Visiting Our Last Jane Austen Haunt
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Through her enchanting trilogy about Jane Austen addicts, Victoria Connelly takes her readers on a beautiful and vivid sojourn to all the best Austenesque haunts. Whether they are attending a Jane Austen conference in Hampshire (A Weekend with Mr. Darcy), witnessing the filming of a Jane Austen adaptation in Lyme (Dreaming of Mr. Darcy), or taking in the Jane Austen Festival in Bath (Mr. Darcy Forever), readers are gifted the opportunity to tour Jane Austen’s England through the pages of charming prose.
Utilizing the ever present theme of sisters in Jane Austen’s novels, Victoria Connelly weaves a story about the relationship between two sisters, Sarah and Mia Castle. These two sisters, despite their nine-year age difference, once shared a closeness and openness similar to Jane and Elizabeth Bennet or Cassandra and Jane Austen, but because of a terrible falling out over a man, they have endured a three-year-long separation and silence. But it looks like that will soon change, as both sisters have decided to attend the Jane Austen Festival in Bath this year…
While A Weekend with Mr. Darcy remains my favorite in this trilogy, I’d say Mr. Darcy Forevercomes in at a close second. I loved that this story sort of resembled a modern-day Sense and Sensibility,with two heroines that bear strong resemblances to Elinor and Marianne. In addition, I took great pleasure in how the present-day story-lines were interlaced with flashback scenes. Since we aren’t told right away what caused the rift between Sarah and Mia, it was intriguing to learn about their past through these revealing little scenes.
I’m finding it a bit of a challenge to name what I like best about Victoria Connelly’s writing. The many parallels and allusions to Jane Austen that are such fun to discover? The dual plot and dual point-of-views she creates giving readers double the drama and double the romance? Or, the vivid images and tangible impressions she gives her readers by describing in great detail the city of Bath? See the predicament I am in?!? I cannot possibly choose! Suffice it to say, Victoria Connelly is a very accomplished and estimable author, and I dearly hope she continues to write more for the Austenesque genre.
Similar to Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, I did sometimes feel that characters fell in love a little too quickly, and their romances were a little underdeveloped. But my main complaint for this novel is with Alec Burrows (Willoughby). For me, he just didn’t make sense! What was his interest with Sarah? Was he like Henry Crawford and toying with her affections for sport? Did he have an ulterior motive (money?) Did he really love Mia? Moreover, his reappearance and actions towards the end of the book were a little unbelievable, especially since he showed no inclination of these feelings before. In Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby’s motives are explained, we know why he acts as he does; and while we don’t approve, we understand him. I didn’t feel that with Alec. I think I would have liked him more if his character was more developed.