Mr. Darcy’s Daughter: The Pemberley Chronicles Book 5, by Rebecca Ann Collins – A Review

The Pemberley Chronicles Book 5, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2008)Cassy felt tears sting her eyes; she had always felt responsible for her young brother, especially because he had been born when everyone was still grieving for their beloved William. They had all treasured Julian, yet he did not appear to have grown into the role he was expected to play. There was a great deal to learn about running an estate, but Julian had shown little interest in it. Even as a boy, he had no talent for practical matters and relied upon their mother, herself or the servants for advice on everything. The Narrator, Part One, page 6

In Mr. Darcy’s Daughter, book five in The Pemberley Chronicles, author Rebecca Ann Collins’ focuses on Cassandra, the beautiful and intelligent daughter of Pride and Prejudice’s Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. It is now 1864 and Cassy has been happily married to Dr. Richard Gardiner for twenty seven years with a large family of her own. When her troubled younger brother Julian renounces his inheritance and fails in his responsibilities to his own family, Cassy must step forward and assist in the running of Pemberley and raise his son Anthony as the heir to the Pemberley estate. Bound by honor and duty, Cassy is indeed her father’s daughter, and accepts the responsibilities, balancing her role as daughter, wife, mother, sister and aunt. 

In the mean time Mr. Carr, a single man in possession of a good fortune enters the neighborhood looking to purchase a country estate, and sure enough he is immediately considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters! Cassandra soon discovers that this young American comes with a bit of a past in his family’s mysterious connection to the Pemberley estate prior to their immigration to Ireland. Cassy’s young daughter Lizzie is quickly drawn to him even though his grandparents came from the wrong end of the social ladder. Also included in this Victorian drama are an array of family travails and life events challenging Cassy and the whole Pemberley clan including mental illness, death, deception, theft and murder pressing the plot along. 

After reading Mr. Darcy’s Daughter there is no doubt in my mind that author Rebecca Ann Collins is an ardent admirer of Jane Austen, proficient at historical research and has a very creative imagination. Her most loyal fans deeply entrenched in the genealogy and historical minutia of the series will be well pleased to be at home again in her Pemberley universe being served “new wine in an old bottle.” However, new readers challenged with the multi-layered connections of three generations of families will find themselves frequently referring to the character list provided by the author in the back of the book as to which Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Gardiner, et all that she is referring to and how they are connected. I confess to needing clarification alot.

Aficionadas of Austen’s style will see more similarities to Victorian era authors such as Dickens, Gaskell or Trollope in her narrative approach, depth of historical references and sentimental dialogues than to the original inspiration. Even though Ms. Collins does take liberties with Austen’s usual limited scope of “three or four families in a country village,” she is true to formula in opening with a conflict and concluding with a happy marriage. After nearly sixty years since the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice, we can hardly expect more than the essence of Austen to remain and I understand the direction that the author has chosen. What has evolved from the happy day that “Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters,” in Pride and Prejudice is a circa 1860’s multilayered family saga that will interest classic historical fiction readers and satisfy Collins’ devoted fans. Jane Austen enthusiasts will find comfort in familiar characters respectfully rendered, miss the wit and humor of the original, and wonder how this can be classified as a continuation of Pride and Prejudice.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy’s Daughter: The Pemberley Chronicles Book 5
by Rebecca Ann Collins
Trade paperback, 292 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402212208

  • Read author Rebecca Ann Collins asks why revisit Netherfield Park?
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  • Read author Rebecca Ann Collins continued thoughts on sequels
  • Read reviews of Mr. Darcy’s Daughter
  • Purchase Mr. Darcy’s Daughter
  • Visit author Rebecca Ann Collins’ website

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Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for November 2008

Mr. Darcy's Daughter, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2008)The Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Austen inspired books are heading our way in November, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. Next month’s edition of upcoming releases of Austen-esque books will include my selections of Jane Austen inspired holiday gift giving suggestions, so please check back on December 1st.

Mr. Darcy’s Daughter: The Pemberley Chronicles Book 5, by Rebecca Ann Collins. The Pemberley Chronicles continue as author Rebecca Ann Collins carries on the saga of the children of the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s as she focuses on the daughter of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, the charming, beautiful and intelligent Cassandra. It is now 1864 and Cassandra Darcy must step forward and assist her family in the running of Pemberley after her willful brother Julian fails in his responsibilities as heir. “Mr. Darcy’s Daughter is the remarkable story of a strong-minded woman in a man’s world, struggling to balance the competing demands of love and duty as a daughter, wife, mother, and sister.” Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402212208 

The Lost Years of Jane Austen: A Novel, by Barbara Ker Wilson. Even though every reasonable attempt to discover information about the content of this book has been conducted, the Austen book sleuth is still stumped. So we shall call it the mystery Austen book of the month and make a wild guess that it is a reprint of Barbara Ker Wilson’s 1984 novel, Jane in Australia in which Jane travels to Australia in 1803 with her aunt and uncle the Leigh Perrot’s. Sorry if my hunch is off, but if publisher’s wont’ give a description on their web site or answer polite inquires, we are left to the mercy of a good surmise. Ulysses Press, ISBN: 978-1569756928 

Eliza’s Daughter: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, by Joan Aiken. Did anyone catch that steamy opening scene in the Andrew Davies adaptation of Sense and Sensibility last spring on Masterpiece? If so, you might guess the parentage of the heroine Eliza Williams, but since she could not, she has no notion of who her father is or how she is connectioned to the kindly man who is her guardian, Colonel Brandon. Intelligent, creative and free-spirited, Eliza makes her way to London and into some of the fine intellectual and artistic circles with poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge eventually traveling the world, all the while seeking to solve the mystery of her parentage. My only hope is that she takes cousin Margaret Dashwood along on the adventure! Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402212888 

Issues of Class in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: (Social Issues in Literature), edited by Claudia L. Johnson. Jane Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet was a middle class gentleman’s daughter and hero Fitzwilliam Darcy was from the upper-class landed gentry. Ever wonder why only the rumor of their engagement provoked Lady Catherine to say “Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”, and what it all meant? This book will definitely fill in the blanks with its numerous essays from prominent Austen and 18th-century scholars such as John Lauber, Marilyn Butler, Juliet McMaster, Emily Auerbach and Claudia Johnson. Written for high school level students, I am quite certain that older Janeites will find these insightful essays worthy of further study also. Greenhaven Press, ISBN: 978-0737742589 

Bloom’s How to Write about Jane Austen, by Catherine J. Kordich. The title of this one says it all, but here is my flip rhetorical question of the day. Since Jane Austen’s writing style is revered and worshiped by thousands (if not millions) including this blog mistress, who the heck would not want to know why her writing is so brilliant and be able to write about it??? Who indeed? I must confess that I could benefit from this book and hope to have a copy in hand shortly. Designed to help students (and blog mistresses) develop their analytical writing skills and critical comprehension, I know a few Austen friends who will smile at the title and snap it up in a heartbeat. Chelsea House (Facts on File, Inc.), 978-0791097434 

Life in the Country:  with quotations by Jane Austen and silhouettes by her Nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. Edited by Freydis Jane Welland and Eileen Sutherland, contributions by Maggie Lane and Joan Klingel Ray, afterword by Joan Austen-Leigh, designed by Robert R. Reid. Wow! The contributors to this book play out like the royal pedigree of Janedom! If you didn’t catch the connections, then I advise you to read the dust jacket flap. Suffice it to say, this is Jane Austen royalty rolling out the red carpet for our edification and enjoyment. The silhouettes are stunning, add to that well chosen Jane Austen quotes, a foreword from the editor, a family biography and an afterword by one of the creators of JASNA, and it does not get any better! Seek this one out and buy it. It is a gem. British Library, ISBN: 978-0712349857 

Until next month, happy reading to all! 

Laurel Ann