Hardcover - 176 pages (April 2000)
St Martins Pr (Trade); ISBN: 0312244061
Hardcover - 172 pages ( 3 February, 2000)
Victor Gollancz; ISBN: 0575068043
The cover describes the book as 'A Jane Austen Entertainment' and it is just that. Lady Catherine and her family are involved in intrigue and skulduggery and there is romance as well. It is not a serious documentation of what happened after PRIDE AND PREJUDICE but an amusing and entertaining read.
What a lovely change from the last new sequel! [The Bar Sinister]
The main characters here are Anne de Bourgh and Maria Lucas. As it begins, Charlotte Lucas Collins has just given birth to her third and fourth children; twin sons. Maria is visiting to help her sister. Mr. Collins must go to take care of the Longbourn estate because Mr. Bennet has just died; Mrs. Bennet predeceased him. He is away for most of the story. Maria is sensitive, sensible, intelligent and musically proficient.
Anne de Bourgh is either 17 or 19, depending upon which chapter you wish to believe. She is active (fond of long walks), defiant and compassionate. She befriends the gardener and plants a garden for herself.
I found Jane Austen's Lady Catherine a laughable, sometimes annoying, character. Aiken's Lady Catherine is despicable; insensitive, selfish, uncaring and mean. Colonel Fitzwilliam is also present and he is nothing like the character that I imagined from reading P&P. There are several characters from Joan Aiken's imagination that contribute to a convoluted and unbelievable plot with an incredible ending.
If you want to read this book, I recommend that you borrow it from the library. Unless you collect sequels as I do, don't waste your money.