Mistress of Pemberley by Isobel Scott Moffat

The tiny font of this text gave me pause, but I was soon taken by the homage to Jane Austen with which it begins and the near opening image of Mr. Collins appraising the glassware at Longbourne when he visits for Mrs. Bennet’s funeral.

Though several of the plot devices (Caroline Bingley being up to no good, Elizabeth being nervous that Jane seems more immediately fertile than she does) are not new to a pursuer of the “sequels,” many of them are. Among the new delights are the frustrating failure of Mr. Collins to produce a male heir (Mr. Bennet chuckles from afar), the original courtship by Mr. Bennet of the woman who would become Mrs. Bennet, and the inducing in the reader (and in Elizabeth) of pity for Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who goes from being a seemingly draconian mother to a concerned and loving one.

I noticed a few apparent discrepancies with the original text. Anne de Bourgh now plays piano quite well, often in harmony with Georgiana (did not her health prevent her from learning?), Elizabeth seems to feel more instinctively loyal to her mother’s memory than any of the other sisters, Darcy says he is Georgiana’s sole guardian (what happened to Colonel Fitzwilliam?), Elizabeth mentions her governess (they didn’t have one, which shocks Lady Catherine), and Mr. Bennet writes “regularly” (I suppose that change could have happened, but it seems unlikely). I was also struck by the sister-like bond between Anne and Georgiana; just how much younger than Darcy is Anne? Hadn’t their mothers planned their union while the babies were in their cradles? But if she is really mid-twenties, then the two young men who pursue the giggling cousins would be directed away from the elder, I think.

In the long term, meaning for most of the time I read this story, these small alterations didn’t bother me. The story felt fresh and interesting, and I cared what happened to everyone. I enjoyed the trip to Paris, the realization in Lizzy that her mom’s desire to marry everyone off was not as irrational as it seemed at the time, Mr. Bennet’s exciting new pursuit, the sizzle between Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane’s increasing toughness, and the names of Charlotte’s girls: Lilly and Rose, just like Charlotte’s kids in Sex and the City! (I know: not really relevant, but this is my review, and I make connections where I see fit).

Darcy’s credo, that the young must have a little freedom, ensures the happiness not only of his charge, Georgiana, but also of his cousin, Anne, and, presumably, the Darcys’ own kids someday, and the book ends on a hopeful note, with everyone we like having a male heir :-).

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Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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