Jane Fairfax
by Naomi Royde Smith

MacMillan & Co. LTD, London 1940


        Review by Linda Waldemar, July 27, 1998
This is not a retelling of some of the story of Emma from Jane's point of view, but a story about
the Campbell family.  It opens in 1799 when Euphrasia Campbell and Jane Fairfax are nine years
old, but ends at the same time as Emma.

It is written in three books.  The first is a little slow, but develops the main characters.  Colonel
George Campbell is good-hearted, very social, pleasure seeking and sometimes careless.  Mrs.
Emmeline Campbell is very kind, wise, practical and proper.  They love their daughters dearly
and are always seeking to do what is best for them.  Euphrasia is nine months older than Jane
Fairfax, her foster sister.  She is good-tempered, fanciful and loving; more like her father in
temperament. Jane is intelligent, quiet, studious, proper; just about perfect.  In the first book, the girls are fifteen.

The Campbells are aquainted with many of the characters from each of Jane Austen's completed
novels.  They are spoken of more often than present.  Whatever we hear of them seems familiar.
I think that the author has a good understanding of Austen's work.  The language is quite good,
but JA's wit and irony are missing.  I wonder about the time frame and the ages of the other
characters in relation to Jane and the years that are set forth.

Book Two opens when the girls are twenty and are "out"; it must now be 1804-5.  Euphrasia
falls in love frequently, but her feelings are not long lasting.  Jane is also popular, but she is more
reserved.  In fact, she refuses an offer from Tom Bertram, who is "some years her senior".
Euphrasia imagines herself in love with Henry Crawford, "who encouraged her high spirits",  until
he elopes with Maria Rushworth.

Euphrasia meets Frank Churchill one evening when she attends a ball without Jane.  We then
learn that the senior Campbells are acquainted with the Churchills.  The two families begin to
have some social discourse.  Although Euphrasia's fortune is not very great, Mrs Churchill feels
her a suitable match for Frank since the Colonel is distantly connected to royalty.  Mrs Churchill
is overbearing, snobbish and manipulative.  However, when they meet, Jane and Frank are
instantly attracted to one another.

William Dixon saves Jane from being washed overboard when John Thorpe causes the boat on
which they are all sailing to rock.  This, and his pleasant personality endears him to the
Campbells.  He is immediately attracted to Euphrasia and she soon comes around.  They become
engaged and Frank proposes to Jane.  Of course their engagement must remain secret because
of Mrs Churchill.

Book Three parallels the story of Emma.  It is told through a series of letters between Euphrasia
and Jane, Frank and Jane, Mrs Campbell and Jane.  Only a few of the incidents in Emma are
reported; the pianoforte, the ball.  The final letter is from Mrs Elton to her sister, Mrs Suckling,
describing the recent weddings; Martins, Knightleys, Churchills.

I enjoyed this book very much.  It starts a little slowly, but is a very pleasant read.  I think that it
is successful because the author only develops the minor characters.  The major characters are
only mentioned so their treatment will generate few complaints.

This novel has been out of print for a long time.  I got it through Interlibrary Loan.  Should you
encounter it, I recommend that you read it.