An Adventure (or misadventure) for Anne de Bourgh
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Poor Anne de Bourgh, at the age of twenty-eight she still remains single, friendless, and under her mother’s management. For twenty-eight years she has been subjected to her mother’s dictatorial and domineering personality and has been forced to play the part of an invalid. Furthermore, because her mother went around proclaiming to everyone that she was the next Mrs. Darcy, Anne feels all the humiliation of her cousin’s recent marriage to Elizabeth Bennet. If that’s not enough, the future doesn’t look very promising for Anne either, as her mother is arranging her marriage to the ill-tempered and abusive Neville Sennex. What is Anne to do? After some kind words of encouragement from Elizabeth, Anne decides to take matters into her own hands. Little did Elizabeth know that her advice would result in Anne de Bourgh sneaking off to Greta Green in the middle of a ball and eloping with none other than Henry Crawford!
When Anne’s flight and destination are realized, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy travel in pursuit of the couple and are instructed to bring them to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is most seriously displeased by this whole affair! But matters become more complicated when a carriage accident that injures Anne detains them in a village called Mansfield, the last village Mr. Crawford would ever want to set foot in again! As soon as word gets out that Mr. Crawford is in town with a Mrs. Crawford, he encounters unpleasant and hostile reunions with all whom he has wronged: an indignant Mr. Rushworth and his mother are first to come pay their respects, followed by a furious Maria Rushworth and Mrs. Norris, and an unforgiving Edmund Bertram. In addition, Lady Catherine comes barreling into Mansfield with Elizabeth Darcy to add to the merry group and have her turn at berating Henry Crawford…
Unfortunately, Lady Catherine’s berating will have to wait as more mysterious happenings commence in Mansfield: the arrival of a mysterious woman, the discovery of a dead body, and the disappearance of Mr. Crawford! While it is true that many may want Mr. Crawford dead, would any of these wronged people commit murder? Or perhaps, Mr. Crawford wanted to avoid facing the consequences of his own actions? Or was there a duel of honor with the very dishonorable Mr. Crawford? The evidence is very equivocal and it appears it will take some shrewd deduction and surreptitious investigation by Mr. and Mrs. Darcy to solve this mystery.
I am very much enjoying this series by Carrie Bebris and I love her diligence and dexterity in incorporating characters from other novels seamlessly and satisfyingly. I loved how this novel took us back to Mansfield to visit with some of our old friends, and I enjoyed seeing Mr. and Mrs. Darcy encounter the likes of Mrs. Norris! However, I was a little disappointed that Fanny did not make an appearance in this novel.
While I was very pleased with the author’s treatment of Anne de Bourgh in giving her a delightful spirit and story, I was a little dissatisfied with her portrayal of Henry Crawford. Is he a scoundrel? Is he reformed? Is he in love? It was as if he had many personalities or characters and I felt as if I never got to the true Henry Crawford. Aside from that, Matters at Mansfield was truly an enjoyable read and I highly recommend this series to fans of Jane Austen and the mystery genre.