Paperback - 131 pages 1
New Ark Productions; ISBN: 0965914704
It appears to me that the author intended that this be a fun read. And, I think that she succeeded quite well, indeed. Most everything about this book is light; the size, the character development, the tone. But, it is light and pleasing.
The story takes place 26 years after the marriage of William Collins to Charlotte Lucas. They have five surviving, adult children. The youngest, 17-year old Eliza, meets, enraptures and falls in love with Henry Darcy, younger son of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. It is easy to imagine that this Charlotte is an older version of Charlotte of P&P. She is a dutiful and efficient wife and mother who manages her husband and looks out for the welfare of her children.
Also present in the novel are the Darcys and Jane Bingley and Caroline Bingley. The character of Darcy and Lizzy and Caroline seemed quite plausible to me. I was a little unsure of Jane, however.
The Darcys give a ball for their daughter, Juliet's, 19th birthday. Most of the guests are the offspring of JA characters. There are Christopher and Colin Knightly, Alexander and Paul Wentworth, Charlie Musgrove, Priscilla and Frederick Tilney, Gerard Churchill, Dorothea Brandon; Claudia and Sophia Bertram (Tom's), Alice Bertram (Fanny's) and their cousins, Pamela and Angelica Yates, Catriona and Torquil Fitzwilliam and Walter William Elliot. Some of these children are much like parents; Selina Ferrars, daughter of Robert and Lucy, is described as a vengeful social climber, while her cousin, Nell Ferrars has a sweet and modest manner. The Collins' are invited because of Henry Darcy's interest in Eliza. Mr Collins must stay behind, to the relief of everyone, because of gout. The two elder daughters are visiting friends in Sanditon. The eldest Collins son, William, is the Vicar of Highbury and is married to Eugenia Elton. Therefore, Charlotte is only accompanied by her younger son, 22 year old Jonathon and Eliza.
The action includes an intrigue that occurs at the cotillion. But, all ends well and several proposals occur. The senior Darcys end the evening with a waltz together and appear to be as much in love as they ever were. Charlotte handles a surprising occurrence to the benefit of her children, who seem to be getting their heart's desires.
Charlotte is a character that I always admired and I enjoyed reading about how her life might have progressed within her loveless marriage.
I recommend that you give this book a read. Start with an excerpt from CONSEQUENCE.
Well, I finally read the whole thing last night (it's just a novella, a little over a hundred pages) and found much charm that the excerpts don't reveal.
For one thing, the central event, a ball given at Pemberley for two of Darcy and Elizabeth's children, is just a hoot because the children of most all the other novel's main characters are invited. And each have inherited some of their parents' traits. The Betrams, Wentworths, Knightleys, Brandons, Ferrars and others are all there in the same room. Even Sanditon gets a mention. And Caroline Bingley is up to her old tricks of interfering with romance.
It's a sweet light story, but I think what I enjoyed about it the most is author Eliza Newark's handle on the characters -- especially Charlotte and Lizzy, but all of them really. You can tell she loves the characters and knows them, just like we do, or think we do.
Here's an example.
Charlotte Collins led her son and daughter into the ballroom, her back straight and her head held erect as she had taught herself to stand when dealing with Lady Catherine -- her chin not high (that would have invited a put-down), and not low (the humble aroused the bully in her ladyship).
Excerpt from CONSEQUENCE.
Several years later, the Darcy's youngest son, Henry, stops at Longbourn on his trip home from university, deciding to meet some of his little-known cousins. What he finds there intrigues him, for it
is none other than young Eliza Collins. Henry manages it so that the Collins and their children are invited to the ball being given at Pemberley in a few weeks' time. He longs to see Eliza again, and Elizabeth Darcy is scarcely less anxious to see her dear friend Charlotte again. All the parties concerned are relieved when Mr. Collins is persuaded to stay at home at Longbourn to nurse his recent attack of gout.
What transpires at this ball changes all their lives forever. The Darcy's only daughter Juliet stumbles on her trip toward adulthood, Henry and Eliza come to know each other better, and the Bingley and Darcy families seem to be on their way to becoming more closely related. But it is Charlotte Collins' life who is changed the most drastically by this trip to Pemberley, in a secret she carries alone.
This was a delightful book. It was a quick read, but a most pleasurable one, with all the characters acting just as one would suppose. Charlotte is patient, but firm, Mr. Collins is obsequious, Elizabeth is arch but loving, and Jane is patient and kind. The children of these characters are a delight as well. Juliet is a spoiled young woman, as an only daughter of the Darcy's could well turn out. Eliza is a delightful blend of Charlotte's quiet manner and Elizabeth's playful nature, and Henry is an eager, intelligent young man.
The book is full of great quotes: About Charlotte, "Her method of dealing with Mr. Collins was always to ascribe to him the principles and virtues she wished he possessed." Hence: "'You, with your natural kindness and condescension...'" Newark seems to understand exactly what drives Jane Austen's characters and how they should act. She also creates characters who mesh well with the society Jane Austen had already created.
This book is well worth looking for, even obtaining. I enjoyed it immensely, which is more than I can say for many of the Jane Austen sequels I've read!
It's rather predictable, but certainly not without merit. My favorite aspect - it portrays the Lizzie/Darcy marriage, after 25 years, as one that is still full of love, admiration, and passion, just as I have always pictured it would turn out! On a scale of 1 - 10, 8 (published rather cheaply, but does have some nice old illustrations).
The book is not meant to be taken too seriously and is written purely for pleasure as the author tells us upfront.
Very pleasant reading.