Georgiana: Pride & Prejudice Continued (Book 3), by Sue Barr—A Review

Georgiana Pride & Prejudice Continued by Sue Barr 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

I have been aware of Sue Barr’s work since she released the first book in her Pride and Prejudice Continued series, Caroline. My curiosity was aroused when she chose to continue Austen’s classic story with the memorable side character and didn’t hesitate to redeem Caroline Bingley and give her a chance at happiness in an unlikely place. Then it was Kitty Bennet’s turn in book two, Catherine, who fell hard for a man who was not what he seemed. And, here we have the third book, Georgiana, with Mr. Darcy’s little sister stepping out of the shadows of her past and becoming the current heroine.

Georgiana is recovered physically and emotionally from her youthful mistake with George Wickham, but now that she is on the cusp of her presentation and entrance into London society, she wonders if she is truly ready or if she will be fooled again. If only Max Kerr, Duke of Adborough, the kind gentleman who put her at ease and made her feel they belonged, felt the same way about her as she did for him. Their families are friendly, and she knows they could be happy. Instead, she hears nothing from Max and now must face a London season of discovering the difference between those who would pursue her for her fortune. She has her family around her, but the danger still circles and, in the end, after a painful, winding road, can she let trust grow and forgiveness heal so she can find love with the right man.

Georgiana was a story that I read out of order and from which I still found great enjoyment. I had no trouble doing so because the early chapters caught the reader up on the two previous books and the news of the family. However, it is something of a series spoiler because it shares what happened with the earlier couples to a certain extent. So, if a reader likes to get all the surprises and story as it happens, then it is best to start at the beginning with Caroline.

As to the story, the first half was gently paced, sweet, and rather predictable. Georgie was an adorable heroine and easy to like and wish well. She wants to be done with her past and have the love and friendship she sees in her brother’s marriage and those of her friends. She knows she can have that with Max but is not certain he sees her the same way. Max’s perspective alternates with Georgiana’s so the reader does know what Max is thinking and it’s all going on swimmingly toward a rapid conclusion even if there are sharks in the water after Georgie’s fortune and match-making mamas intent on Max as a future son in law. Continue reading

Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister, by C. Allyn Pierson – A Review

It’s tough being a teenager, even if you are the handsome, accomplished and wealthy Georgiana Darcy. Your parents are dead and you have dull Mrs. Annesley for a companion. Being painfully shy and having an older brother like Fitzwilliam doesn’t help matters much either. His standards are incredibly high. He “cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen [young ladies], in the whole range of [his] acquaintance, that are really accomplished.” And, then there’s Colonel Fitzwilliam. He’s your cousin and co-guardian with your brother. He arrives for inspection and departs by patting you on the head like a dog. How can you possibly be the refined, accomplished young lady that your family expects before your presentation to London society when you don’t know how to walk with grace, talk with ease, and curtsey to the King without wobbling? No wonder you’re churlish and snappy…you’re only seventeen!

Pride and Prejudice continues through the eyes of young, impressionable, and insecure Miss Georgiana Darcy as debut novelist C. Allyn Pierson picks up the story right before the wedding of her brother Fitzwilliam to Elizabeth Bennet and continues through their first year of marriage and Georgiana’s presentation at court. From Pemberley to Hertfordshire to London, we follow Georgiana through the trials of teen angst, as she candidly writes in her diary of doubts and struggles universally acknowledged by anyone who has ever been there: “Why did I say that?” or “She doesn’t like me.” or “Why do they treat me like a child?” or “Does this boy like me?” all through her gentle, sweet-natured, and occasionally brusque manner. Along the way, we are privy to the Regency life of the privileged upper class with the trials of shopping, theatre, formal dinners, Balls, and London society. With the assistance of Colonel Fitzwilliam’s mother Lady Whitwell and Elizabeth Darcy, Georgiana has every advantage a young girl needs, so why is she so nervous, and what man will ever want her from more than her dowry? Continue reading

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview: A Review

In The Other Mr. Darcy, last year’s debut Austenesque novel by Monica Fairview we were introduced to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s American cousin Robert Darcy. Now the story continues with The Darcy Cousins, a Pride and Prejudice sequel to a sequel when his two younger siblings Clarissa and Frederick Darcy arrive from Boston and join their brother and the Darcy family at Rosings Park, the palatial estate of Mr. Darcy’s officious aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Being young, brash Americans, Clarissa and Frederick immediately ruffle Lady Catherine’s unyielding standards of social stricture. Dutiful and naïve Georgiana Darcy is shocked and intrigued by her cousin Clarissa’s adventuresome and unguarded behavior. Her shy and retreating nature has always acquiesced to proper decorum and her family’s wishes. So has her sickly cousin Anne de Bourgh, who at age 29 remains unmarried and firmly under the thumb of her tyrannical mother. Clarissa is convinced that Anne has been imprisoned by Lady Catherine at Rosings like a tragic heroine in a Gothic novel. Together, Clarissa and Georgiana clandestinely meet Anne hoping to learn her mysterious back story, offer their friendship and encourage her to improve her situation.

Clarissa’s lively spirits also make her very popular with the young men of the neighborhood, especially to rakish charmer Percy Channing. Clarissa welcomes his attentions while wide-eyed Georgiana watches a seasoned coquette in action. She is also attracted to Channing and in turn, annoyed by his sensible and matter-of-fact cousin Henry Gatley who sees right through Clarissa and Channing’s affected airs. “But the perversity of the human spirit is such that when a young lady longs for a specific partner, every other partner counts for nothing.” When Georgiana overhears Channing privately proclaim to his cousin that she is an insipid bore, she is determined not to be the dull as ditchwater little rich girl and entreats her cousin Clarissa’s help to school her in fashion and the art of feminine allurements. And then the unthinkable happens! Their cousin Anne simply vanishes without a trace. Has she been abducted or is this a run-away-marriage to Scotland? Speculation and emotions escalate until Lady Catherine unjustly places all the blame on Clarissa and Georgiana’s influence upon her daughter. As Mr. Darcy defends his sister and young cousin the battle lines are drawn and a family riff erupts. Will the Shades of Rosings be thus polluted? Can Georgiana have her London Season under the shadow of her cousin’s unexplained disappearance and the family scandal? How can she earn her family’s trust after her disastrous affair with George Wickham? Will her newly acquired feminine wiles lure Percy Channing away from her cousin Clarissa? And why is that pesky Mr. Gatley always at the ready to remind her that she’s a swan trying to be a peacock?

In this coming-of-age story, Monica Fairview presents an engaging historical romance through the eyes of innocent Georgiana Darcy who idealistically thinks the grass is always greener in her cousin Clarissa’s court. Hard wrought lessons on human nature and love must be learned before she can find her own happiness. We are never in much doubt that she will succeed, or whom she will bestow her favor upon, but that matters not. Fairview has such an effortless way of unfolding the narrative that we are swept along with Jane Austen’s beloved characters and her own new additions seamlessly. The story is infused with the flavor of Austen’s world but entirely her own unique creation. It is hard not to compare her skill at irony to Austen’s when her Lady Catherine is annoyed at Napoleon, not for his impending threat to invade England, but for the inconvenience he has caused by too few men at her dinner table, or to the ribald humor of Georgette Heyer when Georgiana is stood up by Mr. Channing who invited her for a drive in his high phaeton through Hyde Park and is then quickly replaced by the waiting Mr. Gatley. When they encounter Mr. Channing driving another young lady, just as Mr. Gatley predicted, Georgiana is exasperated by Channing’s “sublime forgetfulness” and Mr. Gatley’s smug sagacity. Ha! Readers will recognize a bit of Mr. Knightley in Mr. Gatley and a combination of Austen’s slippery villain’s in Mr. Channing. Fairview understands Georgiana’s personality perfectly adding a few surprise twists to Austen’s shy, trusting young lady that gives her added depth and interest. Infused with humor, wit and a bit of social commentary Fairview has proven again why she was my top choice of Austenesque debut authors of 2009. She is well on her way to becoming a nonpareil in Austen paraliterature and I recommend The Darcy Cousins to those who dearly love a satisfying love story and a hearty laugh.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2010)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402237003

Additional Reviews

Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks, Inc. © 2010; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2010, Austenprose.com

Pride and Prejudice: “What sort of a girl is Miss Darcy?”

During the course of my merry internet travels, I happened upon this beautiful portrait of a young Regency woman and immediately thought of Miss Georgiana, the younger sister of Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The peaceful countenance and the shy repose is so gentle and demure, recalling the young Miss Darcy as she is eventually revealed in the novel. The portrait is of Kitty Packe, (nee Hort) painted by Sir William Beechey (1753-1839) circa 1818-1821. She married Charles William Packe of Prestwold Hall, Leicestershire in 1823. The painting now resides at the Oklahoma City Art Museum, though according to their website is unfortunately not on view. It is disturbing to think of Miss Georgian tucked away in some storeroom, not worthy of being on view to the public! This painting deserves a prominent position in a grand room in an English manor house. It saddens me to think that England’s national treasures are sold away from their heritage, and then not displayed. Well, now on to happier thoughts. 

And what sort of girl is Miss Darcy really like? The character of Georgiana Darcy is a bit of a mystery to the heroine of Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet, and the reader. From the very first volume of the novel Elizabeth hears reports of Miss Georgiana from various sources, favorable and otherwise depending who is telling the tale. When Elizabeth is staying at the Bingley’s residence of Netherfield Park during her sister Jane’s illness, we first learn in chapter eight of Miss Georgiana as she is mentioned in conversation with Mr. Darcy by Caroline Bingley and we given our first hints at her physical description. 

“Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?” said Miss Bingley; “will she be as tall as I am?”  

“I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s height, or rather taller.”  

“How I long to see her again! I never met with anybody who delighted me so much. Such a countenance, such manners! and so extremely accomplished for her age! Her performance on the pianoforte is exquisite.” 

This favorable description, mind you, is from a source that Elizabeth finds influenced by a desire to please Mr. Darcy rather than praise its subject. Later we hear a completely different story when Mr. Wickham describes Georgiana to Elizabeth in chapter 16. 

“What sort of a girl is Miss Darcy?” He shook his head. “I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy. But she is too much like her brother — very, very proud. As a child, she was affectionate and pleasing, and extremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and hours to her amusement. But she is nothing to me now. She is a handsome girl, about fifteen or sixteen, and I understand, highly accomplished. Since her father’s death, her home has been London, where a lady lives with her, and superintends her education.” 

Disparity of opinion is a theme that runs throughout the novel. Elizabeth is given two accounts of one event or person from two different sources. Which one will she believe? Is Miss Darcy as extremely accomplished as Miss Bingley touts her to be, or is she the very, very proud and forgetful childhood friend that Wickham wishes Elizabeth to find fault with, — as he does? 

So Miss Darcy remains in Elizabeth’s mind as proud and arrogant as her brother until a surprising dialogue with the Pemberley housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds in chapter 43, who shows Elizabeth a very different side to Mr. Darcy and his sister.  

“And is Miss Darcy as handsome as her brother?” said Mr. Gardiner.  

“Oh! yes — the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so accomplished! She plays and sings all day long. In the next room is a new instrument just come down for her — a present from my master; she comes here to-morrow with him.”  

Another opinion is presented that Georgiana is accomplished. Well, Elizabeth has heard this all before, holding her doubts in suspense for a bit longer until she has the pleasure of being introduced to Georgiana by her brother at the Inn at Lambton in chapter 44. She can now judge for herself and know the value of the two diverse opinions that she has been presented. 

Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good-humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Elizabeth, who had expected to find in her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcy had been, was much relieved by discerning such different feelings. The Narrator, Chapter 44 

As Austen turns the table of belief and disbelief for our heroine one more time, part of the mystery surrounding the true nature of Miss Georgiana is dispelled. Elizabeth who has been making judgments on people throughout the novel based on others accounts and opinions is now faced with the truth in her own eyes, and believes it. Georgina is not an acute and unembarrassed observer (proud and arrogant) as she supposed. Much to her (and our) astonishment, it is quite the contrary.

Further reading