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Miss Darcy's Beaux: A Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice continuation (Austeniana Book 1) Kindle Edition
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This is a clean story from Georgiana’s POV. She has been sheltered, protected [except that one summer], coddled, adored by her guardians [Darcy and our dear Colonel] and cloistered at Pemberley. She has been practically raised as an only child due to the age difference between her and her brother. Since the death of her father, Darcy has become like a father figure to her.
Suddenly, out of the blue, shattering the poor girl’s peace of mind, a letter arrived from Lady Catherine stating [commanding] that Georgiana accompany her to London for the season. Her intent to… 1) sponsor Georgiana in her coming out, 2) prepare for her presentation to the Queen, 3) take her ‘… on a tour of the city’s best drawing rooms and balls…,’ 4) and lastly, make a splendid match [never fear Lady C already had someone in mind… to be revealed later]. I wonder if Lady C may have bitten off more that she can chew. She has been away from society for a while and things have changed. She doesn’t know all the rules now and is in for a few surprises of her own.
Oh Lawd! Poor Georgiana, when she tried to resist… was informed by her aunt that she would do as [marry where] she was told. This was horrible and at such bad timing. A lot was going on at Pemberley and Georgiana was hesitant to leave. Elizabeth was approaching her second confinement and she wasn’t doing very well.
The new doctor in the area insisted on bleeding Elizabeth whenever he would visit. Lawd, it is a wonder women survived childbirth at all. She had become so weak that she could hardly get around. She was confined to bed and the midwife was livid with the doctor’s procedures. Meanwhile, Darcy had his hands full with an estate boundary problem, plus worrying over Elizabeth and her anxiety over the arrival of her family. Both Darcy and Georgiana were very aware that their mother died after the birth of Georgiana [her second child].
Shortly after receiving Lady Catherine’s letter [command], the Bennets descended upon Pemberley [complete with Lydia Wickham] and suddenly, a season in London with Lady Catherine didn’t look so bad. Lydia was brash, bold, brazen, haughty and flirty with anything wearing a pair of pants. Seriously, the woman had no shame. No male, within ten feet of her, was safe from her outrageous behavior and daring style of dress. Show ‘em while you’ve got ‘em. I’m sure that was her motto and was probably tattooed on her behind. She eventually made her way to London to cause additional trouble. OMG!!
Readers will delve deep into Georgiana’s angst filled emotions and the various levels of young love: budding, lost, unrequited, and then the sudden throes of new romance. As Georgiana met several men seeking a fortune… em… a wife… she kept comparing them all to Wickham.
“I think a lot of people still fantasize about that first love and what might happen if they rekindled the relationship.” Sophie Kinsella
Wickham will always hold a special place in Georgiana’s heart. He was her first love and she declared that she loved him still, even after he disappointed her. He would always be the epitome of what a gentleman should be. He was tall, handsome, smelled nice, and he made her feel so loved and wanted. Hang on… you and I know that will fall in the dirt and… soon. She will eventually remove those rose-colored glasses when she is hit with a cold slap of reality. Just keep reading. When it arrives, it will be worth it. OMG! He even had the nerve to approach her while she was on the arm of another man. That didn’t go well.
“My heart no longer felt as if it belonged to me. It now felt as it had been stolen, torn from my chest by someone who wanted no part of it.” Meredith T. Taylor, Churning Waters
Talk about receiving a reality check on her glossed over memories. Man, it rocked her world and toppled the pedestal on which he stood. She may even manage to dredge up an ounce of sympathy for Lydia. One can hope, but don’t bet on it.
I liked the writing style even though it felt modern at times. The author used a strategy that was a bit frustrating. There was a lot of telling rather than showing. However, we have to remember that a young, unmarried girl would not be out and about and would only know what was told to her. We, the reader, experienced everything that Georgiana did, when she did. I found that fascinating.
There were also a lot of surprises with characters showing up from other JA stories. This cross over worked wonderfully and I was a bit surprised at how easily they fit in the story. We had a bit of Mansfield Park and Persuasion.
One item bothered me… the handling of our dear Colonel… a fandom favorite. It is a fine line to walk in creating a character with behavior that is vastly different than canon. It can be a tricky move pushing him toward anything that resembles a wastrel brother. I like the solution for him and hope it worked out well. I would have liked a bit more information on that.
There were a few errors that were the most glaring... the discussion of Captain William Price’s family. It said his mother was a Bertram. Actually, she was a sister to Lady Bertram. There were three sisters, Mrs. Norris, Lady Bertram and Mrs. Price, William’s mother.
Next, Baronet Elliot would be addressed as Sir Walter Elliot not Lord Elliot. Then there were the continuity problems: we have the mention of letters in one place and notes in another and they were hidden in Georgiana’s trunk. At one point, she bundled them and threw them in the fire. About a dozen pages later she retrieved them, from the bonnet where she had hidden them, and threw them in the fire.
There were several threads left hanging, even though there was an epilogue, it didn’t satisfy my questions. I wondered about this one, or that one, and what happened to them, and especially in one case… couldn’t there have been a minor title bestowed, small things … you know?
This might be the best description ever of Wickham and the childhood love Georgiana felt for the two males in her life: Where Wickham was stories and laughs, Fitzwilliam was concern and sternness. I loved my brother dearly, he was my picture of a perfect gentleman, but I was in love with Wickham even before I even knew what romance was. What followed, the folly of a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape the sheltered world she had always lived in with the man she had always adored, came close to disgracing me forever.
Our story opens at Pemberley where Elizabeth is ill with her second pregnancy. The Darcys are invaded by Bennets: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Jane Bingley, and Lydia Wickham (who arrives uninvited). Also at Pemberley is the Darcys’ cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, who brings an invitation (or a command) from Lady Catherine for Georgiana to attend the Season in London under her guidance.
Lady Catherine has never forgiven Darcy and Elizabeth. Her anger was compounded by the death of Anne de Bourgh soon after the marriage. Darcy and the Colonel agree to send Georgiana to London where Lady Catherine undertakes to mold her niece.
Lady Catherine does speak the truth in one way: she claims Georgiana has stagnated by remaining safe at Pemberley and so she has. She is still the introvert, still afraid to speak her mind even to her Brother and still paralyzed by her love for Wickham. And she is still terrified to disagree with her Aunt.
I speak truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little the more, as I grow older. ~Michel de Montaigne, translated
Lady Catherine is welcomed back to London by many at the highest levels including some people we have met before in other Austen works most notably: Mr. & Mrs. Wentworth, Lady Dalrymple and her daughter from Persuasion and William Price, brother to Fanny from Mansfield Park.
Amid a conflagration of dinners, balls, court presentation and calls, Georgiana must discover her 20-year-old self and leave behind her 15-year-old self-images.
It is a joy to read from an edited and proofread work. So many of these self-published stories make me despair of the American school system! Not this one. This author’s writing is so beautiful, I am going to let the book do part of my review.
Quote from the book: It had been shocking to see Wickham, but also enlightening. Reality had brusquely shown me that the man I had thought him to be was a figment of my imagination. My memories of Wickham, his handsome looks, his graceful countenance, his spellbinding conversation, these all remained, but they were forever tainted by the recent sighting of the person he had become. The final scraps of chivalry and dignity he still had when I met him last had been lost forever. Best of all, the weight that had been oppressing me since that day in Ramsgate had finally lifted. I was finally free from him.
Here’s another image I loved: London had the grey tinge of cloudy days and it appeared to be in need of a good scrub, as if the maid in charge of keeping it clean was losing her eyesight and couldn't quite see the dust build-up.
There are a few minor editing errors: Captain Wentworth is once referred to as Colonel, Lady Catherine once says Georgiana is like her maternal grandfather Lewis de Bourgh who was her uncle by marriage instead of her grandfather and Wickham is once spelled as Wickam.
There also were a few minor plot issues:
1. Elizabeth is having a problem pregnancy and Darcy trusts a “modern” doctor who bleeds her and insists on strict bedrest. Bloodletting was still done in the early 1800s but it was on the way out and wouldn’t have been considered “modern”.
2. In London, the Wickhams are invited to homes where they NEVER would have been received in “fictional” actuality, such as Lady Dalrymple’s ball. But they are needed to create a scene, so there they go.
It was hard to like Colonel Fitzwilliam in this story – and you know how much I always want to like the dear Colonel. He’s no villain but he does have his share of problems.
But Georgiana discovers her priorities and finds her voice: "Dear Aunt, I am well aware of my deficiencies, and that no matter how much I try to cultivate my talents and demeanour to appear more agreeable to you, my essential lack of outstanding physical beauty shall always act as a deterrent to your affection and respect. But pray, understand that there is no need to mention it every time we speak."
This is a very good effort from a first-time published author who gifted me a copy of this book with no promise of a review, favorable or otherwise.
Boldness is a mask for fear, however great. ~John Dryden