Margaret Dashwood
or
Interference
by
Mrs. Francis Brown

Hardcover  220 pages
John Lane The Godley Head Limited  (1929)  


        Review by Lynn Lamy, 21 August 2003 For those who have wondered about the fate of Margaret Dashwood and how she fared at the hands of Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, you need look no further than this book. Mrs. Brown has written a simple tale of a young girl who has learned to keep her own council. The author calls her " an observer of life."

The story begins when she is seventeen. Her sisters both have young sons, whom she and her mother have just returned from visiting. They expect, upon their arrival home, to greet a guest, a Mr. Atherton, who is to be the new vicar. Margaret's brother, John, it seems has recommended him to Sir John for the post and has gone even further, in recommending to Mr. Atherton to pursue marriage with his sister Margaret. John Dashwood intimates in a letter to Mrs. Dashwood that he has told Mr. Atherton that he himself will increase Margaret's dowry if she marries Mr. Atherton.

Mr. Atherton comes, and is tiresome company for the two Dashwood women. He is conceited and vain and takes every opportunity of telling Mrs. Dashwood how wise she would be to remove the mulberry tree outside the dining room window (along with other unwelcome advice). His company is altogether irksome.

One day as she is walking the grounds nearby, Margaret encounters a handsome young man. The two converse, have much in common, and enjoy themselves immensely. The next day they meet again, and again find great satisfaction in each other's company. Before many days have passed, Margaret realizes she is in love with this Commander Pennington.Now comes the interference. It seems Commander Pennington knows some well-born people, but does not come from a good family himself. Mrs. Dashwood expresses her fears for  Margaret in a letter to Elinor, and Elinor in her turn comes for a visit and immediately tries to influence Margaret's actions and opinions. This only leads Margaret to keep her own council even more, and she tells no one of what she really feels. How it all comes right in the end I shall not say. Margaret marries happily, with her beloved mother's blessing.

Margaret Dashwood was a good read and mildly entertaining. The author has made her real enough that if you do not actually love her, you at least are glad in the end that she is happy. Mrs. Jennings, Sir John and Mrs. Dashwood are all much as we find them in Sense and Sensibility, as is Marianne. Elinor seemed to me, however, to be far more severe, upbraiding , unhappy and overbearing than I gathered from the original novel. Although the ending is happy and relatively satisfying, one could wish for more enlightenment on the character of Commander Pennington to allow for a true assessment of his worth. Overall, an interesting book if you come across it, and a rare attempt at making a future for Margaret.