A Woman of Influence
The woman at the heart of this story is Becky Tate, the daughter of Charlotte Lucas Collins and Reverend Collins. She is the wealthy widow of publisher and businessman, Anthony Tate. A writer in her own right, Becky had married him with the hope that her hard work and support of him would bring her marital happiness, but her life has been one of profound sadness. When their only daughter dies, she is left to mourn her alone as her husband becomes more deeply involved in his business affairs.
Becky’s one consolation at this time comes from her brief friendship with Mr. Contini, a businessman who divides his time between Italy and London. He provides more than just comfort at her loss and supports her in ways she had never known with her husband. Worried that those around her might misconstrue their friendship, she flees London and tries to forget him. When her husband abandons her and goes to live and die in America, she immerses herself into using her money and influence to do good for those she deems as worthy of her aid. Becky has bought a beautiful estate in the quiet countryside of Kent and spends her days writing or visiting her beloved sister, Catherine, who lives nearby. Two years later she receives a note from Mr. Contini, and the wheels are set in motion once more.
A Woman of Influence takes place in England in the late 1860s and is filled with many of Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice characters, plus many new ones added by the author in eight previous novels of her popular Pemberley Series. It is a pleasant read, and the author has done a good job of using back-story to bring all of the characters into alignment.