Paintman” and get it over with. Oh well. At least he wasn’t too annoying.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. My expectations for this really were zero. So to go from zero to a two and a half isn’t bad. There were still anachronisms and bad writing galore in here, but at least the plot was engaging and the characters weren’t too annoying. The premise was pretty ridiculous, but once I started to roll with it, it was fine. That’s pretty much all there is to stay about this book: it was fine. Not great, but not bad either. Just fine.