Expectation of Happiness: A Companion Volume to Sense and Sensibility
Several years have passed in this companion novel to Sense and Sensibility. It is now 1819; Margaret Dashwood is all grown up, a modern woman with contemporary sensibilities and a complicated love story. Elinor and Edward Ferrars have several children and still happily reside at the parish. Marianne is bored with married life. Colonel Brandon conveniently travels for much of the book, giving Willoughby a chance to return, seeking forgiveness and a chance to reconnect with Marianne.
I am not a fan of these continuation or companion novels to the classics; it never seems like authors can truly channel Jane Austen. Nevertheless, Collins does an excellent job with the language, settings, and feel of the times. She has clearly spent much time researching the history and time period. The story switches from the viewpoint of each sister though focuses mainly on Margaret and Marianne. Margaret’s is most definitely the better storyline of the two. Her search for education, independence, and love is well written and intriguing.
Unfortunately, I was not impressed with Marianne’s wishy-washy emotional saga. Distraught over her lackluster marriage with Colonel Brandon and the sudden return of Willoughby, Marianne struggles for much of the book about her feelings. But as soon as Colonel Brandon breaks his leg, and Willoughby once again becomes the subject of gossip, she quickly reverts back to being a loving and true wife, without any repercussions. This sudden change of heart is a bit too tidy and convenient, and the fact that Brandon never once appears in the novel as a main character (he and Marianne never have a single conversation) detracts from the story.
Recommended for the essence and feel of Regency times, but not necessarily for the plot.