Seven Years Later
by G.B. Stern
in
More About Jane Austen

Hardcover ( 1949)
Harper & Brothers Publishers



        Review by Linda Waldemar, November 15, 2000
In a book of essays about the characters that inhabit Jane Austen's six major novels, in one chapter, the author lets loose her fancy to imagine what has happened to several characters after seven years has passed since the novel's end.  She says:
Jane Austen's gift of creating characters that, once we know them, are forever a quick and not dead, has an inevitable consequence bequeathed us these characters in a Last Will and Testament of which oddly enough she was unconscious, though she signed it herself. For our fancy, restless and insatiable, will nt allow them to stay in place at the point where the author leaves them. She has less right than we have to speculate on their future state, for it is she, that teasing creature, who is responsible for planting an appetite that cannot be fully enough satisfied; . . . Useless to believe that fortune is so obliging as to slay such an amiable valetudinarian as Mr. Woodhouse, whose expectation of life, besides being proverbial in terms of a creaking door, is usually also of the longest duration, as any insurance company will testify.
Mrs. Elton discusses rumours of trouble in the Knightly marriage with Miss Bates.  For once, Miss Bates is silent as she will speak ill of her good friends, though she does try divert her to another subject by speaking of Jane and Frank Churchill and the Martins of Abbey Mill Farm. To no avail, however, as Mrs. Elton  continues to talk about what a terrible situation is it for Mr. K to have lived for seven years at Hartfield. In fact, he has returned to live at Donwell Abbey with the children.  Now he is in London visiting his brother, who is indisposed.  She does not believe that is the real reason for the visit.

Through conversations between Harriet Martin and Mr. Woodhouse, then Harriet and Mrs. Weston, we learn that things are less than perfect with the Knightleys.  Then, a death occurs that solves all their problems.