Georgiana Darcy: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Georgiana Darcy: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was published on July 16th, 2018. The author provided me with a copy of the book, but all thoughts are my own.
With her temptingly large dowry, the beautiful and talented Georgiana Darcy catches the eye of numerous suitors, not all of whom wish to marry purely for love. As Georgiana navigates the treacherous waters of courtship, her story becomes intertwined with that of Anne de Bourgh, her wealthy but painfully awkward cousin, who stirs up trouble when she sets her sights on a young gentleman with a rank far below her own. In so doing, Anne encounters the opposition of her proud and domineering mother, the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and sets in motion a chain of events that brings a damaging secret to light and threatens to destroy Georgiana’s dreams of happiness. Intrigues, gossip, and elopements further complicate Georgiana’s efforts to find love and avoid the snares of fortune-hunters.
Written in a sparkling, witty, humorous style on par with Jane Austen’s own in Pride and Prejudice, Alice Isakova’s Georgiana Darcy continues the tale that has delighted readers for over two centuries.
Returning to the characters from Pride and Prejudice was exciting, especially in a book written as a sequel rather than an adaptation. As the synopsis says, we primarily spend time with Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh as they navigate society, and in the latter’s case, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s restrictions. There’s also a great deal of Mrs. Darcy, a smattering of Mr. Darcy and the Bingleys, as well as a couple appearances by the Bennets and one or two other characters from Pride and Prejudice. The rest of the cast is made up of new characters created by author Alice Isakova, offering the perfect amount of connection to Jane Austen’s book while giving this sequel its own legs on which to stand.
The focus on Georgiana Darcy, Anne de Bourgh, and a slew of new characters allows this Pride and Prejudice sequel to be fit for readers unfamiliar with Jane Austen’s work. The pacing can feel a bit quick and abrupt when new characters are introduced, but Alice Isakova gives them all a purpose, which makes it more fun and worthwhile to keep track of them.
Industry and technological advancement have a place in the world of these many characters, as do charitable giving and class structure, changing opinions on marriage obligations and gender roles, and science and medicine. These are topics that cannot and should not be avoided in a period novel like this, but in this case the potential for analytical discourse hit hard before falling flat.
For example, there is an explanation about how new inventions in the wool and clothing industry are leading to factories laying off workers in order to cut costs. The information is put forth in a pleasant way, but it was quite close to reading like an encyclopedia and not a paragraph in a work of fiction. With the amount of historical background it seemed like this would play a bigger part later on, but instead it was left behind and not mentioned again. In another instance, towards the middle of the book, there are a couple of conversations about natural remedies and chemical remedies used in medicine, with the very obvious conclusion that while chemical remedies were more readily available, natural remedies led to less dependency and poor side effects. These were great moments, but again, they were fleeting. It almost seemed like the author had a list of themes she wanted to address and checked them off one by one rather than sorting out a way to thoroughly incorporate them into the story.
Furthermore, each chapter began to feel a bit methodical as the end drew near. Part of the appeal of Jane Austen’s writing is that her scenes build anticipation while taking the time to build the characters and scenes. In Georgiana Darcy, the chapters seemed quite methodical and agenda-driven, and while there were delightful moments of angst and shock and foreshadowing, they were flattened by a hurried pace and too-tidy conclusions.
There were exciting moments of sexual tension – I think I held my breath during the scene in which Georgiana and Sir Matthew Leigh danced the scandalous waltz – and romantic anticipation, as well as deviously frustrating characters and a satisfying ending. And as a Pride and Prejudice fan, it was fun to pick up on inverted and/or adapted quotes like: “‘What makes you think that my aim is to marry a woman with a large fortune?’ ‘Is it not the aim of every man in our situation? Every sensible man, at least?'” I only wish I could have been more deeply immersed into the fictional story as a reader, rather than playing the role of a student learning about history through the lens of a romance.