Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice sequel
TIME FRAME: 25 years after the close of Pride and Prejudice
MAIN CHARACTERS: While there is numerous progeny from the Darcy, Bingley, Fitzwilliam, and Collins families mentioned in this tale, the main characters seem to be these sibling pairs – Henry and Juliet Darcy and Jonathan and Eliza Collins.
SYNOPSIS: “The romantic attachments of one’s children are a constant distraction” for Mrs. Darcy. While her eldest son is very nearly engaged, it is her two younger children that cause some grief. Her second son, Henry, seems to have lost his heart to Eliza Collins after three days, and her daughter, Juliet, is mad for a roguish and wild lieutenant by the name of Gerard Churchill. So what does Mrs. Darcy do? She gives a grand ball at Pemberley in hopes of broadening their acquaintances with young people their age…
WHAT I LOVED:
– Relationships and Romance: “Love has broken out like the pox.” This quote is from Elizabeth Darcy and it sums up this sequel very succinctly! In the first couple of chapters we learn all about what became of each important character from Pride and Prejudice and are introduced to their offspring who are just at the perfect age to form romantic entanglements and be “crossed in love.” 🙂 I greatly enjoyed how there was more than one romance focused on in this story.
– Mr. and Mrs. Collins: I loved witnessing some internal reflection from Mr. Collins and Charlotte. I think Ms. Newark has a soft-spot for these two. It was interesting to learn a bit more about Mr. Collins’s childhood and family, and to see the ways in which he is appreciative and grateful to Charlotte. And vice versa.
– Painting a Scene: One of Ms. Newark’s strengths was describing in lush details the sights, sounds, and smells of each scene. Her descriptions of Pemberley and the ball were especially vivid and helped create some elaborate and tangible visuals in my mind. I also appreciated how Ms. Newark took pains to reference people, works of literature, and styles of clothing of the time period. Since this story does take place twenty-five years later, I enjoyed the subtle hints of the new time period and historical backdrop.
– As They Ever Were: Oh, it was such a delight to see the ways in which some people don’t change! Mr. Collins was still ridiculous, Caroline Bingley still extremely haughty and insulting, and Mr. Darcy still reserved and…adorable!
WHAT I LIKED BUT DIDN’T LIKE AT THE SAME TIME:
- Old Friends and Familiar Names: It was a cute and clever idea of Ms. Newark’s to place many other Jane Austen characters as friends and acquaintances to the Darcys. When Mrs. Darcy plans her ball, she invites the Wentworths, the Knightleys, the Bertrams, the Brandons, etc. And while I loved the idea of the Darcys and Knightleys knowing each and becoming friends, it did seem to take up a lot of page time to describe all these families and the offspring they produced. And oftentimes it was for little purpose. Many of the characters mentioned don’t have any speaking parts or do anything to further the plot in this story. I think it would have been better just to mention a few characters from Jane Austen’s other books rather than such a high number. With such a large cast, each character got less page time and development.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Some Niggling Quibbles: Why do the Darcys and Collinses never meet? (I find it hard to believe that Elizabeth and Charlotte would meet only once in 25 years? Especially with the Collinses in Meryton.) Would these families really come all the way from Surrey, Southampton, and Gloucester just for a ball? (As far as we know these guests came for just the one day pretty much, this is not a fortnight visit or house party.)
While I’m not usually one to gravitate towards Pride and Prejudice sequels that take place so many years later, I loved my visit with the Darcys and the Collinses and their children. The Darcys Give A Ball is a delightful and amusing light-hearted tale, a perfect choice for readers wanting a diverting and fast read!