When I began making my list of Pride and Prejudice sequels, I couldn’t remember why I hadn’t finished reading Mr. Darcy’s Daughters. I remember now. The back cover blurb of Mr. Darcy’s Daughters makes the claim that it “is a tale that would please Austen herself,” but it’s more likely that poor Jane is rolling over in her grave.
First of all, Aston has the date wrong for the setting of her sequel. Pride and Prejudice took place around the time it was published — 1812 to 1813 — and in 1818, the eldest Miss. Darcy, Letitia, would have been barely five, not twenty-one. For Aston’s setting to make sense, Darcy and Elizabeth would have had to marry in 1792 and jumped the gun on their wedding night.
And although the book is named for the daughters, there’s not a single one of them I liked. Letitia is Mary Bennet with a side of Jane as she gets her heart broken, and Camilla, the second daughter, is Elizabeth Bennet. The youngest child, Alethea, is a mix between Jane and Lydia, talented and beautiful, but sneaking out of the house to attend balls. And, finally, Georgiana and Belle, the twins, are Kitty and Lydia with their giggling, impropriety, and flirtatiousness. It’s hard to believe that Darcy and Elizabeth would ever have raised such silly girls like the twins, a sly daughter like Alethea, and a narrow-minded daughter who conjures up reminders of her spinster Aunt Mary.
The remaining characters are so out of touch with Austen’s originals, it’s sickening. Col. Fitzwilliam is now a wealthy, haughty, and stuffy man who cares more about his wife’s bosom and votes than his cousin’s daughters. The Gardiners are extremely wealthy people, who have raised a little chit of a daughter, Sophie, and the appearance of Lady Caroline Warren, nee Bingley, is all for naught. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, has just up and disappeared, there is barely any mention of Bingley or Jane, whom one would expect Darcy and Elizabeth to entrust their daughters too, and Darcy and Elizabeth themselves are out of the picture, just an empty threat between the sisters.
The story is a regurgitated version of Pride and Prejudice with the new Mr. Wickham’s offense being the fact that he is gay rather than a fortune hunter and the setting taking place in London rather than across England. The idea of Mr. Darcy having five daughters sounded amusing, but this book was truly awful.
- Aston, Elizabeth. Mr. Darcy’s Daughters. New York: Touchstone, 2003. 360 pgs. ISBN: 9780743243971. Source: Library.