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 continuing 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? She doesn't like me. Why do they treat me like a child? 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 every want her from more than her dowry?
Originally self-published in 2008 as AND THIS OUR LIFE: CHRONICLES OF THE DARCY FAMILY, this sequel has had a major rewrite from its original release. Overall this debut novel is still the sweet story that I had remembered due to Pierson's affable, easy-going style and choice of chaste material. Besides Austen's canon characters, the Darcy's social sphere has expanded to include Colonel Fitzwilliam's parents Lord and Lady Whitwell, a new amiable neighbor Sir Robert Blake, and a few villains thrown in for good measure, ner' do well Jonathan Walker, dissolute George Lewis Winslow Fitzwilliam, Viscount St. George, and the gold digging Comte de Tourney. The pacing was still sluggish through the first 125 pages as not much conflict was presented beyond Georgiana's internal struggles. I would like to have seen more development of the antagonists throughout the entire novel and not just presented in the second half of the story. However, it was rewarding to see Georgiana develop from an anxious teen to a confident young woman with a lovely romance of her own. As gentle natured and accomplished as Miss Darcy herself, his new novel will charm Austen purists and leave them craving more.
I bought "And This Our Life" a couple of years back as the result of good reviews, and thoroughly enjoyed it. As the book was sub-titled, "Chronicles of the Darcy Family: Book 1," I decided to keep an eye out for any sequels. As a result, when I saw "Mr Darcy's Little Sister," I thought it must be Book 2, and the blurb written about it gave me the impression that although there might be some temporal overlap between the books, this one would be focusing more on Georgiana than the previous one's fairly even spread between her and Elizabeth and Darcy. So yay! New story! I pre-ordered it immediately.
Unfortunately, when I got the book this morning, I discovered that it is "And This Our Life" under a new title and with a much nicer cover. Given that Georgiana isn't the sole focus of the book, I'm not sure why the new title was felt necessary.
I'm thoroughly disappointed that I don't have a new book to add to my collection - and I've wasted £6 on a book I already own. Having said that, I'll probably keep it and donate the older one to a charity shop rather than go through the hassle of returning it because... well... better cover!
I've given it four stars because the book itself is very good, and shouldn't have to suffer for the bad information written about it.
This is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, superior to most and vastly superior to some. It is very readable and does not try to blind you with its research into the period. A previous reviewer has mentioned it is a bit slow to get going. I should have liked more of Miss Bingley and Lady Catherine, and for them to be more horrible, but you can't have everything. There are a few Americanisms in the language (at least I assume the author is from the US) but she generally knows her stuff. Only one solecism as far as I can see - the Prince Regent is addressed as "Your Majesty", a title belonging to his father George III at this time - in Britain only the reigning monarch can be called Majesty. The Prince was ruling but not reigning and was addressed as "Your Royal Highness". At least he was in a printed loyal address to him which I have seen.
I was recommended this book by someone who knew my enjoyment of reading "sequels" to Pride and Prejudice and I was not disappointed. This is a great read showing the tale of Elizabeth and Darcy through the eyes of his little sister, Georgiana, together with her dream of obtaining a love like theirs for herself. Well worth reading for anyone who enjoys reading the "sequels" and I would certainly highly recommend it.