I welcome guest bloggers and I am happy to announce that my daughter and GM is my first guest. She read a book that she’s been raving about and wanted to share with others. I think you’ll really enjoy the review and may even become interested in reading the book yourself. I really think you’ll like Daphne’s writing style. I know I do. P.S. I may be just a tad biased – Mama Vicky
Darcy and Anne
By Judith Brocklehurst
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most popular novel. Generations of readers have flocked to said book to swoon wildly over Mr. Darcy; match wits with the feisty Elizabeth; gasp at Wickham’s tawdry ways; laugh at the matchmaking antics of Mrs. Bennet; and roll their eyes at the audaciousness of Mr. Collins. It’s a beloved classic novel chock-full of romance, drama, and tongue-in-cheek observations about the 1800’s that still resonate with many people today. It has been enjoyed by legions of fans the world over and will yet still be enjoyed by many to come. After all, who doesn’t love a happy ending wherein the romantic leads run off into the sunset together and the evildoers are banished to parts unknown?
Now, all that said, here’s where I shock you by admitting that Pride and Prejudice, or P&P as I call it, is actually not my favorite novel by Austen. No, I reserve that special space on my bookshelf for Mansfield Park and Persuasion. However, P&P is still an enjoyable novel for me. At least, it is intriguing enough that I occasionally seek out and read fan-created sequels and variations about the universe Miss Austen created. One such book I accidentally (and what a happy accident it was!) stumbled upon is the book I’m reviewing for you now (at the request of my very persuasive Mama).
Darcy and Anne, whilst featuring Mr. Darcy and his new bride Elizabeth, actually focuses the majority of our attention on the oft-overlooked Anne de Bourgh. Anne, you say? Does anyone even remember Anne? If not, I’ll refresh your memory for you. She was Darcy’s cousin, described only from time to time in P&P, and not in the most flattering of terms. She was frail, sickly, pale and homely, and her mother Lady Catherine would do just about anything to get Darcy to marry her. When that didn’t work out (obviously!), she was pushed into the background, hardly to be thought of or mentioned again.
Fortunately for us, the authoress of this novel, Ms. Brocklehurst, saw some value in Anne’s character and gave us this delightful story to read (and re-read! I am thinking of having a second go at it really soon!). Ms. Brocklehurst takes that weak, insipid Anne, and transforms her, bit by bit, into a heroine that even Jane Austen herself would probably like!
Darcy and Anne opens with a long letter (read: epistle) from Lady Catherine, written to Mr. Darcy, stating her intent to bring Anne to his estate of Pemberley so that Darcy can help her find Anne a suitable husband. She says (in old-fashioned, English terms, of course) that since Darcy passed Anne over for Lizzy, he is duty-bound to find her a respectable suitor with a title of baron, or earl, or such. Before Darcy even gets the letter though, Lady Catherine has already spirited her ill daughter off in a carriage and headed to Darcy’s house without invitation. But alas, Lady Catherine and Anne do not make it there completely unscatched. There is a carriage accident and Lady Catherine is injured. She is also suffering from a bout of food poisoning. Forced to seek help, Anne and Lady Catherine are waylaid on their journey and seek temporary asylum in a small-town where a doctor attends to Lady Catherine’s every woe. While Lady C. (oh, how she’d resent being called that!) is laid up, Anne is forced to learn to do things she has been completely kept from before: such as walk all by her lonesome and even go to the post office! That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but Anne has been terribly sheltered all of her life and her newfound autonomy (though frightening at first, no doubt) helps her see her own potential. Others see it too!
While in town, she meets the Caldwell family: made up of a gentle older man, his loving wife, and their generous and kind, if not very handsome son, Edmund. Edmund is not rich; he has no title or anything of that sort to recommend him — which means naturally that Anne falls in love with him (and he likewise with her)! Predictably, Lady Catherine refuses to even speak to the “low-born” man and now healed, she is more determined than ever to get Anne a husband “worthy” of their position. Will true love win out for Anne and Edmund or will Anne, who has blossomed wonderfully until the watchful eye of her cousin, his wife, and their friends and relatives, be forced back into the shadows to endure a life of loneliness, sadness and sickness? Those are questions you will only get the answers to if you read this book and I am saying it now: You should – no, you must – read this book! It’s one of the sweetest, most charming novels I have read in ages and ages.
I am giving Darcy and Anne 4 out of 5 stars. It would have gotten 5 stars from me except that there was a pretty preposterous turn of events near the end. Let’s just say that Lady C. does something I could never see her doing; something so out of character that I had to knock off one star! All that considered though, it’s still worth the read, so do check out Darcy and Anne as soon as you can. Even if you’ve never read P&P (what an appropriately shocking thought!), you’ll love this story and will be able to follow it very easily indeed. xoxoxo