Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Out of all Jane Austen’s novels, Sense and Sensibility is the one I most long to read sequels for! Not because it is my favorite Austen novel, that honor is shared between Pride and Prejudice and Emma. But because I feel a little uncertain about everyone’s happy endings and desirous of seeing evidence of it for myself. I want to see if Marianne is passionately in love with Brandon, if Elinor, after being put through such trials, has found the contentment she deserves, and if Margaret has more sense or more sensibility. And let’s not forget about Mrs. Dashwood! How does she get on in Barton Cottage with an empty nest?
I was most pleased to discover that Rebecca Ann Collins’ sequel, which picks up after seven years after the end of Sense and Sensibility, continues the stories of all FOUR Dashwood women! While Marianne and Margaret share center stage, I loved that there were gratifying subplots for Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood in this tale! The subplot for Mrs. Dashwood was a most delightful surprise! Moreover, this sequel includes appearance by all of our old friends: droll Mr. Palmer, jolly Sir John, self-serving and loathsome Robert and Lucy Ferrars, and our favorite romantic rogue, John Willoughby.
This sequel was pleasantly filled with a lot of drama and action, although it got off to a little bit of a slow start. I was riveted to Marianne’s story – the tension and emotion was palpable! With Willoughby back in the picture and Colonel Brandon away in Ireland… I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next! In addition, I took great pleasure in reading about Margaret’s travels in France and her first discovery of love. I adored Ms. Collins’ Margaret, she was intelligent, compassionate, and mature. Elinor, on the other hand, does not have much excitement going on in her life – although she is kept busy by worrying about the lives of Marianne, Margaret and Mrs. Dashwood! Just like in Sense and Sensibility, she was the sturdy anchor in a sea of drama and chaos.
I must admit, I was a bit hesitant to read this novel. Years ago, I read The Pemberley Chronicles: Book 1 by Rebecca Ann Collins and discovered that it wasn’t my cup of tea. Between the strong focus on history and socio-economics instead of romance, lack of conflict, and the fact that the first novel covered a span of twenty-five years, I found myself disinclined to read the remaining books in the series. While I know there are many who love these books and adore Ms. Collins, I just felt this series wasn’t for me.
I was happy to discover that I loved Expectations of Happiness, and that it was very different from Ms. Collins’ other novels! There is plenty of romance and conflict, the novel only covers the span of one year, and the inclusion of historical information is much more mild. I think readers who, like me, weren’t a fan of The Pemberley Chronicles Series will find much to admire and appreciate in this novel! Expectations of Happiness is an exceptionally well-crafted and entertaining sequel to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. I highly recommend!