Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Darcys Give a Ball - Elizabeth Newark

While Jane and Lizzie plan a lavish ball at Pemberley, the Darcys' second son falls in love with the Collins' daughter, first-born Juliet Darcy is almost lured into an elopement, and Georgiana's timid daughter Lucy is the new target of Miss Caroline Bingley's meddling.

The Darcys Give a Ball is a charming and very amusing imagining of the next generation of Jane Austen's beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice and other novels, where all the young people come together for a surprising and altogether satisfying ending. Sons and daughters share the physical and personality traits of their parents, but of course have minds of their own, and as Lizzie says to Jane: "The romantic attachments of one's children are a constant distraction."

As usual I picked this one up with a mix of great expectations and dread. The first because it is always nice to revisit the characters of our favourite stories, and the second because sometimes these sequels totally ruin them. Although that doesn't happen here I guess it's more because this novel is more about the Collins family than Elizabeth and Darcy.

The story takes place about twenty five years after the end of Pride and Prejudice. The Darcys, the Bingleys and the Collinses - not to mention the Brandons, the Wentworths and other Austen characters - now have adult children who are making their way into society.

The beginning of the story tells us about the life Charlotte Lucas has been leading since she married Mr. Collins. She produced a number of children, has made the best of her situation and has kept in touch with Elizabeth Darcy although they are not regular visitors of each other’s house for obvious reasons.

When an invitation arrives for a ball at Pemberley, Charlotte is naturally ecstatic for this opportunity to revisit an old friend and Mr. Collins is even more so. Never having been invited before this seems like a dream come true but unfortunately an illness prevents him from attending. That's how Charlotte finds herself a guest at Pemberley with her two children - Jonathon and Eliza. The two youngest Collins are the main characters of this story, at Pemberley they meet Elizabeth's offspring, namely her son William and her daughter Juliet. Eliza and William immediately strike up a friendship but Juliet seems, sadly, like a really disagreeable young girl.

The second half of the story is about the ball and all the events surrounding it. The guests include a lot more Austenesque characters but we don't really get to know them well as the plot centers around the Collins and Darcy children and their romantic attachments. It's a light and fun read perfect to spend an afternoon with!

Grade: 4/5

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