Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict
The Legacy of Pemberley is the tenth and final novel in the acclaimed Pride and Prejudice sequel series by Rebecca Ann Collins. The ten novels in the series cover the fifty years following the wedding of Elizabeth Bennet to Fitzwilliam Darcy. It is by far the most complete series of sequels that I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
Beginning with a controversial engagement similar to Elizabeth and Darcy’s, we are thrust back into the lives of the Darcy, Bingley, and Gardiner families. Continuing fifty years after the Darcy’s marriage we delve deeper into the lives of their children and grandchildren through marriage, death, friendship, love, conflict, etc. As their childrens lives take center stage in the narrative Lizzie and Darcy make the difficult decision to travel to Europe with Jane and Charles Bingley in the hopes that it will restore Charles and Lizzie’s health.
“As you know, Richard, Charles, and Jane Bingley leave for Europe next week. Bingley has leased a villa in the south of Italy where they will spend the Winter, and he has on more than one occasion invited us to join them. Would it help Mrs. Darcy, too? Would you recommend it?…Without any reservation , sir; it would be the very thing, since it would provide all those essential ingredients I have just mentioned. In the company of Mr. and Mrs. Bingley, you would enjoy the benefits of travelling overseas without any of the aggravation of being with a party of strangers.”
With their departure as main characters, Collins is afforded the opportunity to focus on the characters she created and complete their storylines. Character mysteries are solved, new romances begin budding, deaths are grieved, and much more. This is only a sliver of the storylines that exist within The Legacy of Pemberley.
If this book was given to me without an author, I can honestly say that I might think that Austen herself wrote it. Collins is without a doubt the only author I’ve read that has not strayed far from Austen’s style. She is a true gem in the world of Jane Austen fan fiction, and it’s sad to see her Pemberley Chronicles series conclude. They have afforded many Jane Austen purists an escape back in to the Regency world of Pemberley and into the Victorian-era. Yes, the genre of Jane Austen fan fiction affords one the pleasure of exploring other characters and situations that would have definitely not existed in Austen’s original works, but Collins’ writing seems to transcend that. Although it is an extrapolation of Darcy and Lizzie’s life it doesn’t feel like it. We can grow along with them and feel as if we are there with them watching their children grow.
The series not only offers the reader the chance to feel like one of the family, but it gives insight into the social, political, and historical England of the period. The Legacy of Pemberley takes place during the middle of the Victorian Era, where we can see the beginnings of the Christmas tree tradition that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert started making popular, as well as the beginning of trains and coal.
I personally have to state that I have not had the opportunity to read the books that fall in the middle of this series. I did however read the first in the series a long time ago and remember being impressed with how rich the story and characters were. Missing out on the middle books however did create some confusion for me in the characters. Collins has created such rich lives for the characters that over the course of 50 years they’ve had children who have gotten married and have had their own children. There are so many characters and so many storylines that I do have to warn you: if you haven’t read the other novels you might want to wait and read them in order. It will definitely enrich the novels having knowledge of the characters from start to finish.
While all good things must come to an end, they do sometimes leave a “legacy” behind. In the case of The Legacy of Pemberley and Collins’ entire Pemberley series, the legacy they inherit is a story with rich characters who teach love, family, friendship, honor, humility, courage, and much more. If Austen were alive today, I think she would be proud that the themes so prevalent in her own novels continue to thrive in the works that emulate her own.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
The Legacy of Pemberley: The Pemberley Chronicles No 10, by Rebecca Ann Collins
Trade paperback (352) pages
© 2007 -2010 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose