Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott (Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge: August)

on August 28, 2013

pride-prejudice-bicentenary-challenge-2013-x-200It’s not often I get the chance to read a whole book in one sitting these days, but on Friday, after a busy morning and lunchtime entertaining friends who dropped in on their way further south, I found myself feeling a little under the weather and Southern Daddy offered to entertain the girls whilst I had a quiet rest (to be honest, I don’t know how much entertaining he did – they’re fairly self-sufficient so I suspect he sneaked off somewhere to fine-tune the sermon he was preparing for Sunday morning!).  I decided to use the time to make a start on Anna Elliott’s Georgiana Darcy’s Diary, which has been hanging around on my phone’s Kindle app for over 6 months now whilst I somehow keep finding other things to do, and ended up reading the whole way through before I was called upon to read a bedtime story!

I think I was a bit nervous of reading another tribute set in a contemporary time to Pride and Prejudice after my dislike of Darcy’s Story – you’ll see that everything since then has been an updated version in one way or another.  However, I very quickly got into this and I enjoyed it very much.

The story is told in diary form, as the title would suggest, and begins in April 1814, just over a year after the events of P&P come to an end (admittedly there are no dates in P&P itself, but Georgiana states that that amount of time has elapsed since Darcy’s marriage to Elizabeth).  It’s a light and easy read and concerns itself with the events over the course of five weeks or so, during a houseparty at Pemberley.  Peace has been declared, Darcy and Elizabeth are still enjoying married life, Caroline Bingley is still bitter and Lady Catherine de Bourgh is still attempting to dominate everyone around her.  “Aunt Catherine” has invited several eligible young (and less young) gentlemen to stay in the hopes of marrying off the 18-year-old Georgiana to one or other of them, and she’s not particularly bothered which one.  In the meantime, Georgiana is already in love and attempts, in turn, to avoid the attentions of some of her suitors, to force herself to fall for another, to forget the true object of her affections and to encourage her cousin Anne (daughter of Lady Catherine) to enjoy life a little more.

To add to the intrigue, there’s the arrival of a French aristocrat, recently restored to some of the fortune he left behind in his homeland and in search of an English estate to settle in, the young granddaughter of a local couple who is staying in the area and intending not to return home until she’s “engaged, at the very least” and the mystery of a missing necklace which creates conflict throughout the household.  The action culminates in a ball which is given in Georgiana’s honour at Lady Catherine’s insistence, and several matters come to head that even leading to a satisfying conclusion.

I felt that Elliott captured the spirit of a teenage girl’s diary very well, focusing on the typical romantic and somewhat self-centred concerns, and using the device cleverly to give background to the story by having the girl imagine that, although this is a personal diary, it might at some future time be discovered by “members of a future generation [who] will come across it one day in a musty old trunk and waste countless hours trying to puzzle out who everyone is.”  This means that the book can be read on its own, as well as being a sequel to P&P, since all the characters are described and explained.  The book also contains some line drawings which are referred to as Georgiana’s sketches, which I found interesting and quite natural for a diary.

At the same time the narrative shows Georgiana’s character developing, so that she’s able to overcome her shyness (without ever becoming too bold or rude) and develop more of a genuine concern for others which will enable her to become a respectable and sensitive woman.  There are several strands of dramatic irony, in which Georgiana herself is too innocent to interpret events which the reader will have no problem understanding, and whilst the eventual outcome is predictable, that doesn’t prevent the story from being enjoyable and there are still plenty of surprises in store along the way!

This is an enjoyable and undemanding sequel to Pride & Prejudice and I’d recommend it to those who enjoy Regency romance.  I can’t vouch for the authenticity of all the references and turns of phrase, but there was very little which felt uncomfortably out of place (the only phrase which springs to mind is smart aleck, which feels more modern – a google search reveals that its earliest known use was in the 1860s, so it is a little anachronistic, but not as much as I’d thought!).  If you have an e-reader or a Kindle app, the Kindle edition is available free.  I’m not sure I’m as keen to read the next in the series, however, partly because it’s priced at £3.08 and I generally try to stick to cheap or free Kindle editions, but mainly because it seems to be set at Waterloo and that doesn’t appeal as much.  One of the reasons I enjoy reading Austen’s novels, I think, is the small social microcosm they focus on, with no reference to anything particularly political or martial.  I am still stuck in the middle of Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army because of its inclusion of precise military detail so I’m not that excited about reading anything else set at Waterloo just yet!

My September choice for the challenge will be Lions and Liquorice by Kate Fenton.  I’ve never read any of her novels but I’m looking forward to being introduced to a new writer and, hopefully, a new seam of fiction to mine in my future spare moments!

Thankful for…

Time with many different friends over the Bank Holiday weekend (and our anniversary weekend – all anniversaries should be on a Bank Holiday Friday!)

The on-going beautiful weather which continues to astound and delight us

A surprisingly easy trip to town to buy school shoes yesterday – the Bookworm got shoes and trainers for less than half price each, the Butterfly was miraculously fitted with a pair of Clarks, meaning no trip to the expensive shop where they sell European shoes for people with tiny feet this year, it was all over in half an hour and we celebrated afterwards with milkshakes and waffles at a lovely 50s American-style diner we’ve “discovered” recently

The prospect of meeting a new friend tomorrow

The pleasure of spending time playing the piano, which I’ve neglected recently

Great news about the start of a new season at choir

What do you think? Let me know!

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