MR. DARCY'S DAUGHTERS

Elizabeth Aston, Author . Touchstone $14 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4397-1

This sequel to Pride and Prejudice from first-time novelist Aston reads more like a beach book for historical fiction fans than a literary homage to Austen's masterpiece. The novel is set in 1818, when Mr. and Mrs. Darcy (née Elizabeth Bennett) have gone on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople and left their five daughters in London with Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and his wife. Bossy Letitia and rebellious Camilla, the two eldest girls at 21 and 19, look forward to London's social whirl; the youngest, 16-year-old Althea, has an opportunity to study voice with an Italian master musician; and 17-year-old twins Georgina and Belle can't wait to flirt and break hearts. But the young country ladies "need to keep their wits well about them" in the city; pitfalls abound, suitors come calling and soon the Darcy girls—especially the mischievous Camilla, who "had too much of a sense of humour, too witty a tongue and too clever a mind"—are raising eyebrows and incurring the censure of some powerful Londoners. Aston attempts to imitate Austen's style, with little success—the prose is stilted and anachronistic ("it would be very fortunate if we were to find a suitable young man for Letitia. To help her get over Tom's loss, you know, and give her thoughts a new direction"). The daughters' personalities are drawn in broad, predictable strokes, and the romantic plot feels contrived and overly drawn out. Despite the curiosity factor, even Austen fans will likely give this a miss, perhaps turning instead to Emma Tennant's superior Austen sequels (Pemberley, etc.). (May)

Reviewed on: 04/14/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-2095-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-5012-5743-8
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4165-4869-0
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