“Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”
Ooh. Aah. This is a vintage sequel, the second Pride and Prejudice spin-off ever published… It came out in 1949!
Back to our feature presentation: Pemberley Shades.
What a delightful book. The language feels quite authentic and the story is imagined really well, which is believable since its author was a clergyman’s daughter who grew up (with a governess) in Victorian England, and lived out her days as a single woman living with her family- as had Jane Austen herself.
~I’m excited to share with you an excellent blog post I discovered about the story of this story, especially it’s recent republication!
On to the story itself…
Things are not always what they seem. Least of all, people.
This photo of the Derbyshire countryside (where our story takes place), seen through the mist, really captures our novel’s tone; trying to get a clear view through a screen of lies…
So, we begin just a few years after the end of Pride and Prejudice… at Pemberley (the famous Darcy family estate) with Elizabeth and Darcy; happily married parents of young Richard (their cute, but somewhat spoiled son and heir.) Darcy’s musically talented younger sister, Georgiana, is still single and so living at home with the happy couple.
As their local rector has recently passed away, Darcy is on task to fulfil his responsibility of choosing and providing a new one to preach and minister to his tenants. He’s determined to avoid having the unbearable Mr. Collins foisted upon them all by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who has a hate on for her former favourite.
In the meantime his friendly neighbour Robert Mortimer of Clopwell Priory has been kindly filling in at the pulpit. But alas, in spending so much time at Pemberley, he finds himself infatuated with Georgiana. Which is sad for him, as she does not return his sentiments.
In the nick of time, Darcy receives a recommendation for a clergyman who sounds like just the ticket. Enter Mr. Stephen Acworth. And this is where the plot thickens.
I don’t want to spoil the book for you, so I’ll now become a little vague (to match the thickening plot.)
We are treated to a letter from Mr. Collins, and extended visits by several amusing characters from the original cast; including Lady Catherine De Bourgh and her poor daughter Anne (who seems to have had enough of her domineering mother), the hopelessly good-natured Jane with her beloved Bingley and their children, as well as Elizabeth’s somewhat reformed younger sister Kitty, their mildly eccentric father, and the all-around wonderful Aunt Gardiner.
“Sound principles are not always found in conjunction with a sweet temper, a superior understanding and elegant manners, but Mrs Gardiner possessed all these attributes and more besides.”
The ‘lightly gothic’ tension in the plot of Pemberley Shades reminds me of Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen’s slightly spoofy Gothic drama.)
So whet your lips for some thrillingly awkward, even frightening scenes deep in the shady woodlands, some shockingly improper behaviour by those who should know better, and some downright satisfying (if surprising) romantic entanglements!
I’m sure any fans of Jane Austen (and her entourage of follow-on novels) will enjoy this book as much as I did.
Which other Austen-esque ‘sequels’ or ‘alternate endings’ have you read, and which would you recommend?
Thank you for reading with me,