First, the negatives. The book could have been a bit longer, it took me only a week to read it. Also, while I don't have a problem with Americans writing sequels to Austen, why oh why can't the authors make an effort by using British spellings if they have to go overboard on the flowery descriptive language (also a bit overdone)? This is the second Austen sequel I've read where I've been subjected to 'favor' 'color' and other Americanisms. Puts me right off!
As for the book itself, it's fitting that it tells Margaret's story as she grows up and enters society. She is the favourite of Mrs Jennings and her daughter Lady Middleton, whose children are always keen to have her around, and she becomes close with one of their guests, Lady Clare. Her sisters Elinor and Marianne are both happily married with their trials behind them, and although we see an insight into their new lives this is not overdone as this is all about Margaret now.
Willoughby doesn't come back to haunt Marianne, but he haunts Margaret because she fancied herself a little bit in love with him, too, and his actions have influenced her opinion in men somewhat. A bi-product of Willoughby's presence is the introduction of Colonel Brandon's ward Eliza and her young son, not there to make life uncomfortable for Marianne, who is fond of her, but to become a friend to Margaret. I was glad to see Mrs Ferrars coming back into Elinor's life as the old woman seems to have realised that, after settling her fortune irrevocably on her younger son Robert, she finds out he is wasting the fortune away. There's a certain satisfaction in thinking she's getting her just deserts. She makes an effort to get to know Elinor and her son Edward again - although they don't seem that keen. Knowing she can't settle back on Edward, her nephew enters the story, and the emphasis turns back to Margaret as he enters her life...
On the whole I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes sequels to the classics.
Brilliant book - almost as good as Sense & Sensibility; author references Sandition (I haven't read it, but I sort of know what it's about...people going to stay by the sea for their health), and I did look at how the book started. Is interesting to see what happens to Margaret, the youngest sister, and how her having had a crush on Willoughgy and feeling upset when he turned out to be such a total swine. Jane Austen never suggested she had a massive crush on him; Julia Barrett thought of that to explain Margaret's wariness of a guy she meets and is attracted to. She was hurt by Willoughy and knowing how ill Marianne was after he broke her heart, she saw at a young age how damaging falling in love with the wrong person can be.