I am quite excited to be on the Blog Tour for What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean, so many thanks to Kelly from Love Books Group for setting it up and providing me with the chance to read this Pride and Prejudice continuation. You can find other book reviews, author interviews, and more by browsing the poster below and checking out everyone participating in this Blog Tour.
Thank you to Kelly [again] for sending me the ebook of What Kitty Did Next – you can preorder the ebook or paperback yourself, or wait for its release this Thursday, June 28th. As always, my thoughts in the below book review are all my own. Now let’s get into it.
England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation. When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected. However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too. Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.
In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen excelled in societal discourse, primarily surrounding two characters with well-established characteristics – Jane and Elizabeth. In What Kitty Did Next, Carrie Kablean successfully follows in Jane Austen’s footsteps when it comes to commentary on 19th Century societal norms and creating an enticing piece of literary fiction, but takes an extra step forward to create a Bildungsroman with Kitty Bennet at the forefront.
Carrie Kablean opens her novel with a scene reminiscent of the first in Pride and Prejudice, which is both indulgent and quite well done; it’s a strong start that sets high expectations – as if there weren’t any already – and fortunately those expectations are exceptionally well met throughout the story. The elder Bennet sisters are of course, married, and living away from Longbourn on their respective estates. Lydia Bennet, if you are interested in recalling, is living [estranged from her family] with her husband, George Wickham. Stuck at home with her parents and younger sister Mary, Kitty feels not only the pressure of being one of the last two sisters to be married (mostly thanks to her mother), but loneliness at the loss of her childhood companions who are now adult women with responsibilities.
Kitty does not have to feel this way for long; as the story progresses she is presented with excellent opportunities which allow her to understand the decorum expected in the society her older sisters are a part of, and she rather enjoys being a part of it, too. However, her growth is tested, and it takes unexpected circumstances more than conscious decisions to create the transformed Kitty Bennet at the end of the book.
Carrie Kablean writes so poetically and serenely; it’s almost like I’m reading Jane Austen herself, although the quickness of some of Kitty’s internal monologues and abruptness of some actions are unlike Jane Austen. This is not to say these things hinder the story; it’s quite the contrary, as Kitty and a handful of the other characters are a bit boisterous at times, which just adds weight to the Bildungsroman.
Wholesomeness, new beginnings, old prejudices, favorite (and not so favorite) characters; What Kitty Did Next is a story that will carry you pleasantly and indulgently through societal and personal trials, then before you know it, hurls you forth through tribulations and exhilarating, and often anxious, events that while satisfying, bring the story to a close far too quickly.
Author Carrie Kablean began her career in London, where she was born, and now lives in Australia. Arriving in Sydney in 1990 (via eight years in Papua New Guinea, during which time she edited the local newspaper on Bougainville), she was with The Australian newspaper for more than 20 years, and was, concurrently, a theatre critic for the Sunday Telegraph. Learn more about Carrie Kablean and preorder What Kitty Does Next by visiting her website [here].