This cannot account, however, for the response she has had since then to two other books, which follow on from The Chronicles and particularly Netherfield Park Revisited, which is the least dependent upon the characters from Pride and Prejudice and yet remarkably linked to it, by context.
The story of Jonathan Bingley- son of Charles and Jane Bingley, who returns to Netherfield and tries to make a new life after a personal tragedy is told with sympathy and restraint, without resort to sensational Gothic-style melodrama or contrived distortions of character.
In fact, the characters have a readability that seduces es the reader into identifying with them and sharing their problems and successes, as so many did and still do with Jane Austen's own people.
In The Ladies of Longbourn, the same interesting mix of character and situation makes for a very readable continuation to Netherfield Park. Anne-Marie Bingley, widowed daughter of Jonathan Bingley, must find a way to overcome the malaise of a desolate marriage. How she does it is told with understanding and honesty in this, the fourth book in the series of Pemberley novels by Ms Collins.
The lively dialogue, believable characterisation and vivid style- (which makes no attempt to copy Jane Austen, as so many sequel writers do with marked lack of success) guarantees the success of both these very readable and enjoyable stories.
Perhaps her greatest achievement is to enlist the help of "dear Jane" (she claims she only borrows her characters and will not distort or destroy their integrity) to add weight to her own work, without appearing to imitate, or even worse, plagiarize the original. Even better, she tells a story very well.
I have no doubt of the enjoyment that her readers will derive from these
two companion volumes.
Dear Ms Collins,
Thank you once again for a remarkable and enjoyable experience, with both Netherfield Park Revisited (which I have revisited so many times since my first reading) and now, the lovely Ladies of Longbourn.
What stands out, for me, in these, as in all your novels, is the integrity of the characters and content. I am particularly attracted to the women like Anna Faulkner and Anne-Marie Bingley, who are your own creations and yet could well be Jane Austen's, for they are so true to the period and its ethos that I have to pinch myself to believe that they have been created at the end of the twentieth and not the eighteenth century.
Likewise, the backgrounds, historical context and social conventions are all so right for the period, a reader is transported quite effortlessly back in time, to a period in English history when women could not vote, there was no chance of divorce and children worked twelve hours a day in appalling conditions.
But best of all are the fascinating, but totally believable, stories
you tell- of the men and women who have traveled out of Pride and Prejudice
into your books. I can honestly say that I have not enjoyed another
sequel ever as much as I have loved reading Netherfield Park and
The Ladies of Longbourn.