Fiction — Kidle edition. Amazon, 2011. 236 pgs. Free download.
Elliott’s novel picks up Austen’s classic novel changing the narrator to Darcy’s shy sister, Georgiana, and setting the story in 1814 after the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth, Bingley and Jane. The constant reminders of Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness persuades Georgiana to reconsider her notions of love and marriage, to stop assuming that all men will lie and use her like Wickham once tried, but she mourns the fact that the man she loves will never love her back.
At least, not in any other capacity than the older brother/guardian role Colonel Fitzwilliam already fulfills. Lady Catherine de Bough, however, has decided her niece shall marry and has descended upon Pemberley with a string of eligible bachelors.
I normally skim past author’s notes, particularly if the book is fiction rather than non-fiction, but this one begins with a sort-of apology that I could not ignore. I can appreciate the author’s recognition that it is impossible to write on the same level as that of Austen, and Elliott uses this to explain why she chose to write in a diary format rather than the narrative format employed by Austen. But she then proceeds to give away the entire plot of the novel stating that she always thought Georgiana would marry her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and telling the reader to continue on to find out if Elliott stuck to her original idea. Well, of course, you did! I mean, if you’ve always thought Georgiana would marry Fitzwilliam, then it is unlikely you will change your mind. It’s not the incentive to keep reading I think the author wanted it to be.
Modernity began to seep into this novel almost from the very beginning, and I could not believe that an incredibly sheltered, eighteen-year-old Georgiana would have such a frank understanding of sex and prostitution. At one point, she deduces that a potential suitor brought to Pemberley by her aunt is actually gay and not only does she accept it without hesitation, she tries to suggest that the man should be more forth right with who he is. Excuse me? Is this novel not set in 1814?
The remaining characters become caricatures of their prior selves, and anyone previously perceived as “evil” becomes an embarrassment. I’d rather have Lady Catherine never accept Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage than watch her become a complete fool. The only character who actually benefits from Elliot’s treatment is Lady Anne, who finally stops believing she is the perpetually ill person her mother says she is and starts showing an interest in the world.
I also could not buy into the relationship between Georgiana and Fitzwilliam, which was thankfully manifested as an infatuation throughout most of the novel. It may be true that Georgiana has the fortune a second son like Fitzwilliam would need, but I see no reason for Fitzwilliam to be romantically interested in Georgiana, especially since he has been a father figure in her life. The romance is clearly meant to set up for another novel in the series meaning the novel ends rather unsatisfactorily for me.