Review: Sharon Lathan’s Sequel That’s Not

Rarely do I feel the need to slam another writer’s book.  Generally, I consider that approach to criticism very rude.  There is almost always something redeeming, just as there is almost always something to criticize.  No work of art is perfect.

But Sharon Lathan’s novel, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, is not a work of art.  It is a commercial endeavor that borrows the credibility of someone else’s art, and then distorts it.  Even so, this criticism, while harsh, will not be a complete slam.

First, I will readily admit, that I usually get drawn to classics after seeing a contemporary interpretation of the story.  In that light, I watched Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in Pride and Prejudice, fell in love with the story, and then read Jane Austen’s book!

By her own account in the foreword, which was not made clear in the Amazon product description, Sharon Lathan wrote her self-described “fan fiction” novel based on the movie; while she has since “read the novel and seen a few of the previous adaptations,” her loyalty remained with the movie that captured her interest.

But even so, her loyalty is something to be questioned.  In depicting her characters, Lathan followed the plot points from the movie, having her characters relive memories of those scenes in her novel.  But the Lizzy and Mr. Darcy Lathan describes do not behave as the characters in the movie; they certainly do not behave as the characters created by Jane Austen would have done.  Instead, Lathan’s greatest loyalty seems to be to her own lust and she modified the characters to suit her own desires.

If Lathan had taken the trouble to create her own characters to people the sexy, “trashy” romance novel she wanted to write, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.  But she didn’t.  She markets her novel with these words:  “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continues…”  The title of her first book is Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  So, she profits from Jane Austen’s name, claims the names of her characters as her own, but deviates from the characters Jane Austen created so dramatically that they are unrecognizable.

Now, I’ll readily admit the book is well-written, at least in the sense that it achieves the purpose of titillating readers.  Had it been advertised as an independent work and marketed in the same vein as a Harlequin novel, then I’d have no problem with it.  I also wouldn’t have wasted my money on it, as I have no interest in pornographic novels.  I prefer novels with plot; this novel had none.  I prefer novels that rely on character development to show us something profound; the most profound thing about this novel was the insight it could offer to the peculiar sexual fantasies of a select group of women.

But the book’s ability to titillate readers in cheap fashion is hardly redeeming, considering the book is marketed as something quite different.  Jane Austen’s work was romantic, not pornographic.  Jane Austen had a point, commenting on British culture in a particular time-period.  Lathan used the name of Jane Austen and she used Austen’s characters, and then she betrayed Austen and her characters by cheapened the very real drama Austen created with lusty, shallow copies.  This is, in my opinion, the worst kind of plagiarism, though it is entirely legal; Lathan stole from the work of a better artist, and then dishonestly and perversely re-envisioned what she stole without loyalty or consideration for the original work of art.  She even dared to use Ms. Austen’s name to market her book.  This makes it commercialism of the worst possible form.

Sharon Lathan could have written a pornographic novel, using the movie as her inspiration without actually stealing from it, and left it at that.  Instead, she used something held in high esteem, something that has stood the test of time, and she tainted it for personal gratification and profit.  By claiming Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy is a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Sharon Lathan has made a disgusting farce of Austen’s work.

About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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6 Responses to Review: Sharon Lathan’s Sequel That’s Not

  1. Evelyn says:

    I agree entirely. I am absolutely IN LOVE with Pride and Prejudice, the book and the movie. I have read the book so many times that I have had to purchase several copies from wearing out the binding. I was deeply offended for Jane Austen that this author claims to be continuing her story, but then bases her novel entirely from the movie and not Austen’s book at all. I found it overly, and almost sickeningly sexual with hardly any plot extending beyond their bedroom activities. I have read the rest of the novels due to my inability to stop reading a series once I start, whether I like them or not, and found them to worsen with each book. The ridiculousness of the perils they face in each novel just further offends Austen’s original characters that she created. In the most recent installment, Wickham kidnaps Elizabeth and her son in an attempt at revenge against Darcy. I know that Wickham is a scoundrel, but it’s just insulting to the character that Austen created to take it so far as that. I do not recommend this series to anyone who possesses any respect for Jane Austen and her amazing work. I do however recommend any of Austen’s other brilliant novels, with Sense and Sensibility and Emma being my other favorites to read over and over again.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Evelyn, I usually continue with a series once I start it, too; but I had to force myself to just finish this book. I won’t be spending any more money on this series or anything else by this author.

    Though, I must say it is rather impressive to get a character from eloping with an overly flurtatious girl to kidnapping.

  3. DanaT says:

    I disagree with you all. I LOVED Pride and Prejudice and have fallen in love with Lathan’s works. I eagerly await the release of her 8th novel. There are many interpretations of “sequels” out there and I’m sure there is a strain for different preferences however of the ones that I have experienced Lathan’s writing sucked me in and I can’t put the books down. There is passion and intrigue, conflict and suspense.. the way she has developed the characters and evolved the story line to enhance and continue the wonder that began it all is awesome.

    I truly do believe that everyone is entitled to their opinions and that every person has different attractions to what they read and how they interpret things. That’s what makes us human and makes life interesting. You may not enjoy her work but at the very least I would hope you can respect and admire the work that has gone into the books she has so diligently written.

  4. Stephanie says:

    As I wrote, I think the book was well-written for a pulp romance novel, but that is as far as my “respect and admiration” goes. The scenes were evocative and she made a good use of detail to establish place and character motivation. But, that falls far short of “diligence” in writing, in my opinion. The book wasn’t plotted as a whole novel, which was disappointing. Instead, each chapter was a separate unit, put together to create a linear series of events. In that sense, it wasn’t even a story, but a series of vignettes. Nor was it driven by the characters whose names she used. I can’t imagine what was “diligent” about the work, unless it was a diligent exploration of her own sexual fantasies.

  5. Pingback: Prompt 6: Reach-Out Reviewing | Caressing the Muse

  6. Pingback: Review: Elantris - Stephanie Allen Crist

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