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"History, romance, and even a little mystery all combined in one wonderful book."
Best Sellers World, Five Star Review
Maggie went in search of a love s...
"History, romance, and even a little mystery all combined in one wonderful book."
Best Sellers World, Five Star Review
Maggie went in search of a love story, but she never expected to find her own…
Desperate to escape her life in a small Pennsylvania mining town, Maggie Joyce accepts a job in post-World War II London, hoping to find adventure. While touring Derbyshire, she stumbles upon the stately Montclair, rumored by locals to be the inspiration for Pemberley, the centerpiece of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.
Determined to discover the truth behind the rumors, Maggie embarks on a journey through the letters and journals of Montclair’s former owners, the Lacey family, searching for signs of Darcy and Elizabeth.
But when the search introduces her to both a dashing American pilot and a handsome descendant of the "Darcy" line, Maggie must decide how her own love story will end
PRAISE FOR SEARCHING FOR PEMBERLEY:
"A shining addition to the world of historical fiction."
Curled Up With A Good Book
"A resounding success on all levels."
"A precious jewel of a novel with a strong love story and page-turning mystery. Absorbing, amusing, and very cleverly written."
About the Author
Mary Lydon Lydon SimonsenMary Lydon Simonsen is the author of two Regency Austen re-imaginings, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy and A Wife for Mr. Darcy, and a Jane Austen historical romance, Searching for Pemberley, which was acclaimed by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and RT Book Reviews. She is well loved and widely followed on all the Jane Austen fanfic sites, with tens of thousands of hits and hundreds of reviews whenever she posts. The author lives in Arizona.
Excerpt from Chapter 1
My hometown is little more than a bump in the road between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in the hard-coal country of eastern Pennsylvania. At the time o...
Excerpt from Chapter 1
My hometown is little more than a bump in the road between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in the hard-coal country of eastern Pennsylvania. At the time of the 1929 stock market crash inaugurating the Great Depression, Minooka had already been in its own depression for five years. The lack of work meant that most of the town's young people were reading want ads for jobs in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington.
I was in high school in December 1940 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his famous "Arsenal of Democracy" radio address to the nation. In that speech, the president committed the industrial might of the United States to defeating fascism in Europe. Because of that commitment, factories that had been idled during the Depression were now running three shifts in an attempt to supply Great Britain with the planes, tanks, artillery, and other war materiel needed to defeat Nazi Germany. It seemed as if every company in America was hiring, and the biggest employer of them all was the United States government.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war, what had been a steady stream of job seekers to the nation's capital became a deluge. After graduating from business college in Scranton in June 1944, I headed to Washington to join my two older sisters who had been working in the District since early 1941. Without any experience, I was hired as a clerk typist with the Treasury Department for the princely sum of $1,440 a year. With three paychecks coming in, my sisters and I were able to rent an apartment in a row house near Dupont Circle.
On June 6, 1944, the long-awaited invasion of France had begun, and with the news of the successful landings came the realization that the Allies would win. Finally, on May 8, 1945, America and the world learned that the Germans had officially surrendered. After nearly six years of bloodshed, the war in Europe was over. Now, all resources were being diverted to the Pacific and the defeat of the Empire of Japan.
In August 1945, when the newspapers reported that a B-29 bomber, the "Enola Gay," had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, no one understood exactly what an atomic bomb was. Then another was dropped on Nagasaki with casualties reported as being in the tens of thousands from just one bomb. Suddenly, the possibility that the fighting might soon end was very real. On a personal level, this meant I might soon be unemployed. I need not have worried; my job was never in jeopardy. But with the war over, both of my sisters had decided to return to Minooka, which meant I would have to find a place to live. Although I posted a notice on the bulletin board in the lunchroom advertising for a room or roommate, my heart wasn't in it. I was ready for a change, and memories of the heat and humidity of a Washington summer provided the motivation.
A co-worker mentioned that the Army Exchange Service, the agency responsible for providing goods and services to American service personnel, was hiring for positions in Germany because of the large number of servicemen who were stationed in the American occupation zone. I was not ready to go back home, but if avoiding a return to my hometown meant going to Germany, I didn't see how that was much of an improvement.
The war in Europe had been over for more than a year, but the newspapers were full of stories and pictures of a defeated Germany with many cities pounded into powder. The aerial bombing and the fighting on the ground had left many of the structures without windows or walls and with their interiors exposed to passersby. Their occupants, often hungry children, looked out at the photographer with faces full of want and despair. I was depressed from reading about it; how would I feel if I actually lived there?
Notwithstanding all the drawbacks, I went on an interview with the Army Exchange Service. Because AES was so short staffed in Germany, the personnel manager told me that if I agreed to a year's employment in Frankfurt, he would try to get me six months in London. Two weeks later, I sailed for Hamburg and arrived in the former Third Reich in August 1946. As the train pulled into the Frankfurt station, I was met by a scene straight out of Dante's Inferno. A huge black hulk of twisted metal was all that was left of the once grand railway station. My first inclination was to get the hell out of Dodge, but instead, I took the bus to the Rhein-Main Air Base, my home for the next year.
Although my co-workers insisted that conditions in Frankfurt had improved since that first year after the war's end, I found it hard to believe when I looked on city block after city block of bombed buildings and piles of rubble or passed Germans on the street who walked with hunched shoulders and downcast eyes. When winter came, it proved to be one of the most brutally cold winters Europe had ever experienced. Rivers were choked with ice, canals froze, rail travel was curtailed, and the coal shortages caused terrible hardships for the Germans. Initially, there was little sympathy for our former enemies, and all contact with the general German population was forbidden. However, by the time I arrived, the non-fraternization policy was a thing of the past, and American servicemen were lining up at military personnel offices to apply for permission to marry German nationals.
After working in Frankfurt for one year, my transfer to London was approved, but because of a reduction in the number of military personnel stationed in Britain, there was no guarantee as to the length of my employment. I was so eager to leave Germany that I agreed and arrived in time to experience late summer in London. Even though the city still showed the extensive damage caused by German bombs, I was more than happy to be in an English-speaking country. I immediately liked England and the English. They were not demonstrative, but in small ways, they showed that they appreciated all the United States had done to help them defeat Germany and Japan.
Every weekend I became a typical American tourist. Riding London's red double-decker buses, I visited the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, and all the other popular tourist sites that made London a cultural jewel. I stood in line at the British Museum to see the Elgin Marbles. The friezes from the Parthenon were being displayed for the first time since the beginning of the war when they had been packed up and stored in the Aldwych Piccadilly Underground to keep them safe from German bombs.
After weeks of touring London, I wanted to get out into the countryside, so I asked for suggestions from the girls in my office building who had moved to London from all over the British Isles. As a devoted fan of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, I especially wanted to know more about Hertfordshire and Derbyshire, the major settings for the story. Pamela, a Derbyshire native, was also a fan of the book and told me that I should find out if "Montclair," the house where the Darcys had lived, was open to visitors. At first I thought she was "having me on," but then I realized that she was perfectly serious.
It seems like Maggie have found the family which inspired the story of Pride and Prejudice. There are journals, letters, and oral history to prove it. What works for me in this book is the three love story that’s cleverly intertwined. There’s the original couple who inspired Jane, then there’s the current descendant, and then there’s Maggie’s love story. There’s Rob, an American pilot, and then there’s Michael, a descendant of the Darcy line.
I get a little glimpse of what is was like for pilots during the war. The narrative rang true. There’s also Beth and Jack’s love story, which I find very fascinating. It’s is an amazing book.
Searching For Pemberley, is different from any other Jane Austen "sequel" that Ive read. Its a love story, inside of a love story, inside of a love story. A facinating look into "Austen life" in the 1800s, and into life in Europe in the 1940s. 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 Austens 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!
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 Maggies 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 Maggies 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.
The only negative I have, is that in the beginning of the story, I was a bit confused between the characters from Austens story and the real life inspirations. Simonsen does provide background on Austens characters and who they are in real life, with some background in case you havent read the original P&P. I was still a little confused at times but it passed quickly.
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!!!
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. The story line, characters and subject are still intriguing, however as I mentioned in my first review, it is only the execution that could make this multi-layered story believable, entertaining and cohesive. 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. The narrative style is all about the characters telling and not showing how events and relationships unfolded. There is very little interactive dialogue. This is great for a fact based documentary, but tough for a historical love story. I usually prefer character driven plots, so once I accepted that this novel was not about getting into the characters head or their interactions, I quite enjoyed it. Like the epistolary novels of Jane Austen’s time, the style of Searching for Pemberley may be its greatest limitation.
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. (It might even motivate a few readers to read the original) To be quite candid, it was hard for me to fathom that the genius of Jane Austen needed any prompting to create a story. To countermand, I just imagined it as a “what if” story and it softened the sting.
Length: 7.75 in
Width: 5.75 in
Weight: 19.68 oz
Page Count: 496 pages