Everyone has their own thoughts on how the happily ever after continued at the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. As of late, we have seen many creative sequels with Lizzy and Darcy taking another turn about the shrubberies. What they do in those shrubberies can be quite surprising. Rest assured, you will see none of that in And This Our Life, by C. Allyn Pierson.
This sequel takes the straight and narrow path from page one with few detours in Austen’s tone, reverently recreating her characters and bathing them an idealistic light. The story immediately picks up as the Bennet sisters, Jane and Elizabeth prepare for their marriages to Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is still miffed over her nephew Darcy’s choice of a ‘no name bride’ and Bingley’s sister Caroline is as acrimonious as ever. However, the ceremony proceeds and the couples depart for their London townhouses and wedded bliss. The narrative is primarily from Elizabeth’s perspective and we experience her anxieties at being accepted by London society and the Darcy family quickly resolved, and her concerns over being Mistress of Pemberley not really materialize. One delight in Elizabeth’s new life is Mr. Darcy’s shy young sister Georgiana who she eagerly assists in her preparation for her society debut. Darcy gets his bit of storyline too as he aids the Prince Regent in the recovery of stolen letters in a James Bondish escapade in Paris. In addition to other familiar characters such as Mr. Bennet and daughter Kitty, we are introduced to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s parents Lord and Lady Whitwell, a new amiable neighbor Sir Robert Blake, and a few villains thrown in for good measure, ner’ do well Jonathan Walker, dissolute George Lewis Winslow Fitzwilliam, Viscount St. George, and the gold digging Comte de Tourney.
Overall this debut novel is a sweet story that will delight most Austen purist. The plot would have benefitted from more tension and drama as life with the Darcy’s was a bit too perfect. One of the things that I appreciate about Austen’s characterizations is that even her hero and heroine have their faults, and the process to overcome them is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her storyline. We do see Georgiana develop from a shy retreating girl into a confident young woman, but that was not quite enough for me. Furthermore, the pacing was slow until about 100 pages in, and then improved greatly. Ms. Pierson’s understanding of literature, Regency history and social customs was the highlight of this novel. We are in no doubt of Lizzy and Darcy’s happy ever after. I just wish that it could have been harder wrought.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
And This Our Life: Chronicles of the Darcy Family: Book 1, by C. Allyn Pierson
Trade paperback (239) pages
Interview of the author