Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins – A Review

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

I’m delighted to again read another fantastic work by Rebecca Ann Collins.  She is the critically acclaimed author of the bestselling 10 novel series, The Pemberley Chronicles.  Her writing style is unparalleled in its depth and completion, and I’m always amazed at how detailed and engaging her novels are.  After an incredibly rich 50 years worth of stories starring Lizzy and Darcy, we now turn our attention to Edward, Elinor, Marianne, and Col. Brandon as Collins begins to entice us with her versions of what happened after Jane laid down her pen in writing Sense and Sensibility.

Picking up seven years after the end of Sense and Sensibility, we are transported back into the world of the Dashwood sisters (now Mrs. Ferrars and Mrs. Brandon).  Opening on a rather morbid note, we are taken to Barton Park for the funeral of Lady Middleton (Sir John’s wife) who unfortunately died of an apparent seizure during a dinner party for her mother’s (Mrs. Jennings) birthday.  It’s during this unfortunate event we’re given updates as to where our favorite characters are: Margret, the youngest Dashwood sister, is now studying at a seminary near Oxford thanks to brother-in-law Edward’s assistance.  Edward and Elinor live in the parsonage at Delaford, the estate of Col. Brandon and Marianne.  Edward and Elinor are blessed with two children while the Brandons have none.  After the funeral, Col. Brandon leaves to travel to see his property in Ireland, and it is in his absence that everyone’s worriment for Marianne begins.  She has been the mistress of Delaford for seven years now, and is bored; bored with her day to day life, the lack of inspiration from her surroundings, and above all the lack of like minded people in her circle of friends.  She takes a day trip with some acquaintances and surprisingly comes in contact with Willoughby.  Will seeing him rekindle old feelings, or will she find strength in the love that Col. Brandon has for her?  How will Elinor react when she finds that Willoughby has returned?  What will become of Margret once she’s completed her education at the seminary?

One of Collins’ greatest attributes is her ability to channel the prose of Austen herself.  Her style, while remaining Austen-like, is still unique, and all her own.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Collins is a  true gem in the world of Jane Austen fan fiction.  I’m always excited to read her novels as I know they’ll leave me feeling content and entertained to the highest degree.  They have afforded many Jane Austen purists an escape back to the Victorian era and all its wonders.  This time is exciting in particular because it’s the first time we get Collins’ perspective of the world of Sense and Sensibility.  Her unique vision for the sister seemingly tranquil lives are never dull.

My one complaint was with Elinor’s character.  She seemed filled with more anxiety then I ever remember.  Yes, in the original she is worried about the family’s finances and about Marianne’s relationship with Willoughby, but she was not as bad as she is in Expectations of Happiness.  She seems always on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and poor Edward tries to comfort and console her as she cries her eyes out over almost everything.  It seems that most of the other characters walk on eggshells around her in what they can and can’t tell her for fear of her nerves.  This bothered me, because I read Elinor as a strong woman in Sense and Sensibility.  She gets her family together, helps them stay economical, and is there for Marianne caring for her both on an emotional and physical level when she falls ill.  Heck, she even kicks Willoughby out when he comes back in the end, trying to come back just one more time to see Marianne.  This “new” Elinor seriously displeased me and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Despite this, I have to give Collins credit for her imagination in creating the characterization of Margret, the youngest Dashwood sister.  As she is young and unknown to us in Austen’s original work, it was exciting to see her character take shape and become a strong, intelligent woman with thoughts on her future and what she wanted for it.  I was quite pleased by this plot addition, and the depth that Margret added to the storyline was a great inclusion in an already great story.

So, it is with a happy heart that I conclude my review of Expectations of Happiness (no pun intended!)  Collins has once again showed us that she is a master of Austen’s language and time, and can add postscripts to Austen’s works that dovetail seamlessly to the originals.  Happiness was unique and exciting, and it fulfilled my curiosity as to the fate of Elinor and Marianne after their happy endings as told by Austen.  Give it a try; I’m positive that you won’t be disappointed!

4 out of 5 Stars

Kimberly has kindly filled in for me this month and completed the tenth selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (336) Pages
ISBN: 978-1402253898

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

16 thoughts on “Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins – A Review

  1. Pingback: #69 A Guest Review of Expectations of Happiness by Rebecca Ann Collins « Reflections of a Book Addict

  2. I agree with you about how your saw Marianne – I saw her as the one sensible and strong member of the Dashwood family. Thank you for another wonderful review. I have to say I haven’t read any books by the author, but will look out for them in the future!

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    • I think you meant to say Elinor was the strong one. That’s what was said above. I’m not sure I’m going to like her being such a weakling.

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  3. Thank you Kimberly, for your kind words. I am very happy that you enjoyed the Pemberley Chronicles series and delighted that Expectations of Happiness rated 4 stars from you.
    I am sorry that you found Elinor ‘s character disappointing- because of her excessive anxiety about Marianne; I didn’t intend for her to be “a nervous wreck”- but by way of explanation, I should point out that Elinor, having been proved right ( about Wiloughby’s unreliability ) in the original novel, is desperate to avoid a similar debacle-with Marianne. She is the only person who is left to worry about her, since Mrs Dashwood refuses to take the matter seriously.

    She is also very aware of the fact that any scandal will destroy her sister’s marriage and may even reflect upon her own family including her beloved Edward- who is the parson at Delaford.
    If you think about it in the context of the period and a small rural community in Southern England, I think you may agree that Elinor’s anxiety, though a little excessive- is understandable. In every other way, she remains as she ever was- a steady, generous, warm- heated woman.
    Thank you again for your interest.
    Best regards
    Rebecca Ann Collins

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  4. Thanks for the review. This was another book that would have flown under my radar without this blog. I just bought it on my Kindle.

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  5. Excellent review. This author has sort of “flown under the radar” when it comes to being an Austenesque writer and hopefully this review will bring her to the attention of more Austen lovers. Rebecca Ann Colllins’ Pride and Prejudice sequels are easily among the best out there and the characters stay true to how Jane Austen created them. I am very much looking forward to reading her Sense and Sensibility sequel.

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    • Thank you Beth; I am delighted that you have read and enjoyed the Pemberley novels. I am even more delighted to learn that you agree with me regarding the treatment of characters from original classic novels- by modern writers who claim to create “sequels”. I feel very strongly about this and have had my say before so, I will not bore you by repeating it.
      I do hope you enjoy “Expectations of Happiness”- please do send me your comments when you have read it. You can send them via the contact page on my website at http://www.rebeccaanncollins.com
      Thanks for your interest, RAC.

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  6. I look forward to reading this book and have already bought it. TBR pile, which consists of nothing that is not related to Jane Austen and her times.

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  7. I enjoyed reading this review and I am glad that someone has tackled this kind of S&S sequel. I know it is sacrilege to say, but I always felt that there were loose ends. I was still adjusting with Marianne to her marriage to Brandon, to Elinor’s chance with Edward, and I really wanted to see Lucy Steele ‘rewarded’ for her behavior. Willowby was the one who did get his just desserts if his wife was as controlling and cold as I pictured.
    Look forward to reading this one for myself especially since you have indicated that it is in the ‘voice’ of Austen.

    Thanks for posting!

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  8. I really enjoyed this review! I love the sounds of this story, but must admit it would be “different” to see Elinor in this “state” after her being the stronger character she is in the S&S. I have this on my to-read list and am anxious to get a copy and read it for myself. I also enjoyed the posted comments by the author, Rebecca Ann Collins, and have to say that I’m really looking forward to reading the Pemberley Chronicles series too! I am a total historical fiction Austenesque “addict”, and I wouldn’t want it any other way! LOL

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  9. I just bought this for my Nook, and almost missed it! I really enjoyed the P&P series (own all of those too). I have it on my TBR pile and am looking forward to it. I don’t think enough Austen sequels are written for S&S. Hopefully there will be more to follow- or how about Persuasion.

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  10. Glad you enjoyed this book, too. It’s been awhile since I’ve read S&S, but I didn’t see Elinor as being too weak in this book. I felt that her worrying was justified by Marianne’s actions, and Elinor wants the best for her family.

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  11. Pingback: The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  12. Pingback: Winner Announced in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge Giveaway! « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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