Let me start with explaining the title [of the review]. In this book -The Red Chrysanthemum by Linda Beutler- the author puts my(/our) favourite characters in the best environment: Lambton and Pemberley. Most of the plot takes place there. I liked it very much that not only Lizzy, Darcy, Bingley, the Gardiners are there, but also Georgiana and most importantly, one of my favourite supporting character: Mrs Reynolds. There’s a lot of interactions between Darcy and Bingley, and it was good to see how Bingley’s confidence and character improved. I also liked that Caroline Bingley doesn’t play any significant part, Mrs Hurst turned out to be a pleasant lady by the end of the story, and that bastard Wickham is however appears for a bit, but he gets what he deserves.
As for the book’s title, I have to say from the word chrysanthemum Anne Shirley pops into my mind. There is a scene in the film when Mr Phillips asks Miss Andrews to spell chrysanthemum, but she terribly fails, then he asks Gilbert who missed one letter, finally Anne managed to spell it correctly and wins over Gil. Thanks to the book I can also spell it by now.
In the end of every chapter there is a skectch of a flower with the name and the meaning and it adds a lot to the chapters and the plot. I don’t know if there is a word in English (besides euphemism) when someone talks about something in a nice way without saying what she really wants. Well, in Hungarian besides euphemism we call it ‘flower language’ and when we say ‘don’t talk in the language of flower’ we mean just ‘get to the point’. In The Red Chrysanthemum Lizzy and Darcy literally talk in ‘flower language’ and the ‘language of flower’.
At one point in the book Mr Darcy says “This is not a romance novel, Georgie” – I should say it’s bloody hilarious! One could never come up with a better line in a JA fan fiction book. Let’s take the most famous novel with the most famous character: the ultimate gentleman, every woman’s ideal man, THE MR DARCY and put this line into his mouth. Very surreal but in a funny and witty way. Well done!
When it comes to a Pride and Prejudice variation, I’m always expecting letters. There are lots of letters in P&P, and they are life- or rather plot changing. In The Red Chrysanthemum we can find lots of letters and they are equally well written. True to the character who writes them and true to the character’s style. Well done, again!
My favourite sentence is from Charlotte Lucas, and her statement is about Mr. Collins. What she says about him is believable, because it’s faithful to his character, but the last part of the sentence makes him likeable(?).
At the last part of the book there’s some adult content, but that’s after Lizzy and Darcy are married. I’m not eager to read these sort of stuff in JA variations but there was a funny moment in these scenes where Elizabeth mentioning Charlotte and Mr Collins’s married life just moments before her’s starts. Surreal, but real.
The book is very well edited, the cover is very pretty and experssive.
The book was released in 2013, but I’ve read it only now. Better later than never.
I’ve tried not to tell a lot about the plot, but I hope you can still enjoy the review, in spite of the fact that it’s focusing on intertextuality.