Monday, October 5, 2009

Old Friends and New Fancies - Sybil G. Brinton

Originally published in 1914, this charming and original sequel to the novels of Jane Austen intertwines the lives of the most beloved characters from all six Austen novels with new characters of the author's devising. Inventive matchmaking leads numerous pairs of lovers through the inevitable (and entertaining) difficulties they must encounter before they are united in the end.

I haven’t read that many Austen sequels yet but I have read a few and I am happy to announce that this one just became a favourite. It was interesting to learn that this story, written in 1913, was the first ever sequel to the Austen books and contrary to many being written today it combines the characters of the several novels.

There is much to love in the story, we revisit familiar characters who may or may not be old favourites, we have the restraint and manners of the Austen stories and we have the misunderstandings and thwarted love pairings that existed in every of the original books.

The main characters are Georgiana Darcy, Kitty Bennet, Mary Crawford and Colonel Fitzwilliam. But there’s also Lizzy and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Wentworth and Anne, William Price (Fanny’s brother), Tom Bertram, James Morland (Catherine’s brother) not to mention Knightley and Emma. We revisit them a few years after the original action and I must say that although I was in doubt throwing them all together would work the fact is that it made for a delightful story. It was really fun seeing how Emma and Lady Catherine de Bourgh continued to be the same characters, meddling in everyone else’s affairs and how all the others stay true to the idea I had of them. With the exception of Mary Crawford which is much improved.

When the story opens Georgiana Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam are engaged, however it's soon clear that none of them is too happy and the engagement is broken. While Fitzwilliam goes to Bath with Lizzy and Darcy where he meets Mary Crawford, Georgiana goes to stay with the Bingleys. She later goes to meet with her friend Kitty Bennet who is convinced (influenced by Emma Knightley) that William Price is about to make her a marriage proposal. Of course things are not as easy as they seem and some heartache will follow.

I think it’s best to read the Austen books before delving into this one because part of the enjoyment is definitely the fact that we are revisiting old characters, however it can be read as a standalone as the facts of the past that influence the story are explained in due course. What is perhaps lacking from the original is the witty dialogue; even Lizzy seems a bit tamer and more conciliatory towards Lady Catherine. The less sympathetic characters, Miss Steele and Mrs. Robert Ferrars are not given enough room to possibly engage in some more aggressive discourse but maybe that was a good thing because I really didn’t like them!

A very enjoyable read and highly recommended especially for Austen fans.

Grade: 4.5/5


Laura's Reviews October 5, 2009 at 5:17 PM  

Great review. I really need to read this book - it sounds great!

Ana T. October 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

I really hope you like it Laura!



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