Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reviews for Searching for Pemberley

Searching for Pemberley is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and others.

Lib's Library Blogspot - Searching For Pemberley, is different from any other Jane Austen "sequel" that I've read. It's a love story, inside of a love story, inside of a love story. A facinating look into "Austen life" in the 1800's, and into life in Europe in the 1940's. Filled with historical details, and packed with everything that Austen fans are looking for... dashing young men, beautiful young women, conflicts, social issues, humor, British aristocracy, and LOVE.

Could it be true, that Darcy and Elizabeth were real people? Is Pemberley still standing today? Simonsen has done a wonderful job. Searching For Pemberley took me on a fabulous ride. I found myself inside of Austen's world, and I enjoyed every minute! If you are a dyed in the wool Austen fan, Searching For Pemberley should go right to the top of your TBR pile. Jane would be proud! http://libslibrary.blogspot.com/2009/12/searching-for-pemberley-review.html

Jenny Loves To Read - This book is much more than a Pride and Prejudice re-imagined, or continuation of the story. It takes the view that Austen was inspired by real events, relates that inspiration, and along the way tells the story of people living and growing up in England during two world wars. The author also explains Maggie's background and her life growing up in a coal mining town. Again, another tough way to live, but people did it and still do.

This story is fashioned in such a way that the reader forgets they are reading an Austen inspired book. I became wrapped up in the stories of the characters. The British are quite tenacious and let nothing stand in their way. I was transported to the past. Between food rationing and the immigrant experience in America, it became quite clear to me, that I am lucky to be living now. Simonsen clearly did her research, and relates these historical experiences into a great story.

There are indeed three love stories, and possibly four if you count Maggie's relationship with an American airman. Through him the reader learns what it was like to be a bombardier. It is not pretty folks. It is very sad and it amazes me that these young men were able to come back home and lead normal lives, for the most part. As a matter of fact, Maggie has two men vying for her heart; both airmen, one American one British. Two men in uniform, my word...

Overall this was a very enjoyable and engrossing story. I lost myself reading this story, and empathized with each and every character, along with their trials and tribulations. I just wanted to make them all a cup of tea.My Rating: 98/100. Loved it!!! http://jennylovestoread.blogspot.com/2009/12/review-searching-for-pemberley-by-mary.html

Chicks With Books - Searching for Pemberly is wonderful historical fiction! Filled with romance, history and the mystery behind the real life characters of Pride & Prejudice. Instead of reinventing Pride & Prejudice into a different story, Simonsen gives us Maggie Joyce, a girl who loves Jane Austen, who happens to be working in London and has "stumbled upon a rumor that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was based on the lives of a real couple."

What could be more fun then solving the age old question of who the real Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are?! Just after World War II, a young Maggie Joyce, a Jane Austen fan, has just graduated from business school and leaves her coal town in Pennsylvania for office work in Washington, DC. The time just after the war was a dark and dreary time, similar in some respects to the world that Jane Austen writes about in her novel Pride & Prejudice, and we can see the connection that Maggie Joyce has with Jane's work. When it's time to move on, we see a little spark of adventure in Maggie as she travels to work first in Germany and then finally in London, England, home to her heroine Jane Austen! It's here where the story really begins... With a tour of what is thought to be Pemberly and the rumors of the real life love story that Pride & Prejudice was based on!

Although this is fiction, you just can't stop yourself from wishing that all that Maggie uncovers is the truth behind the actual romance between "Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy". The story is so well thought out that it is quite believable. Through correspondence and long forgotten diaries & letters Maggie finds, we are propelled into the mystery ourselves! The writing is good, the research done to stay true to the times is evident, and of course the characters are likable and believable. A very unique take in what is a large number of Jane Austen inspired books, Searching for Pemberley is a wonderful story. I so enjoyed this book! And if you are a Jane fan, you will enjoy it too! Simonsen treats us to a leisurely paced story! Like enjoying a steeping cup of tea, you slowly breathe it all in. Maggie doesn't uncover anything earth shattering, but what Simonsen uncovers is a story that will keep your interest! A wonderful mystery, a nice heap of romance, and this all adds up to a book well worth any Jane Austen fans' time. The story was more than I could have hoped for!

Once Upon a Romance - Searching for Pemberley is the first novel by Mary Lydon Simonsen and it is a great historical debut. This novel is rich in history and romance as American Maggie Joyce meets up with Beth and Jack Crowell, a couple with knowledge and information about the lives of William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrision, a couple whose lives sound very much like those of the lead characters from Pride and Prejudice, Fitwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Fascinated by old letters, the love story of the Crowell’s, and more than a little interested in finding romance herself, Maggie learns of how the Crowell’s love has managed to get them through many family deaths from war. She also learns a great deal about the Lacey and Garrison family through diaries and letters and a lot about herself and what is important to her. Her discovery of what is important when it comes to love leads her away from one man and to another, the Crowell’s son Michael, a man destined to be her own Mr. Darcy.

This was an enjoyable book with a lot of history and some romance. I found the story entertaining and thought the author did a great job of incorporating the main characters from Pride and Prejudice into this book... http://www.onceuponaromance.net/SearchingForPemberley.htm

Austenprose - Could Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice have been based on the courtship of Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey, a Regency era couple who appear to be the doppelgangers of the legendary Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy? The possibility is intriguing to Maggie Joyce, a 22-year old American working in England after WWII who hears rumors of the story of Elizabeth and William Lacey while touring Montclair, their palatial estate in Derbyshire whose similarities to Pemberley, the grand country estate in Pride and Prejudice seem to be more than a striking coincidence. As a devoted fan of Austen’s most popular novel, Maggie is curious to discover the truth. When she is introduced to Beth and Jack Crowell, a local couple with strong connections to the Lacey family, they gradually reveal to Maggie their own research through the Lacey letters, journals and family lore. As Maggie begins her own journey into the real-life parallel story of the Lacey/Darcy families she meets two young men, a handsome American ex Army Corpsman Rob McAllister who survived his treacherous tour of duty as a bomber navigator over Germany and the Crowell’s youngest son Michael serving in the RAF. Drawn into the struggles of her own love story and inspired by an eighteenth century version amazingly similar to Austen’s original, Maggie, like Elizabeth Bennet must choose if she will only marry for love.

A year ago I read and reviewed the self published version of this book, Pemberley Remembered. Recognizing its strengths and weaknesses, I was pleased to see that it had been picked up by Sourcebooks and would be revamped and combined with a second book, the sequel that Simonsen had already completed. I see vast improvements from its original edition. The complicated story line and vast historical details have been edited down, and the love story of Maggie, Rob and Michael brought forward... It is still obvious from the historical references and antecedents that Simonsen did her research on Georgian and World War era English history as she includes stories about events, people and places to support her characters with aplomb. Searching for Pemberley reads like a documentary where subjects talk about their memories of people and events, or personal letters are read a-la the Ken Burns school of documentary film making... so once I accepted that this novel was not about getting into the characters head or their interactions, I quite enjoyed it...

Written with respect for Jane Austen and a passion for history, Simonsen has combined two genres into a bittersweet war-time drama encompassing the tragic elements of the devastation of war, not only on the men and women that bravely served, but the friends, family and loved ones that they came home to. The references to Pride and Prejudice will enchant Janeites as they remember favorite passages and compare plotlines... http://austenprose.com/2010/01/05/searching-for-pemberley-by-mary-lyndon-simonsen-%e2%80%93-a-review/

The Book Tree: Maggie Joyce finds herself working in London after World War II where she makes friends with a coworker. Little did Maggie know that she would stumble upon an adventure that would take her on a search for the identies of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. The couple made famous in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. What if the characters in Pride and Prejudice were based on real people but made to appear fictitious? What if descendants of these characters were still alive? What if Maggie could discover the real truth?

The book gives a character synopsis so that you can catch yourself up for the story if you are not familiar with the Pride and Prejudice characters. I think Jane Austen followers, as well as those that have never read a word of Jane Austen, will love this book. It delves into a world where every reader can get excited about the possibilities of what might have been. It allows the reader to go on the search with Maggie and figure out the mystery as if they were Maggie. I highly recommend this book!!! http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/2009/12/book-review-searching-for-pemberly-by.html

POD Book of Reviews and More - Maggie Joyce, a young American living in post-World War II England, begins this novel by searching for Pemberley – or, rather, visiting a Regency-era home that may have been the inspiration for the stately home of Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s famous novel. However, a simple afternoon excursion and a conversation about a beloved book ultimately lead Maggie into a soulful search for her own heart’s content...

Maggie’s interest in the story of a Regency-era family who may have inspired Jane Austen’s timeless book Pride and Prejudice blossoms into an enduring friendship with the British couple who have kept and catalogued the family letters and diaries. Through these historical documents, readers are treated to a retelling of the P & P story, with characters and events just different enough from the Austen novel to keep things interesting. Soon, however, we become immersed in the story of the British couple themselves, Beth and Jack Crowell. Beth is a descendent of the Darcy family (here named Lacey) and Jack is the son of her family’s butler. Their unorthodox and class-breaking romance is set against the backdrop of World War I, when a generation of young Englishmen were killed, maimed, or emotionally-scarred by the horrors of war.

Meanwhile, as Maggie grows closer to these people, she begins a romance of her own with a former American flyer, Rob McAllister, who bears visible and not-so-visible scars from his own experiences bombing Germany. As Maggie tentatively embarks on her first true love affair, she finds herself conflicted. She loves Rob, but he will not commit to her, and she is undeniably attracted to Michael Crowell, the son of Beth and Jack, a man she barely knows, but whose family (and ancestors) she has come to love.

This novel intricately weaves multiple timelines of British history – the Regency era and both World Wars – and also includes an engaging glimpse of Maggie’s own hometown in the coal-mining region of the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains, near Scranton. Simonsen has created characters who tug at your heart and skillfully paints an emotional picture of the devastation of war... However, there were also plenty of joyful and truly funny moments, such as a diary entry in which “Mrs. Bennet” gives advice on the marriage bed to her daughters and a humorous retelling of the eldest Crowell son facing a “privacy hole” cut into the bedcovers on his wedding night in Italy. Searching for Pemberley is a historical romance of complexity and depth, with skillfully layered characters that readers will remember for a long time. http://podbram.blogspot.com/

Diary of an Eccentric- Jane Austen sequels and "re-imaginings" are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I love it when I find one that stands out from the crowd. Also, I am always seeking out books on World War II. Put these together, and you have Mary Lydon Simonsen's Searching for Pemberley.

Simonsen's heroine is Maggie Joyce, an American stationed in London in 1947 with the Army Exchange Service. World War II ended just two years prior, and the British are still feeling the pinch of rations, grieving the death of loved ones killed in the battlefield or by the bombs, and doing their best to get by while standing in the midst of destruction...

Maggie travels with a friend to Derbyshire to visit Montclair, a historic house that once belonged to William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison Lacey, a couple believed to have inspired Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Maggie, a huge fan of the classic novel, wants to know as much as she can about the home and the Laceys to determine whether they truly are Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Her search to learn more about the Laceys brings her to the doorstep of Jack and Beth Crowell, and an instant bond is formed. Jack and Beth grow to love Maggie and think of her as a daughter, and through frequent visits and correspondence, Maggie reads letters and diary entries and slowly uncovers the history of the Lacey and Garrison families. Readers take the journey alongside Maggie, and those who have read Pride and Prejudice will see similarities between Austen's beloved characters and Beth's ancestors...

Meanwhile, Maggie must contend with a longing to return to her hometown in Pennsylvania and her desire at the same time to stay away. She comes from a coal-mining town with few opportunities, and she's grown to love the life she's leading in England. Besides Jack and Beth, Maggie has feelings for both Rob, an American who served as a navigator on a B-17 bomber during the war and wears the scars to prove it, and Michael, Beth and Jack's son and a pilot in the RAF. Things get a little complicated for Maggie, especially when she learns how deeply the horrors of war have affected Rob.

Searching for Pemberley grabbed me from the first page, and I was so lost in the story that I was reading 50-page chunks on the train and bus and almost missing my stop. Simonsen writes from the first person viewpoint of Maggie, but her use of storytelling is what makes the narrative shine. Whether the story being told is about the Laceys, the Crowell's love affair, or the hardships experienced during the Great War and World War II, it feels as though you are sitting by the fire listening to an old friend chat. Simonsen did a great job crafting the story of the Laceys -- making them different enough from the Darcys to keep the story fresh -- and seamlessly weaving in Jack and Beth's story. I actually was surprised how much the book dealt with the topic of war and its impact, which makes Searching for Pemberley so much more than a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. Honestly, the Jane Austen aspect of the story is just one part of the puzzle...

I found the entire book interesting, and Simonsen did an admirable job moving between the Regency, Great War, and World War II settings. I never expected to discover a book that successfully merges two of my primary reading interests into one story, so you can bet this gem of a novel will hold a special place on my shelf. http://diaryofaneccentric.blogspot.com/2009/12/searching-for-pemberley-by-mary-lydon.html

Savvy Verse and Wit: Mary Simonsen's Searching for Pemberley starts was a premise many interviewers often ask authors about their fiction: "Are any of your characters based upon real people?" Did Jane Austen use real people to write the great love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? Simonsen's book may not offer the truth behind Austen's characters, but it does spin a unique mystery tale through which one possible reality of Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennet are discovered.

Mr. Crowell, you don't know me. I'm Maggie Joyce, but I was wondering if . . .' But that was as far as I got.

'You're here about the Darcy's right? Don Caton rang me to let me know you might be coming 'round. Come through. Any friend of Jane Austen's is a friend of mine.

Maggie Joyce is the main protagonist and an American from a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. She quickly leaves her hometown of Minooka for Washington, D.C., to help with the government with its World War II-related administrative work. Eventually she is stationed in Germany and later in England following the end of the war. She meets a fantastic family, the Crowells, who help her unravel the real family behind Jane Austen's characters.

Beth gestured for me to follow her into the parlor. She had a way of carrying herself that was almost regal, especially when compared to her husband, who reminded me of a former football player who had taken a hit or two.
Told from Maggie's point of view, the novel grabs readers with its immediacy as Maggie moves through war-torn Europe and reads through a variety of diary entries and letters to uncover the origins of Pride and Prejudice. Readers who have read Austen's novel once or more than a dozen times will recognize echoes of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in the Crowells and may even find parts of the mystery obvious. However, this story is more than a look at where Austen may have found inspiration, it is about a nation (England) and its people in the midst of rebuilding after the devastation of the German blitzkrieg and World War II. There also a healthy dose of romance between Maggie and two beaus that add to the tension.

Nightmares from the war that I hadn't had in ten, fifteen years came back. Jesus, they all came back, he said, massaging his temples as if the act would block out any unwanted images. Picking up bodies and having them fall apart in my hands. Stepping on limbs. Being scared shitless during barrages.

Simonsen does an excellent job examining the shell shock felt by airmen and other military personnel and how their war experiences could impact their relationships with family, friends, and lovers. While there are some occasions in this nearly 500-page book that are bogged down by too much detail, Simonsen's characters are well developed and the twists and turns as Maggie unravels the mystery of the Bennets and the Darcys are fun. The aftermath of World War II is well done and rich in emotional and physical detail, showing Simonsen's deft research and keen eye. Searching for Pemberley is an excellent addition to the every growing market of Jane Austen spin-offs.

Review from My Book Addiction: This is a strong love story, it is amusing, it’s about times after the war in Britain. It has strong characters, and a good story line. I would recommend this book especially if you like time period.

Books Like Breathing: I have been very lucky with Jane Austen sequels lately... This one is no exception. It was unlike any other Jane Austen sequel I have ever read. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

I really liked that this was a mix of historical fiction and a Jane Austen sequel. Two of my very favorite genres mixed into one book. The premise of this novel was also really great. The idea of Lizzy and Darcy being real people made me do a mini-happy dance. I think that it is a dream every Pride and Prejudice fan has… that their hero and heroine really had that beautiful love story. I also thought that the romance between Maggie and Michael was really well done. I really liked that their story did not mirror Lizzy and Will (Darcy) because I think that would have been the easy way. They had their own feel and were much more easy going than Lizzy and Will.

The history geek in me feels that she must comment so she will. I really thought that the use of diaries and letters helped to bring the story of Lizzy and Will to life. I did not feel as if they were specters from the past but real people with an interesting and quite smushy romance. Maggie was also great to follow during her research. It was so fun to follow her quest for knowledge about the real Lizzy and Darcy and as a reformed historian, I think the historical research was the most fun part of the book.

Overall, this was one of the most fun experiences that I have had reading a Jane Austen sequel in a while. I would recommend this to anyone looking for something really different. I can’t wait for Simonsen’s next books. Grade: A

A Bibliophile's Bookshelf: "Rather than writing a sequel ..., Mary Simonsen has gone a different route. She’s written a unique novel based on the idea that the characters of Pride and Prejudice were actually real people that Jane Austen knew and based her popular book on.

Searching for Pemberleyis rich in historical detail, as the book is set in the post-war England. History buffs will certainly be pleased with how accurate the historical facts are, and as someone who hasn’t read many post-war novels I found the historical details very enjoyable.

This was such a sweet, lovely read, with such rich characters and it was with much regret that it had to end... With the holidays just around the corner, I definitely recommend purchasing this beautifully written book for the Jane Austen fan in your family. I know I will be buying a copy for my favorite Jane Austen fans." For the complete review, please visit: A Bibliofile's Bookshelf

Publisher's Weekly: Using a literary mystery rooted in Jane Austen's inspiration for Pride and Prejudice, Simonsen's debut novel brings resonance to the story of a love-torn American girl in post-WWII London. Young and eager for adventure, Maggie Joyce has left her jobless Pennsylvania coal-mining town for a typist position overseas. In London, she discovers two love interests as well as connections to the real-life Londoners rumored to have been the basis for Pride's Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Learning to disregard her prim and proper instincts, Maggie becomes closer to her very own version of Darcy, as well as the families of the original Darcy and Bennet, from whom she receives old diary entries and letters. Simonsen is clever and evenhanded, maintaining an unhurried pace in both the Austen adventure and Maggie's love life. Fans of historical fiction and Austen should savor this leisurely read.

The Romantic Times: In this sweet and nostalgic novel, Simonsen borrows from Pride and Prejudice to create her own post-World War II love story, originally published in 2007 as Pemberley Remembered. Simonsen's attention to Maggie's complex character shows.

Austenesque Reviews: “Searching for Pemberley,”originally published as “Pemberley Remembered” in 2007, is an exceptional Austen-Inspired novel that combines history, romance, war, and “Pride and Prejudice.” In this novel, Mary Lydon Simonsen explores the possibility of Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice” being inspired by real people and illustrates how the love story of Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey parallels that of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy...

Maggie Joyce, our quiet and unassuming heroine, does not have a lot to be cheerful about as she lives in London post World War II and works for the Army Exchange Service. Even though the war ended two years ago much of London is still devastated and destroyed, items like eggs and tea are considered a scarcity, and living quarters are often cramped and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, Maggie finds enjoyment in spending her weekends touring country estates near London. One day she encounters Montclair, a famous estate rumored to be the inspiration for Jane Austen's Pemberley and she learns that many people believe the couple that lived there were the models for Jane Austen's characters of Elizabeth and Darcy. After touring the house Maggie decides to discover for herself if there is any validity to this rumor and embarks upon her own “Pride and Prejudice Project.”

Maggie is introduced to Beth and Jim Crowell, a couple who is connected to and is very knowledgeable about the Lacey family. This lovely and friendly couple begin to care for Maggie as a daughter and become a surrogate family for her while she is away from home. I greatly enjoyed Maggie's relationship with this kind and dear couple; they... shared the story of their own loving, yet at times unhappy and troubled marriage.

There are two men in Maggie's life during her time in England: Rob McAllister, who served in WWII as a navigator on a B-17 bomber and Michael Crowell, son of Beth and Jim, who serves in the RAF. One of these men is reserved, emotionally scarred, and has a commitment problem. The other is flirtatious, charming, and already in a relationship... I took pleasure in this love triangle and at times couldn't decide who I wanted Maggie to be with; Ms. Simonsen created a very captivating and heartrending romance.

How I enjoyed this unique and inventive tale by Mary Lydon Simonsen! It is a serious story and one that is leisurely and lovingly told. I greatly appreciated Ms. Simonsen's attention to detail and her impeccable research and representation of life post World War II. One of my favorite aspects of this novel was how well it portrayed the challenges of living during a war and how it effects and changes the lives of so many for such a long time. In addition, I enjoyed the various documents, diary entries, and letters interspersed throughout the story. These documents, to and from the Laceys, were what Maggie was researching to determine if the Laceys were the real Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I loved hearing the voices and thoughts of these characters through their letters and I found it quite amusing that Anne de Bough would serve as a confidante and faithful correspondent to Mr. Darcy! While these letters and diary entries were insightful and interesting, I would have loved for the story of Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey to be a little more imaginative and original (especially the proposal scenes).

I highly recommend “Searching For Pemberley” for readers who want a break from reading light-hearted and fluffy novels and are interested in a mature and serious tale of three love stories interwoven with the tragedies of war and the discovery of a true “Pride and Prejudice” romance. I dearly hope to see more works from Mary Lydon Simonsen in print soon!

My Victorian Books: On a trip to England, after World War II, an American woman, Maggie James, sets out to investigate a rumor concerning Jane Austen's writing of literature's famous Pride and Prejudice. The history of Pemberley begins to open as she meets the residents of a beautiful stately mansion in the countryside. Was this the actual home of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy? Through reading a series of old documents, Maggie begins to unravel the history and personalities behind one of the most beloved romances in literature.The author's writing flows with ease from page to page, making it an easy, fast read. It's a story that brings new insight, meaning, and possibilities to an old favorite that is sure to fascinate Austen fans.

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