Gambles and Gambols
A Visit With Old Friends
by Memoir
Jane Austen Books
309 pages 1983
Shelter Cove ISBN: 0935536310


        Review by Linda Waldemar, January 31, 1998
 This book has been advertised as the one including the largest number of Jane Austen's
characters.  Of the 18 sequels that I have read, it lives up to this claim.  Or, I should say, it
includes the names of more of JA's characters.  I was prepared for a fun read to try and
determine which characters were left out.  Unfortunately, the story was so uninteresting that it
soon became a chore.

The story starts with Edmund and Fanny Bertram going to Canterbury to a Convocation in order
to seek advancement in the Church.  All the other clergy characters also attend, for much the
same reason.  We meet Mr and Mrs Elton, the Ferrars, the Collinses, of course, Henry Tilney
and his unsophisticated young wife, the Right Reverend Mr Morland and his son the Reverend
Mr James Morland; then there is Reverend and Mrs James Hayter (his name in Persuasion was
Charles) and even a Reverend Mr Wentworth.  Tom Bertram accompanies his brother and
Fanny as the latter wants to find a wife for him (now, does that sound like Fanny to you?).

The route back  to Mansfield Park includes detours to Hunsford where we meet the Darcys, de
Bourghs, Fitzwilliam.  Then it is on to Highbury and a sighting of the Knightleys and Martins.
There is also an obligatory visit to Portsmouth.  Tom decides to stay there for a while when they
run into Mrs Grant and Mary Crawford.

Edmund and Fanny return home to learn that Sir Thomas has lost all his money.  Fanny,
accompanied by Augusta Elton, goes on an adventure to France seeking Aunt Norris and Maria
to get financial help for him.

The invalid Mrs Smith has become very wealthy by following the advice of the newly rich George
Wickham.

The plot of this book is excessively thin and uninteresting and implausible.  The characters have
very little development.  The big mystery is whether or not a wife will be found for Tom Bertram.
However, after only a few chapters, I did not care.  I would wager that  the author does not
reveal his/her name because she/he is ashamed of the final product.  If he/she is not, she/he
should be.

I do not recommend this book, other than to avoid it. 



        Review by Lynn Lamy, 11 February, 1999
This book was, indeed, a gamble, and it's a good thing I didn't have money on it!

The premise of sequel to Mansfield Park is that Edmund and FannyBertram travel to Canterbury for a clerical convocation.  Edmund is seeking to better his position in the Church, and hopes to meet up with someone at Canterbury who can give him some preferment.  Fanny reluctantly accompanies him, afraid of leaving her comfortable life at Mansfield.  Tom comes with them as well, for he has nothing better to do, and Fanny resolves to look around her for a wife for Tom.

Once in Canterbury, the plot rapidly becomes tiresome and thin. Every clergyman who has ever
been mentioned in a Jane Austen novel seems to be here, each of them looking for some
assistance in the Church, each hoping that every new acquaintance will be the person for whom
they are looking. The demeanor of everyone is what strikes the reader most.  Everyone seems to
be poor, unhappy, and tired. Not an uplifting story at all!

A round of visits begins, the Bertrams visiting first the Collins, who seem to have unruly children
(which I confess, I cannot picture Charlotte Collins having), then the Eltons, who live in a
parsonage with worn carpeting and barely enough money to cook food for them all. The
Bertrams make a stop in Portsmouth, just long enough to see that things haven't changed there in
twelve years, and then in Bath, for some amusement.

Arriving back at Mansfield, things go from bad to worse, both in the story, and plot-wise.  The
Dalrymples arrive, destitute, and Fanny somehow stumbles upon Edmund, Tom and The
Honourable John Yates half-naked in a pond.  Why this scene is so important to the story, I
cannot say, but the hairy chest of Yates lingers in Fanny's mind for the rest of the book.

I cannot justify the rest of the book with an explanation of its action. Suffice it to say, it does not
get better, no matter how patient you are. I would avoid this book, if you can! It is not worth
buying or borrowing, and it is hard to imagine how anyone even thought it would be worth
printing!