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Pride and Perjury by Alice McVeigh


Hello everyone!


Today’s book is a little different than the other books I’ve reviewed. This book is a collection of short stories inspired by the works of Jane Austen. Eight stories take place within Pride and Prejudice and its characters, two take place within Emma, and the last story overlaps both novels with Emma being the stronger influence. I love Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book so I was really looking forward to these stories. For this post I’m going to break the post into the summaries of the 12 stories and then my thoughts on the collection as a whole. Thank you to Warleigh Hall Press | Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book. This post may include spoilers. 


Let's get into it.


Here are the quick facts:

eBook

Publishers: Warleigh Hall Press | Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles

Publishing Date: May 30, 2024

Genre: Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction | Women's Fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars

325 pages  



The Housekeeper’s Tale 

This is the first story of the collection and it is set from the view point of Mrs. Hill, one of the staff members of Longbourn. The story follows the events of P&P while also creating a backstory of the members of the staff. Some of the other characters include James, the footman, and Mr. Spencer, the new butler. 


One Good Sonnet

In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet mentions that a young man had fallen in love with Jane when she was 15 and they were sure he was going to propose, however he did not. But in the conversation Mrs. Bennet mentions that he was so in love with Jane that he wrote poetry about her, which Lizzy makes fun of. This short story is about the man, Paul Perkin, and the poetry he wrote about Jane. It is told through Perkin’s own writings in his diary and offers his viewpoint on his courting of Jane, which is spliced with poems he writes about her. 


Valentine’s Day at the Bennets’

Lydia and Kitty are lamenting about the fact that they have never received valentines so they decide to scheme their way into receiving some from officers, including Mr. Wickham. However, this leads to a comedy of errors buy Mr. Thompson, another man in town whom the girls are trying to trick into giving them cards. 


Captivating Mr. Darcy

This story is another viewpoint of an original character during the events of the novel. For this story we’re reading Caroline Bingley’s diary entries about her time at Netherfield Park with Charles and Mr. Darcy as well as their time in London during the middle of the novel. This story creates a more well rounded Caroline who feels less like a “mean girl” and more like a society girl who expects Darcy to fall in love with her the way she loves him. 


All Hallow’s Eve at the Bennets’

This story focuses on the Bennet girls and the old wives tales they follow to predict their love lives. Kitty and Lydia have decided to look into a mirror at midnight on All Hallow’s Eve to see if the mirror will show their true loves. Jane and Lizzy, while discussing Kitty and Lydia’s mirror plan, discuss Jane’s relationship with Bingley and Lizzy decides to roast two hazelnuts over the fire. The nuts are carved with Jane and Bingley’s initials and if they roast and don’t jump apart it means they will be happily in love. 


The Bennet Girl’s Easter Bonnet

This story is set during Lizzy’s trip to visit Charlotte and Collins over Easter. The story flips back and forth between Lizzy and Kitty and Lydia who are bored at Longbourn. 


A Heliotrope Ribbon

This story centers around Wickham and Lydia’s time in Brighton and the events that lead to their elopement. While staying with the Foresters, Lydia uses her time to flirt and entertain herself with the militia who is stationed there. This crowd includes Wickham who Lydia is obsessed with. While in Brighton, Wickham is attempting to seduce a wealthy widow to ensure a large fortune for himself and clear some of his debts. 


Lady Catherine’s Regrets 

This story is told from Lady Catherine’s perspective as she learns of the rumor of Lizzy and Darcy’s engagement. While it includes some of the events of the novel, it also includes the conversation she has with Darcy about the rumor and how he is “promised” to her daughter Ann.  


Of Tacts and Tactics 

Alice McVeigh’s other works in this series are reimaginings of Jane Austen’s characters, like Darcy and Harriet Smith from Emma. Her first novel however is based on Lady Susan, Austen’s incomplete manuscript. According to the note before this story, it is meant to act as a prequel to that novel. In this story, which takes place after the events of P&P, Anne de Bourgh has still not married but is “closer to 30 than 20”. Because of this Lady Catherine is scheming to get her a husband, all the while, Anne is also taking steps to secure herself a husband, Lord Cuthbert.


Mary Rose 

This is the first of the Emma inspired short stories in this collection. Knightley finds a diary he kept in his youth and reflects on the first woman he ever loved, Mary Rose. Mary Rose was a young woman who returned to Donwell Abbey when Knightley was in his early 20s. He falls madly in love with her and does everything he can to be with her. However, the diary reveals a secret that could ruin his life and Emma’s happiness. 


A Highbury Christmas 

This story is based on a small character from Emma named Mr. Perry. Mr. Perry is the apothecary in town who loves to gossip with his wife. The story primarily focuses on Perry’s gossiping tendencies and offers another viewpoint during Christmas time in Emma, when Elton is “courting” Emma. 


Pride and Perjury 

This the titular short story and its a mix of characters from Pride and Prejudice and Emma. The main character is Elton who flees to Bath after Emma rejects his proposal. While there he decides to court as many women as possible in hopes of finding a wife and besting Emma. The two women he courts are Miss Hawkins, whose brother in law is desperately trying to get rid of her, and Caroline Bingley.



I really enjoyed these stories, particularly Mary Rose and One Good Sonnet. I liked that some of the stories were from the viewpoint of minor characters who were affected by the actions of the main characters in the stories. I have always enjoyed retellings, The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow and Ariadne by Jennifer Saint are two of my favorites, and I really enjoyed this collection. The writing style matches that of Austen and other classic books, so at first it was hard to get into the swing of the style but as I read each story it became easier. A couple of the stories did feel like filler stories and while they were cute I wouldn’t have missed them if they were cut. I also enjoyed how the stories incorporated a large amount of characters and it wasn’t just the same handful used over and over. This is just being particular, but the collection is called Pride and Perjury: Twelve Short Stories inspired by Pride and Prejudice but not all of the stories are inspired by Pride and Prejudice which I feel like I could have overlooked if the titular short story wasn’t influenced by Emma. 


Pride and Perjury: Twelve Short Stories inspired by Pride and Prejudice is out today, May 30th. Thank you again to Warleigh Hall Press | Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book.


Until next time!


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