The Reluctant Baronet
by Jane Gillespie
Paperback - 428 pages largeprint edition (April 1999) 
Thorndike Pr (Largeprint); ISBN: 0786217014
Paperback (July 1999) 
Chivers P; ISBN: 0754035956

        Review by Linda Waldemar,  July 3, 2000
The Reluctant Baronet is Tom Bertram.  The action begins when Sir Thomas Bertram dies, which
is 15 years after Mansfield Park.

Tom has moderated his  wild ways, however, he is still primarily interested in life's pleasures.
Suddenly he finds that he needs to make decisions about his West Indian properties and other things
on the estate.

Susan Price is now 30 and has become invaluable to the family.  She had helped the senior Sir
Thomas to run the estate and Tom relies upon her for sound advice.  Lady Bertram cannot do
without Susan, of course. The Honorable John Yates is involved with the theatre.  He and Julia have
a 16 year old daughter, Decima, and a younger son, Mortimer, who is at school.

I feel that Jane Gillespie has done an adequate job of portraying JA's supporting characters.  Her
development of them is quite plausible.  Besides Tom, Susan, Lady Bertram, Julia and John Yates,
she has raised Maria's rejected husband, Mr. Rushworth, to major character status.  Along with the
introduction of Decima Yates, there is another new character.  Caroline Blake is single-minded and
no nonsense and likable.

This is a very quick and pleasant read.  I found myself really enjoying the early part of the book.  As
it progressed, I was not as satisfied with the development of the plot.  However, al's well that ends

If you want  a pleasant diversion, give this book a try.

        Review by Reba White Williams, July 24, 2000
 This amusing novel takes place when Susan Price, who arrived at Mansfield Park when she was
fourteen, is thirty, and when, following the death of his father, Tom Bertram has become the
"reluctant baronet" of the title.  His mother, the widowed Lady Bertram, is Gillespie's best
characterization; she is very true to Austen's character, and her conversation, full of non sequiturs, is
delightfully vague, self-centered, and inconsequential.

Fanny Price and her husband do not appear, but are mentioned as the "younger brother, in orders,
happy in the Mansfield parsonage with his demure little wife," and Julia, happily married to John
Yates, and much improved in disposition, has two children, Decima and Mortimer.  Maria is "living
abroad," but her former husband, James Rushworth, now 40, is a major character, and proves that,
as in most Austen novels, almost any man can find a wife!

A good read.