Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mr Darcy's Dream - Elizabeth Aston

When Phoebe, a young niece of Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy, is shattered by an unhappy romance, she retreats to Pemberley and is joined by kind-hearted Louisa Bingley, unmarried after three London seasons. Once the young ladies are situated in the house, several handsome strangers also arrive -- all hopeful of winning the girls' hearts. As preparations for the ball which Mr. and Mrs. Darcy
are to give at Pemberley gain momentum, mischief and love triangles abound, making life as difficult as possible for anyone connected with the Darcy family.

There seems to be many Austen sequels around lately and I haven't read that many. A few years ago I read Elizabeth's Aston Mr Darcy's Daughters and had a nice memory of it so when I won this one at Jane Austen's Today I decided to give it a go. Mr Darcy's Dream is book 6 in a series that Aston wrote about Austen P&P characters. Although it's not mandatory to read the others before this one I think it would actually improve the reading if you did because the Darcy's and the Bingley's have so many daughters that it is a bit difficult to locate everyone at first. The book can be read as a standalone though.

It tells the story of Georgiana Darcy's, now Lady Hawkins, daughter Phoebe. Phoebe has fallen in love with a young man called Arthur Stanhope. Mr Stanhope loves in return but unfortunately he doesn't belong to the same political party as Phoebe's father and he does have a bit of a rakish reputation so Sir Giles Hawkins denies them permission to marry and makes Phoebe promise she won’t see him again. While upset at first Phoebe readily agrees after she sees him with the woman she believes to be his mistress.

Out of sorts and unhappy Phoebe is sent to Pemberley for the summer. The Darcy's are away but are planning a ball for their return and Mr Darcy leaves Phoebe to do all the organising. To keep her company she has Louisa Bingley, Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley's daughter, who after 3 seasons in London still hasn't found a man who interests her. In the house is also Mr Drummond, the man who is redesigning Mr Darcy's gardens, he is a close friend of Mr Stanhope who in turn comes to Derbyshire ostensibly to visit his sister but in fact to speak to Phoebe. Stanhope pursues Phoebe who tries to avoid him and Miss Bingley and Mr Drummond develop a fondness for each other while talking about plants and plotting to bring their friends together.

While I felt there was great potential in the book I think most of the tension is nonexistent due to the fact that there is never a confrontation between Phoebe and Stanhope about their feelings. Phoebe never explains to him that it is the fact that she saw him with another woman that disappointed her and not just her father’s orders. Since there was no real conflict it is just the story of his pursuit of her. I would have liked to see a bit more of Louisa Bingley's romance too as she was such a nice secondary character. The same goes for Stanhope's sister, I was glad that her problems were at an end but I would have liked to see a bit more of her and her thoughts.
Grade: 4/5

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