Synopses & Reviews
Jane Austen called it "her own darling child" when it was published in 1813, and in the nearly two hundred years since then, Pride and Prejudice has been enthusiastically adopted by countless readers (including the five thousand members of the Jane Austen Society of North America). Now those of us who can't get enough of the Regency trappings and witty social sparring can thank author Elizabeth Aston -- her latest novel, Mr. Darcy's Daughters, picks up twenty years after Pride and Prejudice left off.
It is the year 1818, and -- as Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Constantinople -- we get to know their five daughters, who have left the sheltered surroundings of Pemberly for a few months in London. While the eldest Letitia frets and the youngest Alethea practices her music, twins Georgina and Belle flirt and frolic their way through dance balls, and Camilla -- level-headed and independent -- discovers what joys and sorrows the city has to offer an intelligent young woman. Readers will thrill to the return of such beloved Austen creations as Elizabeth's old nemesis Caroline Bingley (now Lady Warren), the ever-reliable Gardiners, and wayward sister Lydia. Full of societal intrigue and romantic high jinks, Mr. Darcy's Daughters is a romp that would make Austen herself proud.
Linda Berdoll author of The Bar Sinister A chess game of love and betrayal.
Julia Barrett author of Jane Austen's Charlotte Imagine poor Mr. Darcy with five marriageable daughters of his own! And in Mr. Darcy's Daughters, Elizabeth Aston has them all at large in dissolute London. Ah, but what a difference! Unlike Jane Austen's Bennet sisters, some twenty years earlier, these young ladies possess both position and money to spare! Aston takes us on a romp through late Regency society.
Joan Aiken author of Jane Fairfax I read [Mr. Darcy's Daughters] in two gulps and greatly enjoyed it...The invented daughters are fun -- prissy Letty, witty Camilla, musical Alethea, the unbridled twins -- and their ups and downs in London society make a lively story.
Picking up twenty years after Pride and Prejudice left off, Mr. Darcy's Daughters
begins in the year 1818. Elizabeth and Darcy have gone to Constantinople, giving us an opportunity to get to know their five daughters, who have left the sheltered surroundings of Pemberley for a few months in London. While the eldest, Letitia, frets and the youngest, Alethea, practices her music, twins Georgina and Belle flirt and frolic their way through parties and balls and Camilla -- levelheaded and independent -- discovers what joys and sorrows the city has to offer an intelligent young woman. Readers will delight in the return of such beloved Austen creations as Elizabeth's old nemesis Caroline Bingley (now Lady Warren), the ever-reliable Gardiners and wayward Aunt Lydia.
Charming, beautifully written and full of societal intrigue and romantic high jinks, Mr. Darcy's Daughters is a tale that would please Austen herself.
About the Author
Elizabeth Aston is a passionate Jane Austen fan who studied with Austen biographer Lord David Cecil at Oxford. The author of eight previous novels, she lives in England with her husband and two teenage children.
Reading Group Guide
Mr. Darcy's Daughters
- Which characters did you want to see end up together? Why do you think they would have made (or do make) a good couple? In the end, do you think any of the characters were kept from the match that was best for them? What keeps them apart -- is it due more to social or personal reasons?
- In what ways do the characters' views of courtship and marriage foreshadow modern-day notions of these institutions? Which character expresses the most conservative views on the subjects? Who holds the most progressive views?
- Do you think family politics plays a large role in present-day marriages? If not, what has replaced this as the primary influence on the decision to marry? In choosing their relationships, do any of the characters in the novel avoid the pressures of their family's demands? If so, how is this accomplished? What does each character seek in a relationship, and do you think their final choices give them what they desire?
- What function do the Fitzwilliams serve in the novel, and how does their treatment of the Darcy sisters reflect the changes in each girl's behavior over the course of the novel? How and why do the Fitzwilliams change their expectations of the girls' stay in London from the time the girls arrive until the end of the novel?
- Do you imagine the sisters would have acted much differently around their parents? In what ways would they likely have acted the same? Which factor seemed more influential in dictating the girls' behavior -- the newfound allure of city life or the lack of parental supervision?
- Despite their many differences, the Darcy sisters share a certain headstrong attitude. How does the stubbornness of each sister manifest itself? Do you think the sisters are more alike or different? How does each sister's age influence the role she assumes in the family? For instance, how might Letty's relative experience and Alethea's relative youth sway their actions and their general outlooks?
- The novel is filled with reversals of fortune, outrageous social scenes and loves lost and gained. Choose what you feel were the three most dramatic moments in the narrative. Which characters were affected, and how did each incident change the future course of events? In what way did the social structures of the day and age affect those moments? How do you think you would have gotten along in such an era? How would your personality benefit you, and how would it harm you?
- Alethea dresses as a man to enjoy advantages she might not be granted otherwise. Which character is most sympathetic to her ruse? Which character is, or would be, least accepting of this deception? How have opportunities changed for women in society, and how have they stayed the same? Are there certain basic issues between the sexes that are unlikely to ever change, or will new eras always bring new arrangements?
- Sir Sidney Leigh, the Reverend Valpy and Aunt Lydia are all ostracized for their behavior at some point in the novel. What was it about their actions that caused them to lose esteem in the eyes of others? What social judgments made in the novel would still be made today, and which wouldn't? Which character most greatly earned your disdain for their actions and why? How much is your decision influenced by the historical time in which you live?
- At one point, Mrs. Delamere warns: "Long engagements do no good, take my word for it." Is her advice proven? Which character's experience best reflects her concern? What are the various troubles unique to those who have long engagements?
- In what ways does Aston stay true to the spirit and style of Jane Austen? In what ways is her style most distinctive from Austen's work? What do you think would be the most challenging aspect of writing a sequel to a book like Pride and Prejudice?
- How does the last line spoken by Camilla reflect on the larger themes of the novel?