sister
“We have already been persuaded by Dr. Russell’s wise dictum that the sea is a match for every disorder. Whether it be for the most serious of ailments, as of the lungs, the blood, or the stomach, or, when facing your minor complaints – the momentary want of spirit, of appetite, or even the loss of a cheerful humor – its healing powers have seldom proved less then miraculous.” – p 161

I believe I mentioned in my other reviews of her works, that Julia Barrett is simply the best when it comes to writing “sequels” to Jane Austen novels. Her style of writing is spectacularly similar to the lovely Austen’s herself. Barrett’s wit is perfectly balanced with modesty, the type of gentle sarcasm that makes Austen’s characters so lovable.

This novel is no different than any other Barrett novel in quality. Now, Barrett has tackled “Sense and Sensibility” a story by Austen which is about the recently impoverished Dashwood sisters. S&S focuses mainly on the two eldest Dashwoods, Elinor and Marianne, and their different personalities. Barrett chooses to focus on the fortunes of the youngest, Margaret, after her sisters have settled their futures. Margaret is a blend of both Elinor and Marianne, composed of Marianne’s strength of feeling and desire for romance yet also determined to master and level herself as Elinor does.

Margaret is burdened with the heavy task of being the youngest daughter of a woman who has had a daughter marry very well and expects the same of her final child. Margaret is also cursed to be the only single young lady in a countryside where many of the other women have nothing better to do but attempt to set her up with various acquaintences, matrimonially speaking. Margaret has seen the heartbreak of both her sisters before their respective marriages, and has vowed to never suffer as they have. It is hard for her to admit she has romantic feelings for any young gentleman, and when two suitors present themselves to her above the rest, Margaret cannot seem to get a grasp on who either of them really are.

This book is vaguely reminiscent of both S&S and P&P – there are scandalous young men, proud young men, virtuous young men, and plenty of busybody older women who are dead set on Margaret marrying. However, Barrett is careful not to completely copy the storylines of either of these novels…she also focusses on the further fortunes of both Elinor and Marianne, throwing more light onto the strange woman from Colonel Brandon’s past and the fortunes of the Ferrars family.

The Third Sister was written by Julia Barrett and published in 1998.

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