Searching for Pemberley

( 31 )

Overview

"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 ...

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Overview

"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."
Roundtable Reviews

"A precious jewel of a novel with a strong love story and page-turning mystery. Absorbing, amusing, and very cleverly written."
The Searcher

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers 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. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402224393
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Pages: 473
  • Sales rank: 1,057,849
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary 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.
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Read an Excerpt

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

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1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Searching for Pemberley

    Such an interesting novel -- As someone that was fan of history (especially the WWII era) I found this a delightful read. It delves into the possibility that Lizzie and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice were actually based on real people. It creates a background story of a family with the name of Lacey. Via diary entries and letters written by members of the family, the main character (Maggie) discovers eerie similarities between the Lacey and Darcy families. All the while she is discovering herself and love as well, with the help of a Lacey family member. The only thing I had a complaining about with this novel was all of the names and trying to follow who was who in the Lacey family. You're given a thousand members of Lizzie and Darcy's families and how they're all interconnected that it became a bit overwhelming at times. Other than that I found Maggie's story to be very interesting. She's an American living oversees and working for the military during the end of WWII. If you like history AND pride and prejudice I would suggest giving this novel a shot.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Should be a movie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you're a Jane Austen fan or like World War II novels, this book would fit BOTH of that criteria.
    I really enjoyed how the book moved back in forth from Austen's day to the days and years following WWII. The names got a bit confusing but the author helped out by providing a glossary of names. Very entertaining and I do think it would be a great movie! Nice, long book (355 pages) as well

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2012

    Good

    It was okay. The story was going through P&P and comparing the characters Darcy and Elizabeth to the Will Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison. Although I found those facts interesting, I would have preferred more on Maggie the American and her American boyfriend and Michael. It would have been nice to see what Michael was thinking. I would not read this book again

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful!!!!!!!!!!

    This book made me truly think I'd found Pemberley. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is so beautiful. This book made us feel it. Five stars all across the board.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    It Takes You Back!

    Great read for any Darcy/Pride and Prejudice fan. Intertwining the theory of who were the people behind the characters with a relatively recent historical event in international history, the characters of both the 19th and 20th centuries come alive and seemingly jump off the pages. The ending winds around to the happy ending the reader hopes for with a satisfying solution.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2009

    A Trio of Love Stories

    This is the story of a young American, Maggie Joyce, who is working in London right after WWII, where things are still very difficult for the British. After hearing that her favorite characters, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, may be based on real people, she goes to a country manor house to find out. She is introduced to a couple, Beth and Jack Crowell, who are connected to the estate and who know if these stories are true. In addition to Darcy and Elizabeth's love story are those of the Crowells, who fell in love in WWI, and Maggie, who has two love interests. It's obvious that a lot of research went into writing this novel--about Regency England and WWI and WWII, but Simonsen manages to weave the three different story lines together for a very interesting read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2012

    I love Austen, I love WWII, so I found the premise of this novel

    I love Austen, I love WWII, so I found the premise of this novel to be facinating. It was a fun book to read. The ideas that Darcy and Co were real people is a really interesting way of looking at it and then to see what *might* have happened into the future of that great family. It's especially fun if you love family history like I do!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Not at all worth it....

    Lacked eveything that would normally suck me in to a ggod read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Great read for Austen fan!

    Searching for Pemberley takes the reader to two different eras of post WWII and early 19th century. As the narrator discovers the possible estate of Pride and Prejudice's Darcy family, the connections of the people to Austen's time and the resolution of her own feelings, Ms. Simonsen weaves the two love stories seamlessly so that you become interested in the outcome of each heroine.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Not what I expected from the cover!

    The cover is mis-leading! I forgot that is book is a factional history of the Darcy/Bingley family homes and their decendents. Set after WWII, with the narration of an American woman, working for the US Government in Europe and England, looking for the connection within JA and the Darcy/Bingley familes and their homes. Within her time in England she falls in love with two men (American GI and English officer) and has to make the decision of her future love life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2011

    Review

    Awesome book. #5 on my books to read list!

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    Just ok

    I love Jane Austen, but this book was a bit of a disapointment. Don't be expecting too much about Pride and Prejudice.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    JANE AUSTEN IN CONTEMPORARY VOICE

    Searching For Pemberley is a story within a story. It's a love story and a mystery. It's set in the past and the present (of the narrator). Mary Simonsen isn't just a great writer, she's a skillful navigator, taking us along on the journey she creates for her characters. We are rooting for all of them to find what they are seeking. I am not surprised at her exceptional writing talents. She comes out of the Sourcebooks writers ensemble who are making a name for themselves in producing wonderful Jane Austen stories. After I finished reading Searching For Pemberley, I looked for more books by Simonsen. I found The Perfect Bride For Mr. Darcy, which I devoured. I just ordered Anne Elliot, A New Beginning. I can't wait to learn her spin on Persuasion. I think Jane Austen has a contemporary face; it's Mary Simonsen!

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    Posted March 2, 2011

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    Posted February 1, 2011

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    Posted January 13, 2012

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    Posted June 23, 2010

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    Posted September 14, 2010

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    Posted January 24, 2012

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    Posted June 7, 2011

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews

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