Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma

Written by Diana Birchall
Review by Phyllis T. Smith

As Queen Victoria assumes the throne, the former Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice and her husband Mr. Darcy discover that their two grown sons are romantically entangled with the daughters of Elizabeth’s scapegrace sister Lydia. Bettina, the older of the daughters, does the unthinkable; she actually becomes an actress. The reader can understand Elizabeth’s fear that Bettina will lead her son to ruin, but, as more conventional young ladies assure themselves they are modern women, the author seems to be winking at us. Bettina, selfish, reckless, but admirably independent, is by far the most interesting character in the book. Her sister Cloe stays within the bounds of propriety, renounces her apparently hopeless love for the younger Darcy son, and takes a thankless job as a governess in the pompous Mr. Collins’s household. Will virtue be rewarded, vice punished, and true love win out?

If you haven’t visited Austen country recently, you might wish several characters were not referred to by surnames on one page and first names the next, but this enjoyable romance is worth a brief struggle to remember who is who.