Gone With the Wind? Love. Westerns. Love (for the most part). All things Pride and Prejudice. REALLY love. Somehow, Jack Caldwell's novel Pemberley Ranch managed to capture all three of these elements in the pages of one book for a great, fun read!
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Bennet family has just moved from Ohio to the town of Rosings, Texas, set on creating a fresh start. But their daughter Beth still prefers the familiarity of Ohio to the plains of Texas-that is, until she encounters Will Darcy, the reclusive owner of Pemberley Ranch. Will and Beth are instantly smitten, but pride, prejudice, and a gang of villains determined to take over Rosings threaten to keep them apart. This fresh idea in the world of Jane Austen retellings brings together the world of Pride and Prejudice with the struggles of the antebellum South."
Review: Can I just say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and call it good? There are books that you just have too much fun reading, and that's it! Honestly though, I think I wasn't expecting to be charmed by a western sort of retelling of Pride and Prejudice, regardless of how much I love the book. Funny thing was, I really was charmed. Elizabeth, as Beth Bennet, was saucy and able to stand up for herself. Mr. Darcy, or Will in this case, found Beth's sauciness unabashedly charming. Other minor characters from P&P are also present in the novel, along with a few from Austen's other novels. In fact, I laughed whenever the author threw in these alternate characters from novels such as Emma, because you wouldn't notice if you weren't a true fan of Austen's works. Captain Wentworth actually seemed more dastardly than he did in P&P, as he had been a cruel taskmaster during the Civil War who had abused Rebel soldiers that were imprisoned. He also had his thumb on every double-crossing land deal around in our Rosings, Texas. In short, had he grown a little waxy moustache that he could have twisted the ends of while he spoke, I wouldn't have been surprised!
The story was fun to follow and just different enough to keep you on your toes. Had it been more exact in the way it kept to the original tale, it might have been boring, but I didn't think this was boring at all. There are a couple of "swimming hole" scenes that would leave a reader from Austen's day scandalized and blushing, but they seem a little funny under these hot Texas, western conditions. Yes, the novel still showed restraint, but threw in a lot more western-brand scandal and language. I thoroughly enjoyed Pemberley Ranch, and was so thankful to Jack Caldwell for entertaining me enough to drag me away from the stacks of essays I was laboring through at the time! I'm just sad now that I didn't take Sourcebooks up on this great offer to read this one sooner, since it turned out to be a great time.