This one opens with pregnant Elizabeth sharing happy news with Darcy: Jane and Bingley have just had their first child, a healthy baby boy named Charles. Though he feels strongly that Elizabeth should not travel so close to her confinement, she persuades him, and off they go to meet the new baby, see the new house, and spend Christmas with the Bingleys—and, it turns out, many of the characters we know.
Since we last saw everyone, there have been some changes but few of significance. Darcy has begun teasing Bingley, which Bingley attributes to Elizabeth teaching him “how to tease people” (17). Darcy seems to feel differently about Mrs. Bennet, “now that he [is] at a safe distance” from her, even “enjoy[ing] her foibles” (5). Jane is still sweet as ever, but even she has some devious plans, for instance, to leave Mrs. Bennet with Caroline when the former arrives (29). When Darcy and Elizabeth arrive, Caroline is already there, managing the house, and though Jane is up and about and feeling well, Caroline instructs her brother not to “allow” it (20). Somehow the reader doubts Charles would even attempt that. Caroline does seem to have wised up a bit here, even “quickly shut[ting]” her mouth in response to just a look from Elizabeth, having “no wish to cross wits” in a match during which Caroline “would come off the loser” (26). Mary is—probably unintentionally, but the other possibility remains—foot in the mouth as usual, commenting on the new Bingley baby that “very few of those who have greatness foretold for them” the way he has “manage to achieve such greatness” (33). Mrs. Bennet, in her infinite wisdom and generosity, has invited Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins to stay with Jane. This promises to be a very interesting Christmas.
This text is more discreet than many “sequels.” The Darcys take a walk in a garden, and we are told that Elizabeth makes a comment “saucily” to her husband, whereupon he kisses her (43). Three asterisks later, the text describes the time simply: “some time later” (44).
Though this text is beautifully written, there are some flaws in logic. Why would Lady Catherine, for instance, ask Kitty if she has a governess? She already knows from Lizzy that none of the girls did. If she thought they should, she wouldn’t ask, “do you” but rather a question about the governess (54). Also, why would Mrs. Bennet say Kitty and Mary should marry lords when her real plan is to marry Kitty off to Mr. Collins’ brother? (55) I thought it a little strange that Mr. Bennet picks “up a newspaper” and begins “to read it assiduously” when the ridiculous guests arrive (49). This isn’t Mr. Palmer; he should be enjoying the antics of Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins, at least at the start of it all before he needs to retire to Bingley’s library to escape.
Interestingly, our perspective is limited to Darcy’s during *Elizabeth’s labor, so we are as relieved as he is when she is safely delivered. How terrible it must have been for loving husbands to be separated from their wives during those times. How wonderful, though, to be reunited with loved ones during this happy season, the way Elizabeth and Darcy are in this delightful novella.