This is a relatively short story comprised of two letters. The
author of these letters is a Lady Anne
Sefton (Wife of Admiral Sir Charles Sefton). She is writing to her friend Sophia. (Persuasion
reference?) The year is 1814, so E. Barrington is using the conceptual date of Sense and Sensibility
(most likely) as her starting point.
The first letter deals with the Admiral's and Anne's arrival in Hunsdon
(NOT the correct Hunsford),
Kent. Her friend from girlhood, Marianne Dashwood Brandon, had already moved into the
neighborhood (after the death of Elinor) and recommended it to Anne. The Darcys have inherited
Rosings on the death of both Lady Catherine and Anne.
As the author says in the preface "I have not dared to touch her save
as a shadow picture in the
background". I think though, that the author has both Darcy and Elizabeth in character, for the most
part at least, as well Marianne and the Colonel and the minor characters. I was not thrilled with her
Lydia, though. Barrington seems to confuse being vulgar with a vulgar way of speaking.
In the first letter, we learn that along the way to Kent, Anne and the
Admiral have run into Lydia and
Wickham at an inn. Lydia makes a bad impression and Anne is nervous about meeting Elizabeth
Darcy, for fear she will be as vulgar as her sister.
The first people to visit Anne and the Admiral are Mr. Collins and Charlotte.
Darcy and Elizabeth
arrive the next day. One line, describing Elizabeth reads that Elizabeth "has the peculiar grace of one
whose eyes smile smile in harmony with her lips." As Darcy and Elizabeth leave Anne's house, they
run into Charlotte and Caroline Darcy, the daughters of the family.
Finally, they are visited by Col. Brandon and Marianne. Marianne
relays the news that Willoughby's
son has just arrived from India (where Willoughby went after spending his wife's money) and will be
coming to visit. The Colonel is not thrilled with prospect, but has agreed to introduce the young man
into the neighborhood.
In the second letter, we learn that Darcy invited Young Willoughby (and
his servant, Tippoo) to
Rosings, to help catalog a collection of Indian artifacts given to him by his uncle, Lorenzo Darcy.
Young Willoughby and Charlotte Darcy seem to get along very well. When both of them disappear,
an elopement is feared.
Darcy and Col. Brandon go off searching for the couple. It turns
out that Young Willoughby has
actually died of fever in the past year. The masquerader is actually one of Willoughby's illegitimate
sons. The other is the servant, Tippoo, who dyed his skin darker.
The illegitimate young Willoughby has kidnapped Charlotte D in an attempt
to compromise her, so
that they must marry and he will get his hands on her inheritance. On the way to Gretna Green, they
stop at an inn. Wickham and Lydia are their. Charlotte pleads for help, and Wickham draws his
sword on Fake Willoughby, who then runs away. Charlotte is rescued. Wickham speeds
to Rosings to deliver the news.
Wickham is thus forgiven all past sins and is welcomed at Rosings for a visit.
Other than the ending, I liked the story. It was a quick, fun
Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh have passed on and the Darcys have
inherited Rosings. They
spend half the year at Pemberley and half in Kent; their daughters prefer the warmer Kent weather.
The Collins' still inhabit the parsonage. The Seftons are moving nearby as the Admiral is retiring
from the Navy. The Colonel and Marianne Brandon also moved to the neighborhood after the death
of Elinor Ferrars. And we also meet Mr and Mrs Wickham, who are in dire need of money and are
planning to appeal to Mr Darcy for help.
Marianne becomes the champion of young Willoughby who is the son of
her past love who has
recently arrived from India. The Colonel is only spoken of, but Marianne is quite similar to the way
that JA wrote her. The author makes a valiant attempt to keep Mr Collins in character and only falls
a little short. I felt that the Mr Darcy was a little too gullible; not as cautious and prudent and one
would expect him to be. Elizabeth was not exactly herself either.
The Sefton's son, who comes to visit them, and young Willoughby are
both interested in the elder
Darcy daughter who is 16 (the younger, Caroline, is 15). There is a shocking development that
affects the Darcys and Wickhams. The villains are thwarted and all ends well for everyone.
I enjoyed this little tale and recommend that you read it if you come