A Jane Austen Reimagining

The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Summary from GoodReads:

A summer house party turns into a whodunit when Mr. Wickham, one of literature’s most notorious villains, meets a sudden and suspicious end in this mystery featuring Jane Austen’s leading literary characters.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. The unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.

Confession:

As much as I enjoyed reading this lovely little homage to Ms. Austen’s books, I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was a true fan of her work. In all honesty I think I have only ever read Pride and Prejudice and maybe Sense and Sensibility, but I am not really sure about that. I say this because except for two new addition, all of the characters in this book are from the various novels written by Jane Austen.

My main problem, and this is totally on me, was that there were too many characters and I had a really hard time keeping them apart and their backstories as well. Except for the Darcy’s and Mr. Wickham, of course. Two of the couple’s especially had me totally muddling them together, Colonel Brandon and his wife Marianne and Captain Wentworth and his wife Anne. These two couples also didn’t feel as fleshed out as the other characters in the story, but again if I was more familiar with the sources I might have known them better.

The two new additions to the story were my favorites, Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney. They are the children of other characters and they were such a fun pair. I loved Jonathan and how he perceived the world. He is definitely on the spectrum, although they of course didn’t have that figured out back then, so people just find him odd. His parents have sheltered him some, but he has managed to navigate the world around him. Juliet, bless her, accepts his issues without question and with a great deal of understanding. She is very bright and not afraid to speak up when it is needed. Together they are the ones who try to figure out what happened to Wickham.

The mystery of who killed Mr. Wickham was very well done. Everyone involved had a very good motive to want to see him dead, and I didn’t have clue who the guilty party was until it was revealed. Unfortunately Wickham had not changed his ways in the years since we first meet him in Pride and Prejudice and I’m sorry to say that his murder was well deserved. Lots of nice twists and of course red herring galore muddle things up enough that you will be guessing who the real murderer is up until the end.

Even with the issues I had with this book, I really did enjoy it. It is beautifully written and in at least the case of the Darcy’s a nice look at what these character’s lives might have been like after their stories were done. If you like Jane Austen’s books you will like this story. If you are a fan, then you will probably love it.

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