Joan Wendland peppers her version of Jane Austen's original Pride and Prejudice with clockwork servants, dirigibles, and an utterly suitable surprise twist.
Mr. Darcy: Cogs Maketh the Man by Joan I. Wendland
Publisher: Joan Wendland, 2018
Genre: Jane Austen fan fiction/steampunk
“Who hasn’t read Pride and Prejudice and said to themselves – that was a great read, but it would be even better with air ships and clockwork servants! So buckle up for this steampunk reimagining of the Jane Austen classic as told from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.”From the book description on Goodreads
What I thought about Mr. Darcy: Cogs Maketh the Man
I adore reading Jane Austen fan fiction. I’ve read so many of them that I can’t remember the last time one of them surprised me with a plot twist. I don’t mind. Part of the comfort of this hobby is visiting old friends in familiar places.
Joan Wendland spiced her retelling of Pride and Prejudice by reworking the story from Darcy’s point of view and by transplanting the familiar world of Longbourne and Pemberley into an alternate steampunk universe. Wickham’s regiment is still based in Meryton, but it has airships. Darcy is still rich, but his fortune comes at least in part from the sale of clockwork servants.
While she preserved the basic parameters of Austen’s plot as far as the basic meetings, shunnings, and marriages between the characters go, Wendland nevertheless managed to write a plot twist that I did not see coming. I can’t remember the last time anyone surprised me like that in a Jane Austen retelling. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
A Sampling of Quotes
Whenever I encounter a new-to-me writer, I like to dip in to the book here and there to see if it’s written in a style I’ll enjoy. Here’s a spoiler-free sampling of Wendland’s writing from two points in her book, in case you like to do the same.
The first quote comes from the beginning of Chapter Two. The Bingleys and Darcy are settled at Netherfield. Having survived their first assembly, Darcy is now being subjected to one weary invitation after another as all of the parents in the local neighborhood do their best to entice one of the two wealthy bachelors to take an unmarried daughter off their hands.
“If it be true that women take a great deal of meetings to become acquainted, then Bingley’s sisters could not have asked for a more congenial set of neighbors. There were scores of invitations and Bingley could not be persuaded to turn any of them down. Darcy hardly knew why Caroline had engaged a kitchen staff, for they were forever dining out.”from Mr. Darcy: Cogs Maketh the Man by Joan I. Wendland, Chapter Two
The second excerpt comes from Chapter 10. Darcy has just finished making his first, ill-fated proposal to Elizabeth. Riding back to Pemberley he wallows in his rejection.
“Darcy made the final leg of his journey with nothing but his own dismal thoughts for company.
“‘You possess the depth of feeling of a clockwork!’
“Elizabeth’s words chased themselves around his mind like a dog enamored of his own tail. In truth these words stung not only for the rejection they held. He suffered doubly because Elizabeth was correct. If marriage had been his mission, he had surely gone about it in the worst possible fashion.”from Mr. Darcy: Cogs Maketh the Man by Joan I. Wendland, Chapter Ten
Who would enjoy this book?
- Readers who enjoy reading Jane Austen fan fiction
- Review: Lady Catherine’s Necklace by Joan Aiken (BostonWriters)
- Review: Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (BostonWriters)
- Review: Darcy Swipes Left by Courtney Carbone (BostonWriters)
- Joan Wendland’s website: The Zoo Illuminati
Disclosure: I follow Joan I. Wendland on Twitter, and she and I participated in a CampNaNo writing group together in 2019.