Old Friends and New Fancies

Written by Sybil J. Brinton
Review by Sara Wilson

Subtitled An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen, this book does exactly what it says on the cover: it continues the stories of all six of the completed Austen novels (excluding Lady Susan) and at the same time interweaves their continuing stories and characters into one. The premise is that most happily married couples desire equally happy marriages for their friends. Thus we have characters such as Georgiana Darcy, Kitty Bennet, James Morland, Mary Crawford, William Price, Colonel Fitzwilliam and so on taking centre stage in a jolly round of matchmaking. Complications, misunderstandings and interference’s abound before characters old and new can end happily.

Although written in 1914, Old Friends and New Fancies is a fresh and sparkling read in the style of the original novels. Both dialogue and narrative are pleasingly authentic and, thankfully, Sybil Brinton has managed to retain much of the sharp wit so characteristic of Jane Austen. Inevitably the success of such a novel does rely on the reader having at least a passing knowledge of the Austen originals.

Perhaps it is a little predictable and repetitious in places, but nonetheless it will be enjoyable for Jane Austen fanatics everywhere, and it is great fun guessing which unlikely couples will end up together.