Several authors have written “sequels” to Jane Austen’s works with sequels to Pride & Prejudice outnumbering those of her other works (based on what I have observed which is by no means a scientific method!). Mr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston is one such work.
Set in 1818, the novel follows the 5 Darcy daughters as they take London by storm when they come to stay with the Fitzwilliams (Darcy’s cousin) while their parents journey to Constantinople for a diplomatic mission. Ranging in age from 16 to 21, every personality type is represented by the girls. Alethea, 16, is a musical prodigy. Belle and Georgina, twins, are silly flirts. 21-year-old Letitia is bossy and pious despite her beauty. And 20-year-old Camillia is supposed to be the less pretty, clever, sensible one. With matrimony being Lady Fanny Fitzwilliams’ goal for the girls, mayhem and scandal ensue.
I should have known better. I had a feeling this book would not be very good, and it wasn’t. The characters weren’t very well drawn, and plot twists came out of nowhere and made no sense. Suddenly Sophie Gardiner is in love with some random guy with whom she barely spoke even though she seemed to be thoroughly attached to her fiance at the beginning of the book. Lady Warren (nee Caroline Bingley) hatches a plan with her stepson to ruin Camilla that seems to peter out or at the very least seems ludicrous when it does happen. And don’t get me started on the homosexual suitor. I thought the character and that part of the plot was very poorly handled. I appreciate that Aston was trying to insert a dash of scandal to the girls’ time in London, but it came off a little ridiculously and somewhat offensively to my 21st-century mind. The book had a few errors in it as well with regards to the Darcy daughters’ lineage and even calling a character by the wrong name.
The weirdest thing is that I felt like I had read the book before the entire time I was reading it. It was published in 2003, and I don’t think I had read it before. But so much seemed familiar. Maybe it was because so many of the characters and plots were taken straight out of P&P: annoyingly pious yet beautiful Letitia=Mary with a dash of Jane. Belle and Georgina are flirts=Lydia and Kitty. Camilla, the second daughter, isn’t as pretty as her older sister but clever and saucy = Elizabeth. Oh, unsuitable suitors who are not what they seem = Wickham. Haughty suitor = Mr. Darcy. Smarmy clerics = Mr. Collins. Yet another scandalous elopement from which Lizzy, er I mean Camilla’s lover along with Mr. Gardiner must help extricate the family. Gee, I HAVE read this book before, and it was much better when it was called Pride & Prejudice. I find it hard to believe that the Darcys could have had such silly, unlikeable daughters.
Unless you absolutely MUST read anything associated with P&P, you have my permission to skip this one.
Recommended (if you must): Carrie Bebris’ Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries. Fun and light-hearted so you don’t compare them endlessly with the originals.