Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Jane Gillespie may be a brand new Austenesque author to some of you, but she isn’t brand new. Her sequels (which according to Amazon and Goodreads, I believe number at 9) were published between 1984 and 1999 and all seemed to focus on very minor and obscure characters – like Lucy Steele’s older sister Nancy, Mrs. Weston’s daughter all grown up, or Maria Rushworth and Mrs. Norris! So unique, right? Maybe you can see why I wanted to hunt for copies of Ms. Gillespie’s works and read them for myself (I say hunt, because none of them are in ebook format and all are only available through third-party sellers since they are out of print.)
Even though this is the third book I’ve read by Jane Gillespie, this is the first time I am reviewing one of her works on my blog (the other books were read pre-blog and I haven’t reread them yet!) I noticed that there isn’t a full book blurb on either the Amazon or Goodreads pages for this book, so I thought it might be helpful if I copied it here in my review:
In the happy ending of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy marries the lady of his choice although his mother and aunt had intended him to marry his cousin Miss de Bourgh. We are not told whether his cousin knew of this intention, nor whether she was disappointed, nor indeed whether this delicate, cosseted young lady had any feelings apart from those ascribed to her by her autocratic mother. This story describes the surprising and sometimes alarming adventures that befall her when, in panic flight from that mother, she is compelled to seek a life, character, and relationships of her own – with some success; perhaps she is not Lady Catherine’s daughter for nothing.
This sequel takes place around three years after the close of Pride and Prejudice – Lady Catherine has finally decided to reconcile herself with her disappointing nephew and his unfortunate marriage. Anne, who we quickly find out harbored very private feelings of affection and admiration for her cousin all these years, decides that Pemberley is the last place she would ever want to set foot and is prepared to do something drastic. Anne’s flight leads her and her companion to an unfamiliar village where they encounter a tyrannical patriarch, a resourceful governess, and a sweet young couple with a problematic elopement scheme. Will she ever return to Rosings and face her mother? Or will she denounce her name and assume the role of a governess named Deborah Smith?
What I enjoyed about this sequel – aside from the novelty of a story focusing solely on Anne – was how Ms. Gillespie respectfully fleshed out Anne’s character. In the beginning of the story she has some haughtiness and crossness, but that quickly melts away as she becomes more embroiled in the affairs of others. I enjoyed witnessing Anne’s compassion and concern for others and her gradually developing fortitude as she learns to stand up to domineering personalities and overcome her broken heart. In addition, I also enjoyed the author’s respectful rendering of Lady Catherine and how she reacted to the alterations in her life. But aside from the pleasing progress in Anne’s character and development of Lady C, this sequel didn’t have much else that held my interest. Anne, while improving in my esteem, still felt a little detached and inaccessible as a heroine. And to my chagrin there was a decided lack of romance in this tale. What little there was escalated abruptly and unbelievably.
Overall, I must say this journey to Kent was a pleasant and worthwhile trip. I loved seeing the happier outcomes for Anne, Mrs. Jenkinson, and Lady Catherine after Pride and Prejudice! I would recommend this book for readers who have a strong affinity for Anne de Bourgh and/or hard-to-find Austenesque novels, but this isn’t one I’d recommend going through too much trouble and expense to obtain.