Sisters Eliza and Charlotte - daughters of clergyman Mr Collins of Pride and Prejudice fame now the impoverished Bishop of Ripon - are in London so that Charlotte can attract a rich husband. Charlotte is a beautiful ice maiden and soon attracts many suitors. Eliza is less beautiful and of a far less biddable disposition and has been sent to London to keep her out of the way of the local Squire's son because they have formed an unsuitable attraction.
Eliza is not impressed by her sister's social success though she finds London an interesting place and soon starts to enjoy herself and meet some fascinating people. Those readers who have followed this series of novels will be pleased to meet old friends such as Pagoda Portal and Mrs Henrietta Rowan and Camilla Wytton and her husband.
But there is a return of a villain in the form of unpleasant George Warren who is determined to prevent the marriage of Charlotte to his Uncle the Marble Marquis. Eliza meanwhile has attracted the attention of banker Bartholomew Bruton who seems to know more about her than is quite comfortable. The book is an excellent read for those who like Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Elizabeth Aston's characters are always interesting and spirited and refuse to be bound by convention. The dialogue is sparkling and the plot intriguing. One of the best in this series in my opinion.
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While I would not count Elizabeth Ashton's latest, "The Darcy Connection" as an example of her very best work, I'd have to admit: it really is a charming and enjoyable read.
"The Darcy Connection" follows the fortunes of Mr. Collins' two daughters, Charlotte and Eliza, as they navigate their way through a merciless London season. Both Charlotte and Eliza are of marriageable age; however Mr. Collins, now Bishop of Ripon, has not the means to secure either of his daughters a desirous match. Fortunately for Charlotte at least, her wealthy godmother is willing to sponsor a London season for her, sure that her extraordinary beauty will ensure her a brilliant match. Headstrong Eliza however accompanies her sister not because an equally brilliant match is expected for her so much as to remove her from the sphere of a smitten suitor whose parents oppose of their son's attachment to Eliza. Defiant, Eliza is resolved to show no interest in London swains and fashions -- that is until a dismissive remark from a certain gentleman causes her to rethink her stance...
While quite the enjoyable and delightful read, Elizabeth Ashton did reuse many plot motifs and devices from previous novels -- like beautiful but remote elder sisters, and heroes who seem to disapprove of the heroine and who make initial cutting remarks that they later live to regret. So really, there was nothing terribly original or unique about "The Darcy Connection." On the other hand, it was a well crafted novel, full of thoughtfully depicted characters, that made for an absorbing and compelling read. So that even though I personally wished that Charlotte had been less of a cipher and that she had figured more vitally into the story at hand; and even though I thought that there was a missed opportunity not to have included Mr. Collins more into the plot, I will say that "The Darcy Connection" truly was a charming and delightful read.
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