North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

 

North by Northanger (Or the Shades of Pemberley) [Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery #3] by Carrie Bebris

Thoughts Before Reviewing:

So this post is brought to you by JaneAustenRunsMyLife, my sister blog. I just took it and reworked it to focus on the mystery over Jane Austen. I’m not lazy, but as she has already done it, why not borrow it?

So it has been a while since we reviewed a Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery so quick review-

So in Pride and Prescience Mr. & Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy are roped into a paranormal mystery when Caroline Bingley gets married and starts acting strangely. Is she being possessed? Or is she being gaslighted?

Hmm…

Then in book two, Suspense and Sensibility, the Darcys are roped into another mystery when the young man, Henry Dashwood (Elinor and Marianne’s nephew), engaged to Elizabeth’s sister Kitty starts acting weird. Is he possessed by his great-grandfather’s spirit or just a rake?

Hmm…

In that book Elizabeth also discovers she is pregnant, which brings us to…

Plot Summary:

 

The Darcys are pleased at the news of their upcoming child, but at the same time Mr. Darcy is scared out of his mind as his mother died in childbirth. But childbirth isn’t what is foremost on Elizabeth’s mind. You see Elizabeth is sensitive to the supernatural and is convinced that Pemberley has a ghost, and not just any ghost…Lady Anne Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s mother.

Elizabeth doesn’t feel as if Anne is vindictive or angry, but feels her presence nonetheless. She has lived the year with everything exactly how it was, but has decided that the time has come to start doing things how she wants it. She decides to shift the writing desk from its corner so that she can look out the window. When she does a letter from Anne Darcy to Elizabeth falls out!

{An excerpt]

Pemberley

20 January 1796

Dear Mrs. Darcy,

Should this letter reach your eyes, it is because I no longer live to deliver its message in person. I know not who you are-what name you bore before taking that of Darcy. I know only that by addressing this letter to you, I write the woman who has wed my son. For that reason alone I entrust to you the stewardship of something most precious…I had at Fitzwilliam’s birth a…an heirloom from my own mother-I want it now, but it has become lost. If only I could find it, I would trust that I will be safely delivered. But I hid it too well, beyond my own reach. You-you must look if I cannot, for I want you to have it when…If you are my niece, my namesake Anne, know that I guarded myself from my sister, not from you-…Search for me…My daughter, the only one I may ever have, start with the knowledge that love conquers all. I am-

Your mother, 

Anne Darcy

This baits Elizabeth’s curiosity. What was the object? Why couldn’t Lady Anne find it? Where is it?

Treasure?

They visit Mr. Bingley and Jane and are headed home by way of Bath, to meet the famous Dr. Severn, the man Darcy wants to have assist Elizabeth in her birth. He supposedly is the best in the nation, and very hard to get. They also unfortunately run into Lady Catherine in Bath.

They also receive a note from a Captain Frederick Tilney:

Edgar’s Buildings

Bath, 6 October

Dear Mr. Darcy,

My discovery of your name in the Pump Room book prompts me to write. Though we are strangers to each other, I believe our families are acquainted. My late mother, Mrs. Victor Tilney, enjoyed the friendship of one Lady Ann Darcy, whom I believe to be your mother.

Though I understand Lady Anne has also passed away, I would take great pleasure in meeting her son. Unfortunately, my military duties obligate me to depart Bath this very day. However, I plan to return to my country home in Gloucestershire by 18 October, and shall remain there for some time. I would consider myself honored to receive you and Mrs. Darcy at Northanger Abbey as my guests for a se’nnight whenever you make your return to Derbyshire.

I hope your response names the date upon which I will enjoy the pleasure of your company. I am

Yours most sincerely,

Captain Fredrick Tilney

The Darcys are also intrigued and decide to go visit on their way home. They head to Gloucestershire but find it  and Northanger Abbey not as impressive as Catherine Morland did.

Bleh…

The weather is cold, gray, dismal, and stormy. The servants are strange and act like no servant they have ever known. They are given the late Mrs. Tilney’s rooms which haven’t been used in ages and there is jewelry and all her stuff in it. Their servants have disappeared and the housekeeper has no knowledge where they are, the food gross, their host never appears, the halls are cold and drafty, and the Darcys want to leave but are forced to stay the night.

After dinner, the housekeeper takes them to their host and the Darcy’s see a very bandaged, fat man, with only one eye and his mouth are exposed. Captain Tilney apologizes for not being able to greet them or sit at dinner. He has no qualms that the rooms are full of things and thoroughly questions grills them about Lady Anne, her friendship with Mrs. Tilney, and if they have any correspondence.

 

The Darcy’s are completely flummoxed as they didn’t even know of the friendship let alone bring anything with them.

Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves feeling extremely weirded out by everything and they decide to leave ASAP.

The next morning they leave, carefully maneuvering themselves out of any faux pas. They find their servants-who had taken ill (sounds like were slipped a Regency mickey). They stop for the night and then are come upon by a constable, as they were sent an anonymous note that the Darcy’s stole jewelry and riches from the Tilneys. They then are both arrested for theft.

WHAT!

What???!!!!!!!! But he’s Mr. Darcy??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know, right?

The constable searches Mr. Darcy’s cane and finds it opens up and reveals that it has the Tilney jewels in it.

Darcy tries to convince them it isn’t his cane but one that looks like it as his cane has an imperfection in the grain-this one does’t it is a replica, but they don’t believe him.

They then return to Northanger Abbey to speak to Captain Tilney about everything and when they reach the Abbey they see that Captain Tilney is not there but Mr. Henry Tilney. The Darcy’s want Captain Tilney to share what happened that night, but he can’t. He’s dead.

WHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT?????!!!!!!!!!

And that’s not all. Fredrick’s been dead for a while.

And that housekeeper they met? She doesn’t exist. She matches no description of any housekeeper that has ever been employed there and the most recent housekeeper was fired six weeks ago.

WHAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT?????

And the house has been shut up for a while.

Mr. Darcy

WHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT!!!!!!!?????

What is going on???

Is it ghosts? Or is there a human trying to frame the Darcys?

The local magistrate is being a bit of a jerk, enjoying the power he has over someone like Darcy and won’t release him. Darcy sends word to his solicitor, who unfortunately has been sent to France to take care of his cousin, but Elizabeth does the only thing they can do to free Darcy, call Lady Catherine.

Lady Catherine comes, throws her weight around, and this guy is no match for her. She gets Darcy released and he’ll be back later for the trial. But unfortunately, Darcy isn’t just released he is released into Lady Catherine’s care and she is coming to Pemberley with them.

This is going to be hard.

Mr. Tilney comes to speak to Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy shows them the letter they received from Captain Tilney and it is dated the day before he died in his own hand. However, when Tilney questions the Darcy’s the man could not be Fredrick (as he was dead on that date) but also the eye was the wrong color.

Hmm…

So who did this and why? What was their scheme? If they wanted the jewels why hide them in the walking stick? What could they have gained from delaying the Darcy’s and getting them caught up in this? Just trying to ruin their good name?

Tilney tried to get the lawsuit dropped, but the magistrate is just salivating over this and he will not do so. Ugh. The Darcys leave for Pemberley, while Mr. Tilney plans on remaining at Northanger and continuing the investigation there and getting the estate handled. So that is mystery number two, you guys are keeping track right?

Mysteries:

  1. What is Lady Anne Darcy’s treasure and where is it hidden?
  2. Who was the man pretending to be Captain Tilney and why did he and the housekeeper frame the Darcys?

 

So Lizzy, Darcy, and Lady Catherine return to Pemberley and find it polluted. Yes a pest infestation has taken root since they have been away. A giant rat called Wickham.

I’m so disappointed.

Lydia immediately accosts Elizabeth for money, and Darcy catches Wickham with a servant girl, Jenny.  Not the welcome home they had wished for. Elizabeth finds living with Lady Catherine to be extremely difficult, no surprise there, and tries to find ways of coping. Elizabeth has been curious over the correspondence with Mrs. Tilney and thought maybe there would be a clue to help find the missing heirloom. She asks for the correspondence to come downstairs from the attic, and discovers that there are NINE trunks!

They have the yearly Harvest Feast, and Elizabeth develops a slight nosebleed. The local midwife helps her, and talks to her about Lady’s Anne’s last pregnancy. She reveals that the object Elizabeth is looking for is a small Madonna and Child ivory statuette.

A CLUE!!!!

Darcy finds her and becomes so worried about the blood, calling for the horrible doctor. Dr. Severn’s arrival makes Elizabeth have to clean up her room, and all the trunks are removed without her being able to finish going through them.

This is going to be hard.

Later Elizabeth has even more fun talking to Lady Catherine and finds out that the statuette was from back in the day when the family was Catholic. Lady Catherine wants it back, but Elizabeth refuses to give it to her if she finds it, intending to keep it. It is a battle of wits as both are searching high and low, in and out, and all over Pemberley.

Treasure?

Elizabeth wants to read Lady Anne’s letter again but it has disappeared. Only later to reappear. That isn’t he only thing that is strange-is Elizabeth just having the pregnancy forgetfulness, is someone sabotaging her, or is there a spirit at play here?

So we have three mysteries:

  1. What is Lady Anne Darcy’s treasure and where is it hidden?
  2. Who was the man pretending to be Captain Tilney and why did he and the housekeeper frame the Darcys?
  3. Why is Elizabeth’s items disappearing a reappearing? Is it a ghost? Pregnancy brain? Or a malicious person?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

This was extremely enjoyable and a very good mystery. I loved it.

For more Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mysteries, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

For more Carrie Bebris, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged)

For more things borrowed from JaneAustenRunsMyLife, go to Skinny Chai Tea Latte

For more Northanger Abbey, go to The Strength of Their Attachment

For more paranormal elements, go to Paper Valentine

For more treasure hunts, go to High Sea Adventure