My last book of 2011 (and first book of 2012) was Mary Lydon Simonsen’s Searching for Pemberley. Set in the 1940’s post-WWII London, we dive head first into the world of Maggie Joyce’s life as an American in Europe as part of the Army Exchange Service. Her position kept her away from her family in Minooka, PA for two years, during which time she ended up visiting Derbyshire/Montclair in England which was rumored as the Pemberley of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. Maggie had a deep love for the novel and was completely intrigued with the “could-be’s” of the manor. Could this be the site where Mr. Darcy professed his love to Elizabeth Bennet? Could this be the place where they made their lives?
As the reader gets deeper into the novel, you’re brought in and out of Pride and Prejudice and the similarities to Derbyshire/Montclair’s Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey to Pemberley’s Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. It helps that Maggie becomes very close to heirs of the Lacey clan in Jack and his wife Beth, who is directly related to Elizabeth Garrison. There are some twists and turns as Maggie is involved in a little love triangle on her hunt for the connect of Austen’s novel to the Derbyshire/Montclair manor. Torn between an American fighter pilot and the English son of her beloved friend Beth, does Maggie return to America to be reunited with her family after 2 years abroad or does she stay in England with Michael (Beth’s son) to figure out the mystery of Pride and Prejudice?
It’s a pretty good story. I like to kinda fall back in time sometimes and this novel really puts the reader right there in post-WWII. Some of the parts of the novel are hard to get through if you’re not a history buff (a lot of technical analogies and references) but if you can focus on the story of Maggie, you’ll do just fine.