From the desk of Katie Jackson:
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Kitty Bennet—the fourth of five sisters—has always been something of an enigma. Her father thought her silly, but mostly she was just an easygoing follower, overshadowed by the gregarious personality of her younger sister and the cleverness or beauty of her older ones. Imagine, if you will, a slightly older and more mature Kitty. Three of her sisters have married, and she’s yearning for a new life of her own. On that note begins Kitty Bennet’s story in Her Summer at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice sequel by Sallianne Hines.
At nearly 19 years old, Kitty Bennet “was still seen as merely a dimmer version of Lydia. How could Kitty gain respectability and marry well?” (1) “With an indifferent education, a less than respectable fortune, and a family estate entailed away, Kitty’s prospects were bleak at best.” (2)Forlorn over her seemingly dismal future at Longbourn, she requests and is granted an invitation to visit her older sister, Elizabeth Darcy, at Pemberley.
“This visit would be a new beginning, away from her dull childhood home and the same tiresome people. Kitty was determined to prove herself worthy of a fine future, but she needed assistance.” (5) And assistance soon arrives in the form of a grand ball to be hosted by Darcy and Lizzy in her honor. Kitty will officially make her debut in society on her nineteenth birthday. The Darcys invite all of their dearest friends and neighbors to join in the festivities, and it seems this is the new beginning Kitty had been hoping for. She could finally enjoy the great pleasure of developing loyal and lasting friendships with other genteel ladies and gentlemen. Most importantly, she is finally at liberty to establish a close connection with her own sister Lizzy, as well as Mr. Darcy’s sister Georgiana, and even Mr. Darcy himself. Reliable relationships she never knew she was missing until she’d discovered them. “This was new—having others interested in knowing her, without the interference of a dominating sister.” (38)
As Kitty seeks to find her place in Derbyshire society, she feels uncertainty over her status as a true lady, given her limited accomplishments and her secret affinity for horses, but she is equally determined that “people here will know me on my own merits.” (86) She strives to learn all she can from those around her in order to improve her knowledge and skills with the hope of becoming a more desirable life partner for some fine gentleman. As she observes the happy couples around her, so different from the acrimonious relationship between her parents, “she found the possibility of such a pleasant partnership very comforting. It left her hopeful she might find the same.” (98)
Quite unexpectedly, the secrets and intrigues of her new friends—and a surprising new acquaintance—will embroil Kitty in unparalleled action and mystery. Can she rely upon her inner strength to see them all through the strife, as others have come to trust and rely upon her?
Although there was some distracting repetition throughout the book, and the addition of countless new characters was difficult to keep straight at times, I enjoyed witnessing Kitty’s evolution. It was sweet to see her insecurity gradually recede as her confidence grew. I imagined her as the actress, Polly Maberly, who played her so well in the 1995 BBC screen adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and her actions and words were true to her character. I was delighted by Kitty’s skill and knowledge as a passionate horsewoman and found that a believable and endearing secret. Of all the Bennet sisters, Kitty has always been very much in the background, both in canon as well as in the more recent world of Austenesque variations. “Having been so unknown and unvalued at Longbourn, she was more grateful than ever for her visit to Pemberley.” (153) Her Summer at Pemberley is a refreshing look at an oft-ignored yet intriguing Kitty Bennet as she seeks her own happily-ever-after and discovers that she deserves it.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
Her Summer at Pemberley: Kitty Bennet’s Story, by Sallianne Hines
Grasslands Press (March 2, 2020)
Trade paperback, and eBook (356) pages
Cover image courtesy of Grasslands Press © 2020; text Katie Jackson © 2020, Austenprose.com