I read Nancy Kelley‘s first book His Good Opinion last year and absolutely loved it. Therefore, when I saw that there was a second book in the series ready for my reading pleasure, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up and get straight into it.
Loving Miss Darcy follows the story of Georgiana Darcy. It picks up where His Good Opinion left off, in that Elizabeth and Darcy are happily married and settling in to life together. Georgiana watches from afar, envious of the love that his brother has found and resigned to the fact that no one will ever love her like that, not after her scandalous affair with George Wickham. When her brother suggests taking her to London to experience her first season/attempt to find a husband, the idea doesn’t sit well Georgiana. Meanwhile, her cousin Richard is also less than thrilled with the idea. He doesn’t feel anyone is worthy of Georgiana, and he just can’t put his finger on why that is. When her past threatens to ruin her season, Richard must decide who really is worthy of Georgiana once and for all.
I really enjoyed seeing more of Georgiana, I’ve always felt that her fate as a minor player in Pride and Prejudice was unfair, as she seemed to have so much more potential as a character. Her story arc was a plausible continuation from where Austen left her 200 years ago. This shows a respect from the author that makes reading her stories such a pleasant experience. The innocence that made Georgiana so likeable in Pride and Prejudice was maintained throughout, but she was given an added dose of fire which readers can assume would come from having Elizabeth Bennet as a female influence. The insecurities that came from her past were felt throughout the book, and it was nice to see someone that was willing to take the time to give her self-esteem a boost.
Colonel Fitzwilliam was also a character I enjoyed seeing more of. His relationship with Georgiana is something that I’ve seen in a couple of Pride and Prejudice spin-offs but I’ve not yet read another book that’s placed it at the centre of story. Again, his character was made to feel plausible in terms of development. We didn’t really see a lot of Fitzwilliam in the original story, so it’s hard to know what Austen would have intended for him, but his character arc in this story didn’t feel outlandish or silly. His blind stupidity when it came to his feelings for Georgiana was reminiscent of his cousin’s developing feelings towards Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, giving this book a feeling of familiarity that was welcome.
While I can appreciate that this story was one that focused on Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliam, I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to see just a little bit more of Elizabeth and Darcy. Book 1 in the Brides Of Pemberley series had built their relationship up to such happy heights, that it would have been nice to see more of that seep into the plotline of book 2. That being said, it’s refreshing to see a Pride and Prejudice spin-off that isn’t a re-hashing or a follow on from the original story that only focuses on Elizabeth and Darcy. Austen provided a lot of smaller but strong characters when she wrote Pride and Prejudice, and it’s fantastic that other authors have taken the opportunity to develop those characters into something that can be enjoyed outside of Austen‘s original work.
A surprising element to the story was the role of Kitty. She, like Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliam, was resigned to a small character role in Pride and Prejudice. Nancy Kelley has given readers a glimpse of what relations between Elizabeth’s family and Darcy’s family might have been over time. It makes sense that the two girls would have striked up a friendship, being of a similar age and closely related through marriage. Their friendship was a nice non-romantic touch the story; I’m only sad that we didn’t get to see Kitty get a happy ending – maybe her story will be the focus of the next book in the Brides Of Pemberley series (here’s hoping!).
The plot in itself was a great read. Georgiana’s afore-mentioned insecurities played a big part; true to the life of most young girls in any era of history. The introduction of additional characters in the form of Richard Fitzwilliam’s friends and family provided a bigger world for the reader to enjoy and also bought a freshness to the book that was unexpected; the friends in particular became very important to the plot and provided much entertainment. The twist at the end of the story was, for the most part, unexpected and gave the story a boost of tension and excitement.
I enjoyed this book as much as the first in the series, and would happily read more of Nancy Kelley’s work in future.