From the desk of Sophia Rose:
What is left to a woman when by law she is at the mercy of an incompetent, oafish cousin? Why, a quiet rebellion, of course!
Victoria Kincaid has authored many lively Pride and Prejudice variations and retellings over the years which I have thoroughly enjoyed. While respecting Jane Austen and her works, Ms. Kincaid infuses her latest, Rebellion at Longbourn, with strong entertainment value and a shout for human injustice.
After Mr. Bennet passes away in the prime of his life, his daughter Elizabeth discovers that life is not fair, and justice is not just when women and dependents have no recourse. By law, her family’s estate of Longbourn must go to a male heir, which is their odious cousin Mr. Collins. In addition, her sister Lydia’s thoughtless elopement has destroyed the reputation of her entire family.
As she watches her nincompoop cousin Mr. Collins take over her family estate and proceed to run it into the ground, their very survival is now in jeopardy. The income from the harvest is not enough to sustain Collin’s extravagant expenditures, so he pulls from the estate resources resulting in less for the workers and the dependent Bennet family.
After Mr. Collins refuses to listen to good advice about running the estate, Elizabeth has had enough. She realizes that what Collins’ ignorance does not know will benefit others. So, she sets out to make things right on the estate and assuages her conscience that what she and others do behind his back is still benefiting him, so they are not stealing or taking advantage.
Right, when it is finally going well, Mr. Darcy returns to the neighborhood. He has been away in North America for two years and tried to forget Elizabeth, the lady with the fine eyes, and how ineligible she is for him. However, learning of the Bennet family’s fate stabs him to the heart. He could have stopped Wickham and their reputation would not be in tatters so half the community would not be shunning them. He determines to set things right even while resisting his attraction to her. As an attentive landowner, he is startled by some anomalies he sees going on around Longbourn that Collins is unaware of and Elizabeth appears to know about as well. Can he trust in the woman’s character to be honorable and have a good reason for her actions?
As I said in the opening, Rebellion at Longbourn speaks to the struggle women and the lower classes faced when forced to be utterly dependent on male heads of house and business to run things well and to provide well for them. There was no recourse by law if it was mishandled. I was particularly taken emotionally with how the author portrayed such circumstances.
While this latest variation is a love story between a man struggling with his sense of duty to his class and family vs his love for a good woman, and how a woman who must overcome her preconceived notions to value the man, I felt the romance took a backseat to the struggle to save Longbourn from Lady Catherine’s overstepping advice and maneuverings and Collin’s ignorance. It made a good conflict for the story and kept me quite engaged.
I liked what Kincaid did with the characters, particularly the Bennet women and Mr. Collins’ wife Charlotte. They were recognizable to the Austen originals, but there was the maturity that comes through adversity. The women worked together and supported each other. I enjoyed Darcy and Georgiana’s brother-sister relationship as well. Darcy had pride, but he was also able to listen to good advice, take it, and render an apology when necessary. I found this Darcy very dashing. And, naturally, a crusading Elizabeth with a gentle heart was a brilliant heroine.
All in all, I was fully absorbed and found Rebellion at Longbourn a thought-provoking, riveting, and romantic tale that I can easily recommend to Austenesque lovers and sweet historical romance fans.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Rebellion at Longbourn: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Victoria Kincaid
Meadowbrook Press (June 1, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (172) pages
Cover image courtesy of Meadowbrook Press © 2020; text Sophia Rose © 2020, Austenprose.com