The Darcy Connection
Elizabeth Aston is the author of four previous novels about the daughters and other relations of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. In this story, she turns her attention to Eliza and Charlotte Collins, the daughters of Mr. Collins and his wife Charlotte, Elizabeth Bennet’s friend. Mr. Collins is now the Bishop of Ripon and lives in Yorkshire with his family. His daughter Charlotte is a beauty. Eliza is less pretty than Charlotte, but is spirited and intelligent, like her godmother, Mrs. Darcy. The social-climbing Mr. Collins pins his hopes for the future on Charlotte. She is to have a season in London with her godmother in the hopes of making a good match. Eliza is to accompany Charlotte to London to distance her from an attachment to Squire Diggory’s son, which the squire feels is not at all appropriate. Mr. Collins, ever the sycophant, agrees. Eliza doesn’t want to go, but prefers London to the alternative of being sent to Pemberley to stay with the two youngest Darcy children and their governess.
Not surprisingly, Eliza finds London stimulating and quickly forgets her attachment to the squire’s son. At a party, she meets Bartholomew Bruton, scion of a wealthy banking family. She dislikes him intensely after overhearing an unkind remark he makes about her. When he helps her with some family difficulties, she realizes that she has misjudged him and falls in love with him. Sound familiar? Despite the similarity to the plot of Pride and Prejudice, I found the story charming and read it quickly. I felt like I was visiting old friends, and that’s a nice feeling. Austen enthusiasts should enjoy this one.