“Since her marriage to Mr Darcy some seven weeks ago, Elizabeth had wanted for nothing to complete her happiness, unless it was a chance to see her sister Jane again.  Which is why her excitement increased markedly as they drove into London and around mid-morning found themselves approaching Mr Bingley’s house in Grosvenor Street.  Her husband could not conceal his amusement, as she cried out, ‘There they are!’ like a little girl on her first visit to the city.  As the carriage pulled up, she could barely wait to be helped out, before she flung herself into the welcoming arms of her sister.”

In this Pride & Prejudice spin-off, Rebecca Ann Collins has picked up Elizabeth’s story directly after the wedding day.  Elizabeth and Darcy have headed on their honeymoon tour and are now returning to visit Jane and Bingley before they travel home to Pemberley.  From there, we watch as the Darcy family grows and expands, as Elizabeth adapts to her new home and faces the challenges of being a wife, a mother, and head of a prominent family.   Along the way, Pemberley is challenged with the rest of the country as the parties of Parliament evolve and an age of Industrialization is  changing the land.  Being a landowner is shifting from being an envied and revered position to one which is challenged and reviled.  And Darcy and Elizabeth must face heartbreak and joy as they age and enjoy their lives.

Of all the “spin-offs” of P&P I’ve read, this has to be by far the best.  It doesn’t involve some supernatural mystery, or focus on the sexual relationship between it’s protagonists, but meanders along through the lives of the characters we’ve come to love in Jane Austen’s classic.  We’re offered insight into the Bingleys and the Wickhams as well – offered several romances with cousins and children as they grow older and find loves of their own.  And there is a wonderful balance between every day life and the events which changed England near the end of the Regency period.

If you enjoyed P&P for the romance and the gentle flow, this is a wonderful choice if you want the story to move on.  While some may complain that it has no plot, I humbly disagree.  Unless you consider following a life with its ups and downs as no plot.  Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, and Bingley are some of the most dear literary characters to my heart, and I was pleased and gratified to see them treated so wonderfully in Collins’ book.  I look forward to picking up the next in the series.

“The Pemberley Chronicles” was written by Rebecca Ann Collins and published in 1997.

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