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Mr. Darcy's Daughters

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Overview

Picking up twenty years after Pride and Prejudice left off, Mr. Darcy's Daughters begins in the year 1818. Elizabeth and Darcy have gone to Constantinople, giving us an opportunity to get to know their five daughters, who have left the sheltered surroundings of Pemberley for a few months in London. While the eldest, Letitia, frets and the youngest, Alethea, practices her music, twins Georgina and Belle flirt and frolic their way through parties and balls and Camilla — levelheaded and independent — discovers what ...

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Mr. Darcy's Daughters: A Novel

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Overview

Picking up twenty years after Pride and Prejudice left off, Mr. Darcy's Daughters begins in the year 1818. Elizabeth and Darcy have gone to Constantinople, giving us an opportunity to get to know their five daughters, who have left the sheltered surroundings of Pemberley for a few months in London. While the eldest, Letitia, frets and the youngest, Alethea, practices her music, twins Georgina and Belle flirt and frolic their way through parties and balls and Camilla — levelheaded and independent — discovers what joys and sorrows the city has to offer an intelligent young woman. Readers will delight in the return of such beloved Austen creations as Elizabeth's old nemesis Caroline Bingley (now Lady Warren), the ever-reliable Gardiners and wayward Aunt Lydia.
Charming, beautifully written and full of societal intrigue and romantic high jinks, Mr. Darcy's Daughters is a tale that would please Austen herself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Linda Berdoll author of The Bar Sinister A chess game of love and betrayal.

Julia Barrett author of Jane Austen's Charlotte Imagine poor Mr. Darcy with five marriageable daughters of his own! And in Mr. Darcy's Daughters, Elizabeth Aston has them all at large in dissolute London. Ah, but what a difference! Unlike Jane Austen's Bennet sisters, some twenty years earlier, these young ladies possess both position and money to spare! Aston takes us on a romp through late Regency society.

Joan Aiken author of Jane Fairfax I read [Mr. Darcy's Daughters] in two gulps and greatly enjoyed it...The invented daughters are fun — prissy Letty, witty Camilla, musical Alethea, the unbridled twins — and their ups and downs in London society make a lively story.

Publishers Weekly
This sequel to Pride and Prejudice from first-time novelist Aston reads more like a beach book for historical fiction fans than a literary homage to Austen's masterpiece. The novel is set in 1818, when Mr. and Mrs. Darcy (nee Elizabeth Bennett) have gone on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople and left their five daughters in London with Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and his wife. Bossy Letitia and rebellious Camilla, the two eldest girls at 21 and 19, look forward to London's social whirl; the youngest, 16-year-old Althea, has an opportunity to study voice with an Italian master musician; and 17-year-old twins Georgina and Belle can't wait to flirt and break hearts. But the young country ladies "need to keep their wits well about them" in the city; pitfalls abound, suitors come calling and soon the Darcy girls-especially the mischievous Camilla, who "had too much of a sense of humour, too witty a tongue and too clever a mind"-are raising eyebrows and incurring the censure of some powerful Londoners. Aston attempts to imitate Austen's style, with little success-the prose is stilted and anachronistic ("it would be very fortunate if we were to find a suitable young man for Letitia. To help her get over Tom's loss, you know, and give her thoughts a new direction"). The daughters' personalities are drawn in broad, predictable strokes, and the romantic plot feels contrived and overly drawn out. Despite the curiosity factor, even Austen fans will likely give this a miss, perhaps turning instead to Emma Tennant's superior Austen sequels (Pemberley, etc.). (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A generation after Pride and Prejudice, the five daughters of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy arrive in London to stay with cousins while their parents are on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople. We follow the romantic and marital travails of the two eldest daughters, Letty and Camilla; the spirited 17-year-old twins, Georgina and Belle; and the youngest, Alethea. Meanwhile, crises such as the reappearance of Letty's fiance, presumed dead, and Georgina's elopement to Paris keep scandal seekers engaged. However, Camilla's story holds central place as she slowly acknowledges her attraction to her cousin's fiance, Wytton. Distancing the sequel from its predecessor allows British novelist Aston to use some original characters, such as Caroline Bingley, without resurrecting them all. Despite the availability of numerous published sequels to Pride and Prejudice and dozens of revisions and extensions on various web sites, it is hard to imagine that devout Austen fans will find them truly satisfying; still, this one comes as close as any. Those who enjoy Austen without reverence will certainly enjoy Aston's work, as will historical fiction readers who want an engaging plot and characters regardless of previous literary incarnations.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another Jane Austen spin-off, this time about the escapades of the imagined daughters of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Off to Constantinople on a diplomatic assignment, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy decide to send their five daughters to London for the year, under the care of their cousins, the Fitzwilliams. Mr. Fitzwilliam intends to keep the girls under strict scrutiny, but his charming (and much younger) wife Fanny has grand plans for the five heiresses: the London season has just begun, and perhaps husbands can be caught, at least for the two eldest. Letty, at 21, is the beauty of the family, though she also has a dour, moralizing nature. At 17, twins Georgina and Belle (nicknamed by their ardent admirers "Night" and "Day") care for nothing but fashion, flirting, and beaux, while youngest daughter Alethea, headstrong and wild, is devoted to her music. It's 19-year-old Camilla who emerges as heroine, not quite so pretty as her sisters, but, in Austen tradition, much the wisest and most appealing. No sooner do all arrive in London than scandal rears its head-indeed, by end, potential disgrace threatens each of the girls. To begin, Letty's fiancé, thought killed in the war three years ago, has suddenly turned up-married to a Belgian lady. Sensible Camilla finds herself engaged to Sir Sidney, who is discovered not only to have remarkable taste in lady's frocks, but a penchant for handsome young men. The engagement is off, and Camilla heartbroken, but there's plenty to distract her-balls to attend, relatives to avoid, four sisters to shield from ruin. For all its predictability, there is a comforting charm in revisiting this simpler world, where a misunderstood glance can turn the plot.Thankfully, it turns finally in Miss Camilla's favor, and she of the sharp tongue and unladylike ways takes the prize. Silly stuff but enjoyable now and then: a bit like cotton candy at the fair.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743243971
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 4/8/2003
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 530,753
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Aston is a passionate Jane Austen fan who studied with Austen biographer Lord David Cecil at Oxford. The author of several novels, including Mr. Darcy's Daughters, she lives in England and Italy.

Visit www.elizabeth-aston.com for more information.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Town and country are different worlds. No matter how rich and self-possessed they are, country-bred young ladies need to keep their wits well about them when they come to London.

The two eldest Darcy sisters were in the morning parlour of a large town house in Aubrey Square, the home of their cousins, the Fitzwilliams. Letitia, the eldest, was sitting at a small elegant table, a sheet of hot-pressed notepaper lying in front of her, trying to compose a letter.

She put down her pen with a sigh of irritation. "The noise," she said. "The constant sound of carriages and horses and voices and dogs barking — however can people support living in the midst of such a din?"

Her peevish tone wasn't reflected in the calm beauty of her face, which with its wide brow and fine nose caused her sisters, when in teasing mood, to call her Galatea, declaring that she was exactly like a classical statue come to life.

Camilla had none of Letitia's perfection of feature. Her chief attributes were a pair of dark, expressive eyes, an instinctive grace of movement and a lively countenance. She was sitting at the window, delighting in the sights and sounds of a smart London square and wondering at the medley of smells wafting in from outside. She watched a carriage and pair rattling by, driven by a stout young man in a many-caped coat, his well-bred chestnuts picking up their hooves in a brisk trot. The driver sent a lingering glance towards a pretty governess in a blue pelisse who was walking her charges, two lively little boys, along the pavement. The smaller child was dragging a small wooden horse on wheels, which kept on tipping over, his brother darting back to set it right to the accompaniment of squeals of annoyance and mirth.

A fine, tall footman in morning livery was exercising a pair of cavalier King Charles spaniels, their feathery tails waving to and fro as they frisked and jumped about, uttering sharp barks. An oyster seller shouted her wares in a great bellow of a voice, and a knife grinder cried out for business on the other side of the square. A delivery boy sauntered along the railings, whistling, one package under his arm and another swinging round and round on its length of twine.

"There are those who find the crowing of the cock and the rumble of the farmer's cart and the baaing of sheep insupportably noisy," she said, without taking her eyes from the busy scene outside.

"Camilla, how can you say so? The tranquillity, the sweet serenity of the countryside, the silent beauty of our woods and river, I do so miss them."

Camilla listened with only half her attention as Letty launched into her favourite lament of how unfair it was, how unreasonable of their parents to drag them from the peace and happiness of Derbyshire to a house in London. "It is so especially hard on Belle and Georgina; how they will hate to be staying here."

Camilla prudently kept her opinion on that to herself and laughed out loud as the two spaniels twined their leashes round the footman's handsome calves and threatened to upturn him.

"Come away from that window, you must not be sitting there for anyone to see."

"What harm is there in anyone seeing me? I'm not ogling the footman, merely admiring the scene."

"Ogling the footman indeed! Camilla, don't say such things. I know you mean it for a joke, but others won't understand your sense of fun, and may take you seriously."

"Only a fool would take it seriously, and why should we care for the opinion of fools? Besides, he is such a very handsome footman."

Letty spoke with real earnestness. "Your free way of speaking is likely to get you into such trouble! Mr. Fitzwilliam would not approve."

Camilla knew that to be true. Their cousin, Mr. Fitzwilliam, a fashionable, amiable man of fifty, had sold out of the army and was now a Member of Parliament. He had a strong feeling for the proprieties, and expected his womenfolk to behave with decorum. There was bound to be another side to him, shown only to his masculine intimates and cronies at the club or at sporting events, a side that would be a good deal coarser and not at all averse to improper behaviour among females of the demi-monde, but that was an aspect of his life that would not be seen in Aubrey Square.
She also knew that Letty was Mr. Fitzwilliam's favourite among the sisters, and always had been. She felt no hurt at this, she knew that she didn't conform at all to her cousin's ideal of womanhood. She had too much of a sense of humour, too witty a tongue and too clever a mind, apart from inheriting all her father's strength of character. She wasn't a beauty like Letty, and she was quite aware that she made her cousin uncomfortable; she could often see him wondering what was going through her mind, and fearing the worst.

Letitia was still prosing on. "Mama would tell you so, as she has often had to, if she were here. Since she isn't — and who knows when we may see her again, if ever? — it is my duty to warn you about how you should behave. This is not a country house, manners are different here."

"I had noticed," Camilla said dryly.

Letitia was just twenty-one, and perhaps felt the importance of her position as the oldest of the five Darcy sisters a little too keenly. Their father, Fitzwilliam Darcy, had been sent abroad on a diplomatic mission, and his wife, Elizabeth, reluctant to be separated from him for a year or more, had chosen to accompany him to Constantinople. The girls could profitably spend several months in London, while their two young boys were to stay at Pemberley, their house in Derbyshire, under the care of a tutor and their maternal grandfather, Mr. Bennet.

There had been some talk of Mr. Bennet accompanying his granddaughters to London, but he had been very much alarmed at the plan. He had no notion of looking after young ladies of fashion in London; he had found bringing up his own daughters exhausting and troublesome enough and would by no means embark on such duties again, not even for a few months. He would be extremely happy to care for young William and Charles and to keep an eye on the smooth running of Pemberley in his son-in-law's absence, although with his excellent steward and household staff, he imagined the house and estate would manage very well while its master and mistress were off among the Muslims.

Letitia knew, with a conviction amounting to certainty, that Mama and Papa would never return. Even if they survived the drive to Dover — such a dangerous road, the coachmen inclined to go so fast, highwaymen lurking on every heath — then the sea voyage would be bound to end in a watery tragedy; should they somehow safely make it as far as Ostend, then there would be the perilous journey across Europe. "There are tracts of such wildness, forests and hostile landscapes, wolves, bears and bandits," she told Camilla.

In the unlikely event of their reaching their destination, their fate would be sealed; if the Muslims did not rise in revolution and mow them down with scimitars, then the plague would carry them off. Or smallpox; only imagine Mama all pock-marked and scarred if she by any chance recovered.
"But Letty, Mama has been inoculated against the smallpox," Camilla protested.

"Only the English variety. In Turkey, everything will be different, and infinitely more dangerous."
At present, just three of the sisters had arrived in London, Letitia, Camilla and Alethea, the youngest at sixteen. With them had come Miss Griffin, governess to Alethea. The other two sisters, the seventeen-year-old twins Georgina and Belle, were presently staying with an aunt in Worcestershire.

Mr. Fitzwilliam's second wife, Fanny, was a lively woman in her late twenties, the mother of a young family who thought it the greatest fun to have her cousins to stay, and whose eyes sparkled with delight at the prospect of parties and fashions and the gossip and liveliness five young ladies would bring into the house. She would have them all married by the time Darcy and Elizabeth returned, Fanny declared.

"No, no," cried her husband. "You are not to be matchmaking, the girls can very well wait for husbands until their parents are come home."

"Letitia is one-and-twenty, and Camilla nineteen, more than old enough to be thinking of husbands."

"Take them to parties and balls, rig them out in the first style of fashion and let them enjoy what London has to offer in the way of plays and music; that is quite enough for you to be doing."

Fanny kept her counsel, exclaimed at the perfection of Letitia's classically beautiful features, especially since brunettes were all the fashion just now, privately thought that the men would find Camilla's liveliness and laughter more taking, and longed for the twins to arrive and complete the party.

Now Fanny flew into the room in a babble of talk, as was her way, in time to catch the last of Letitia's predictions of gloom.

"Why, however can you speak so? Here is Mr. Tilson back from China, with all his wits and health about him, and Lord Wincanton goes backwards and forwards to America as though he were posting down to Somerset. Travel these days is so very safe and comfortable, you need have no concern for your parents' safety."

"I hope you are right," said Letitia with a sigh. "I fear, though, that they are sure to meet with some misfortune. I shall be left, at twenty-one, to take on the care of my brothers and sisters, and however shall I manage?"

"Lord, what melancholy thoughts," said Fanny. "Pray turn your mind to something more agreeable. The dressmaker will be here later this morning, and I long to see how that Indian patterned muslin has made up."

Camilla regretted that Fanny had mentioned this, for clothes were another bone of contention between her and Letty.

"How can we need half so many dresses?" Letitia had exclaimed when Fanny, tutting with dismay at their countrified clothes, had summoned her modiste and reeled off a string of absolute necessities: morning dresses, walking costumes, afternoon dresses, ball gowns, carriage dresses, a riding habit —

"Not for me, Cousin Fanny," Camilla said. "Letty is a good horsewoman, but I never ride if I can possibly help it. It is a form of exercise I do not enjoy."

"Even without a riding habit, you cannot possibly want so many clothes!" said her sister.

"Fanny must be our guide," Camilla said. She loved fashions and was perfectly happy to spend an hour or more poring over La Belle Assemblée or inspecting muslins and silks new in from France and the East.

f0

"This is nothing," said Fanny. "Not half of what you must have in due course. However, they need not all be ordered immediately. First we must make you fit to be seen; those sleeves are quite out of fashion, Letty, you would be laughed at if you wore them out. Then you may look about you at your leisure and choose for yourselves. You may buy anything you want in London, anything you can think of. And hats, too, your bonnets are quite hideous."

"The expense," cried Letitia.

"Oh, it is not so very much, and your papa is fortunately so rich that a few dresses and hats will make no difference to him. He would not want his daughters to be dowdy, I assure you. He will expect you to be as elegant as any young ladies in London, and I shall take pains to see that you are; I have no wish to receive one of his cold looks should he return and find a pair of frights."

"It is lucky that the others are still in the schoolroom," said Letitia. "They will not need new clothes."

"To be sure," said Fanny, her mind running on muslins and trimmings. "Although I long for Alethea to be out, such a pretty thing as she is. Are Belle and Georgina as pretty? It is more than three years since I saw them. They will mind very much not going about in society, I dare say, but their turn will come."

"They must pay attention to their studies and music and drawing and take advantage of London masters while they are here," said Letitia primly. "They are country girls at heart, Fanny, and I think will be glad to be spared the rattle and bustle of too much town life."

An image of Georgina and Belle came into Camilla's mind. Could Letitia possibly believe what she was saying? She feared that she did; Letty wasn't given to considering whether others shared her opinions. She always took it for granted that her sisters agreed with her on all important topics, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Since she knew herself to be in the right, any objections were the result of imperfect understanding, and she need not take any account of them.

Camilla had her own ideas about the twins, chief of which was that Belle and Georgina would assuredly scheme themselves out of the schoolroom within a week of their arrival in London.

Fanny was still talking. "We must find husbands for you two; the twins will be grateful to me if I do so, since they can then come out."

"Husbands!" Letitia was shocked. "Thank you, Fanny, but we are not in London to find husbands. Our parents would not wish it, and besides, for my part — " Her pretty mouth quivered, and tears started in her eyes.

"Oh, my dear, how heartless of me. Only, you know, it has been three years, and Tom would not wish you never to form another attachment."

"It is not in my power to do so. I am the kind of person who loves so truly that there can never be a second attachment. Tom would have been faithful to my memory, had I been cruelly torn from him, and I can do no less. He had no eyes for any other woman but me, and I consider our betrothal a sacred trust."

Fanny and Camilla exchanged glances. Camilla was perfectly used to her sister's ways, and Fanny, who had a vein of shrewd common sense beneath a frivolous exterior, was beginning to take her cousin's measure. "So many women lost lovers and husbands at Waterloo, it is all very sad. Yet many of them have found consolation — after a proper time, of course."

"Tom and I were soul mates. I was his first and only love, and I shall remain true to him for the rest of my life, as he was true to me."

Camilla couldn't help thinking of the two redheaded youngsters who were growing up and thriving in separate cottages in Hilted, the village nearest to Tom's house. The flaming hair and freckles were unmistakable — even Letty must have been startled by the likeness — and a gossiping friend in Derbyshire had told her of another child of just such a colouring born to one of the chambermaids in a neighbouring house where Tom visited.

Letitia had known Tom Busby from childhood, and the engagement had pleased both families, although Camilla had had her doubts about Tom's enthusiasm for the match. "I must, I suppose," he'd said to her one rainy afternoon as they played cards in the yellow saloon at Pemberley. "My parents expect it, and I've known Letty for ever, and I always thought we'd probably marry some day or another — I am fond of her, you know, very fond. Only she's such a one for driving a man on. She's barely seventeen, too, it's very young to be married. It would have been better to wait for a year or two, perhaps — however, she is very set on it."
Letitia's grief at the news of Tom's death at Waterloo had been deep and lasting. Camilla, too, had been truly saddened by his death and missed his company, but she felt it was no justification for her sister's adopting a kind of perpetual maiden widowhood. In the Middle Ages, Letitia might have taken her woe and faithfulness into the convent; in 1818, Camilla felt that time should be allowed to heal her sister's sorrows and that reason — not to mention those redhaired children — should remind Letty that Tom was a man and not a saint.

"I hope we may enjoy the company of many new acquaintances, Fanny," she said, "but I by no means wish to find a husband, thank you. I have noticed that husbands have a way of restricting a young woman's friendships and flirts, and are prone to carry their wives off to rusticate in the country."
Fanny shook her head at this and said that Camilla was only funning, but Letitia was so shocked by these remarks that it took her a minute or two to gather her wits for a suitable rebuke, and she was forestalled by the entry of Alethea, with Miss Griffin in tow.

Alethea, black eyes aglow, her curls in their usual disarray, bade her cousin a civil good morning, cast a knowing eye at Letitia and asked cheerfully what had put her on her high horse now, and, tucking her arm into Camilla's, began a passionate plea to be allowed to have singing lessons with one Signor Silvestrini.

"Camilla, you love music as much as I do. You must see that I have to learn with him. Why, there is no teacher to match him in all London, in Europe!"

Camilla unwound her sister's arm. "I never heard of this person; he is an Italian master, I suppose."

"I thought you were to take lessons with Mrs. Deane," said Letty.

"Who will want me to sing sweet ballads and simper as I do so," said Alethea impatiently. "Only you would think of her for a moment, Letty. Now, Signor Silvestrini is a real musician."

Letitia's eyes gleamed as she saw an opportunity to preach. "Alethea," she cried. "Listen to the passion in your voice; that alone is enough to warn us that your music must be watched and the time you devote to it controlled and curtailed."

Alethea rarely paid any attention to her eldest sister, especially on the subject of music. Camilla saw that her eagerness was going to provoke her into some hot outburst that might alarm Fanny and would embroil them all in one of Letty's tedious homilies on behaviour, emotion and the degree of artistic indulgence suitable for a young lady — that is, none at all, Letty's approved accomplishments comprising no more than pale and innocuous water-colours, dull pieces learned painstakingly for performance on the pianoforte and a little exquisite embroidery.

This attitude wasn't shared, she knew perfectly well, by their parents, who were pleased by Camilla's own performance on the pianoforte and rejoiced in their youngest daughter's much greater and very real love of music, which was combined with considerable talent and application.

Letty was being tiresome. Their parents had been gone for a mere three days, and already she was inflicting her own narrow way of thinking on them. Angry at not being left in charge of Pemberley

and the family, she was nonetheless determined to take control of her sisters.

Would Fanny stand up to her? Camilla doubted it. Letty was quite as strong-minded as any of the Darcys, which was to say strong-minded indeed; it was unfortunate that her inclinations tended so very strongly to restriction and repression and a numbing belief in propriety and restrained behaviour.

Miss Griffin, a tall, gaunt woman with clever eyes, intervened. "I did mention the matter of Signor Silvestrini to Mr. Darcy before his departure," she said in her deep voice. "He felt that we should approach him on the matter of lessons, and that, if he would consent to teach Alethea, for he takes very few new pupils, then it should be arranged."
Alethea let out a yip of delight, Letty frowned, Fanny — who hated dissension and, as an only child, felt uneasy when the sisters argued — brightened. "That's quite settled then. Only tell me when you would like the carriage, Miss Griffin; I shall leave it all to you."

Camilla could see the light of battle in Letty's eye and feared that a protesting letter would be off to Vienna by the next post, there to await her parents' arrival.
"I think," said Fanny, when presently she found herself alone in the room with Camilla, "that it would be very fortunate if we were to find a suitable young man for Letitia. To help her get over Tom's loss, you know, and give her thoughts a new direction. Since he was a military man, I'm inclined to think I should look around among my acquaintance in the regiments; should she be likely to fancy a fine, well-set-up hussar, do you suppose?"

Copyright © 2003 by AE Books Ltd

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Table of Contents

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Introduction

Mr. Darcy's Daughters

Discussion Points

  1. Which characters did you want to see end up together? Why do you think they would have made (or do make) a good couple? In the end, do you think any of the characters were kept from the match that was best for them? What keeps them apart — is it due more to social or personal reasons?
  2. In what ways do the characters' views of courtship and marriage foreshadow modern-day notions of these institutions? Which character expresses the most conservative views on the subjects? Who holds the most progressive views?
  3. Do you think family politics plays a large role in present-day marriages? If not, what has replaced this as the primary influence on the decision to marry? In choosing their relationships, do any of the characters in the novel avoid the pressures of their family's demands? If so, how is this accomplished? What does each character seek in a relationship, and do you think their final choices give them what theydesire?
  4. What function do the Fitzwilliams serve in the novel, and how does their treatment of the Darcy sisters reflect the changes in each girl's behavior over the course of the novel? How and why do the Fitzwilliams change their expectations of the girls' stay in London from the time the girls arrive until the end of the novel?
  5. Do you imagine the sisters would have acted much differently around their parents? In what ways would they likely have acted the same? Which factor seemed more influential in dictating the girls' behavior — the newfound allure of city life or the lack of parental supervision?
  6. Despite their many differences, the Darcy sisters share acertain headstrong attitude. How does the stubbornness of each sister manifest itself? Do you think the sisters are more alike or different? How does each sister's age influence the role she assumes in the family? For instance, how might Letty's relative experience and Alethea's relative youth sway their actions and their general outlooks?
  7. The novel is filled with reversals of fortune, outrageous social scenes and loves lost and gained. Choose what you feel were the three most dramatic moments in the narrative. Which characters were affected, and how did each incident change the future course of events? In what way did the socialstructures of the day and age affect those moments? How do you think you would have gotten along in such an era? How would your personality benefit you, and how would it harm you?
  8. Alethea dresses as a man to enjoy advantages she might not be granted otherwise. Which character is most sympathetic to her ruse? Which character is, or would be, least accepting of this deception? How have opportunities changed for women in society, and how have they stayed the same? Are there certain basic issues between the sexes that are unlikely to ever change, or will new eras always bring new arrangements?
  9. Sir Sidney Leigh, the Reverend Valpy and Aunt Lydia are all ostracized for their behavior at some point in the novel. What was it about their actions that caused them to lose esteem in the eyes of others? What social judgments made in the novel would still be made today, and which wouldn't? Which character most greatly earned your disdain for their actions and why? How much is your decision influenced by the historical time in which you live?
  10. At one point, Mrs. Delamere warns: "Long engagements do no good, take my word for it." Is her advice proven? Which character's experience best reflects her concern? What are the various troubles unique to those who have long engagements?
  11. In what ways does Aston stay true to the spirit and style of Jane Austen? In what ways is her style most distinctive from Austen's work? What do you think would be the most challenging aspect of writing a sequel to a book like Pride and Prejudice?
  12. How does the last line spoken by Camilla reflect on the larger themes of the novel?

Elizabeth Aston is a passionate Jane Austen fan who studied with Austen biographer Lord David Cecil at Oxford. The author of several novels, including Mr. Darcy's Daughters, she lives in England and Italy.

Visit www.elizabeth-aston.com for more information.

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Reading Group Guide

Mr. Darcy's Daughters

Discussion Points

  1. Which characters did you want to see end up together? Why do you think they would have made (or do make) a good couple? In the end, do you think any of the characters were kept from the match that was best for them? What keeps them apart — is it due more to social or personal reasons?
  2. In what ways do the characters' views of courtship and marriage foreshadow modern-day notions of these institutions? Which character expresses the most conservative views on the subjects? Who holds the most progressive views?
  3. Do you think family politics plays a large role in present-day marriages? If not, what has replaced this as the primary influence on the decision to marry? In choosing their relationships, do any of the characters in the novel avoid the pressures of their family's demands? If so, how is this accomplished? What does each character seek in a relationship, and do you think their final choices give them what they desire?
  4. What function do the Fitzwilliams serve in the novel, and how does their treatment of the Darcy sisters reflect the changes in each girl's behavior over the course of the novel? How and why do the Fitzwilliams change their expectations of the girls' stay in London from the time the girls arrive until the end of the novel?
  5. Do you imagine the sisters would have acted much differently around their parents? In what ways would they likely have acted the same? Which factor seemed more influential in dictating the girls' behavior — the newfound allure of city life or the lack of parental supervision?
  6. Despite their many differences, the Darcy sisters share a certain headstrong attitude. How does the stubbornness of each sister manifest itself? Do you think the sisters are more alike or different? How does each sister's age influence the role she assumes in the family? For instance, how might Letty's relative experience and Alethea's relative youth sway their actions and their general outlooks?
  7. The novel is filled with reversals of fortune, outrageous social scenes and loves lost and gained. Choose what you feel were the three most dramatic moments in the narrative. Which characters were affected, and how did each incident change the future course of events? In what way did the social structures of the day and age affect those moments? How do you think you would have gotten along in such an era? How would your personality benefit you, and how would it harm you?
  8. Alethea dresses as a man to enjoy advantages she might not be granted otherwise. Which character is most sympathetic to her ruse? Which character is, or would be, least accepting of this deception? How have opportunities changed for women in society, and how have they stayed the same? Are there certain basic issues between the sexes that are unlikely to ever change, or will new eras always bring new arrangements?
  9. Sir Sidney Leigh, the Reverend Valpy and Aunt Lydia are all ostracized for their behavior at some point in the novel. What was it about their actions that caused them to lose esteem in the eyes of others? What social judgments made in the novel would still be made today, and which wouldn't? Which character most greatly earned your disdain for their actions and why? How much is your decision influenced by the historical time in which you live?
  10. At one point, Mrs. Delamere warns: "Long engagements do no good, take my word for it." Is her advice proven? Which character's experience best reflects her concern? What are the various troubles unique to those who have long engagements?
  11. In what ways does Aston stay true to the spirit and style of Jane Austen? In what ways is her style most distinctive from Austen's work? What do you think would be the most challenging aspect of writing a sequel to a book like Pride and Prejudice?
  12. How does the last line spoken by Camilla reflect on the larger themes of the novel?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 72 )
Rating Distribution

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(23)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 72 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Very Disappointed Jane Austen Fan!!

    Originality? Nonexistant. Welcome to a practically plagiarized version of Pride and Prejudice taking place twenty years later. Harsh - I know, but true. There is almost a 100 percent lack of originality that I find alarming. Here, let me show you. There are 5 Bennet daughters...sound familiar? One of them is serious and proper, two are obscenely flirtatious, one is witty and charming, and another is a music devotee. One of them even elopes. Frankly, there is no concept of originality. Also, though Pride & Prejudice is rather light-hearted, we learn the results of a nonsensical mother and a "laisse-faire" practicing father. But Lizzy and Darcy are not the types to have neglected their children's education and upbringing. Also, Darcy's cousin Fitzwilliam seems the POLAR OPPOSITE of the original character. What was the author thinking?? I haven't read any of her other novels, (why bother?) so I can't give an informed review on them. But I certainly have no good things to say about this one. I don't expect the Jane Austin magic in a modern writer, but I DO expect the "spirit" in attempted sequels. If you want some good modern adaptations of JA novels, I recommend reading Debra White Smith!!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2008

    Falls a little short

    The book was enjoyable if you just wanted another authors opinion of how pride and prejudice continues. However, Aston took considerable liberties with her characters. She changed the personalities of beloved characters like Col. Fitzwilliam and the Gardiners. All five of the Darcy's daughters shows extreme similarities to characters in P&P. It is well written and entertaining, but it is not at all true to how Jane Austen would have written it. However, if you want Jane Austen style writing, read one of her own books.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2008

    !!AWFUL!!

    Absolutely AWFUL!!! The author has taken every hated character from Pride and Prejudice and turned them into the Darcy¿s children. The story line was poor, the daughters were UNBEARABLE, and side characters were a misery! I am quite sure that Jane Austen is still turning in her grave from this travesty. If the author was going to ¿borrow¿ another author¿s story, I would think that every attempt to keep within the theme and message of the original story would be made. This is not the case. Perhaps the writer of this steaming pile of wasted words should attempt to ruin only her own stories in the future.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2009

    It's no Pride and Prejudice!!

    The book was OK, not great. If you took Pride and Prejudice and plopped it over the book, you have your story. Many of the characters were not developed fully -- why talk about Lettie's boyfriend Busby and sort of have him at one of the balls, but don't have him approach Lettie--why was he even introduced physically. Also, Aunt Lydia was just touched upon and not fully developed. She was important to the twins, but she didn't get enough time in the book. It was a quick read, but I thought it would be better. I was disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    It was good

    I wouldn't believe that this book was written by Jane Austen, because It's in a more informal, modern writing. But it shows similarities to pride and prejudice and the relationship between Wyttin and Camilla is a great. He is a fool who doesn't know who he's in love with, and she's a headstrong girl who knows she's in love but insists that she doesn't want to hurt anyone. It's amazing how many times the darcys come close to ruin.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2008

    fan

    I thought that this was a great book. although the language was rather diffrent than that that austen would have used herself i thought that this was a good book. Somethings did not quite add up with pride and predjudice I think that it as written well and that the author just did another interpretation of chracters. Although col. Fitwilliam's ignorance of his neices really bothers me. I don't think someone that was so attracted to elizabeth would have acted that way. Overall i thought that this was a great book and I look forward to reading more of Aston's novels.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2006

    A good sequel to Pride and Prejudice

    This book was given to me as a gift by someone who knows of my love for novels by Jane Austen. I have read a few sequels before and at times have been utterly disappointed. In this case, I was not. While it was predictable in the matches and attitudes of each of the daughters, it was still an enjoyable read. The language was not exactly the right time period, but it was close enough and was easy to understand. I was slightly disappointed that Darcy and Elizabeth did not make an appearance, but perhaps it was better that way. Many authors writing sequels to Pride and Prejudice don't get Darcy and Elizabeth right and it is better to leave them out all together if it isn't going to be right. The plot was pleasing and the characters were engaging. Elizabeth Aston did an admirable job with this novel and I am looking forward to reading the next novel in the series. If you must read a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, let it be this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2004

    A 'beach' read for the Masterpiece Theater crowd

    If you enjoy tales of Regency England, I recommend this book. Not really a sequel to Pride and Prejudice , it is its own novel that uses Austen's characters. Aston is extremely well researched and her depiction of the time period is accurate, although her plot was most certainly written for a modern audience. While some of the more scandalous plot lines were certainly NOT out of place for the time period (ie, there really were homosexuals in the early 19th century), they most definitely would never have been written about by a regency author. Luckily, Elizabeth and Darcy do not appear in the novel at all, so we are not forced into a comparison with Austen herself. Mr. Darcy's Daughters is a good, fun, quick read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is the BEST Pride and Prejudice Continuation Series out there!

    LOVE all the books in this series. Amazing author. Great story lines. Truly amazing characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Mr. Darcy's Daughters and all ***SIX*** books in the series!

    I love this book!(and the entire series!), which I have read at least twice in the short time I have owned them! "Mr. Darcy's Daughters" gives the reader a glimpse into the liveliness and youthfulness of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy's girls, as this author has invisioned them, each endearing in their own way, filled with liveliness, gaiety, and even intrigue. They have their own ups and downs just like any young person today would have...many new characters are introduced in this first book, and some of the characters are continued on in the following five books in the series. If you like the continuance of reading about the family of Darcy and Elizabeth, you will enjoy the light reading of these fictitious novels by Elizabeth Aston. Delightful reads!

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    ASTON VS AUSTIN

    There is something of the grave robber in a writer who pens a sequel to a dead author's story. I am talking about Elizabeth Aston who wrote "Mr. Darcy's Daughters: A Novel," intended as a sequel to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." I noted with interest that Elizabeth calls herself "Aston" while Jane, of course, was an "Austen." Cleverly chosen penname, I assume?

    Still, remembering Colton's maxim that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and keeping on hand a good dose of Coleridge's "suspension of disbelief," I thought Aston pulled it off quite well.

    In "Mr. Darcy's Daughters," the girls are perfectly modeled on the original Bennett girls of "Pride and Prejudice." Our modern Aston pretty much matches the 19th Century voice with a bit more modernity and some juicy scandal thrown into the plot. I was fine with both. While the Darcy twins at times were exasperating to the point where you want to smack them, after all is revealed and hurt feelings have been soothed, they were not that much wilder than their parents' generation.

    Aston is not Austen, but she doesn't try to be. Unlike Austen, Aston is not a social critic or a writer who explores manners and mores of her time. She describes her creation as "full of societal intrigue and romantic high jinks," in other words an entertaining romance, and this she delivers. Elizabeth Aston is a skilled writer who gives us an entertaining good read. Graham Greene, whom I would call a great writer of an important body of literature, did not want his works labeled as such. He simply called them entertainments. I think what's good enough for Greene is good enough for Aston.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyable Read, Especially at a Bargin Price

    I bought this book this past summer, and I just now got around to reading it. Nice plot that doesn't mess with Austen's original story. Not quite as good as some other Austen continuations but worth a read.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Just read Pride and Prejudice

    This book is a joke. It is almost an exact replica of P & P. These are supposedly the daughters of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. NOT IN A MILLION YEARS, would their daughters conduct themselves in the manner of these girls. Not only this...the story is incredibly unoriginal. The eldest (just like Jane) is the prettiest and most composed. She ruins this, though, by making her a complete paranoid worrywart, tending toward religious fanaticism. The second (Elizabeth) is the more sensible, realistic, and clever. One of the younger girls is a shadow of Mary. Only absorbed in music as opposed to books. The other two are mirror images of Kitty and Lydia. Wild, unabashed, with little care for society's rules, their parents respectability, their Aunt's authority or the reprecussions of their behavior. Right down to a supposed elopement to Gretna Green....this book was almost like reading Pride and Prejudice over again, except not nearly as well written.
    If I save ONE Jane Austen fan the time and money that will be wasted on this book, I will be happy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2009

    The Continuing Story of the Darcy Family

    I am on my 5th book regarding the Darcy family. The author did a great job continuing with the Darcy story. I'm hoping to find out more about the Darcy boys. I've enjoyed reading of the good and bad times of Letty, Camilla, Georgina, Belle and Alethea. Alethea's tale is by far the most adventurous.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2009

    This is supposed to be one of those stories that you cry and laugh when you read it......I only cried

    So much for originality!!! Miss Aston totally copied all the Bennet sisters personalities and gave them to the five(hmm,sound familiar)Darcy daughters!!! I think this book made Jane Austen turn in her grave!!! I'm very disappointed by this book. I am one of the biggest P&P fans ever. I know P&P like the back of my hadn and this totally copied it with a little more scandals then P&P. I dont think Elizabeth and Darcy would let their daughters act like that after what happened to Lydia and Georgina with Wickham. I think this author must have benn on something when writing this book. I wouldnt recommend to anybody because it was so terrible. Im never reading another book by Miss aston ever again. That was two hours of my life i will not get back!!! awful and just plain disappointing!!! Do NOT read!!! One person i which she would have not changed is Col. Fitzwilliam!!! she made him seem like he was totally arrogant and rude!! the thing is he loved Lizzy in P&P.... i dont that this authors reasoning!! PLEASE DO NOT READ!!!!

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  • Posted November 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Ever-Expanding World of Pride and Prejudice

    To quote Elizabeth Bennet in the original Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, "The more I see of the world, the more I am..." realizing how inexplicably popular Pride and Prejudice is. I have to say, though, that what Ms Aston has written is wonderful. Most authors have 'sexed' up the original story, leaving it not so original and very much unflattering to Jane Austen's hard work. Therefore, I think that I can say confidently that Ms Aston has stayed true to Ms Austen without totally losing her own voice. I can agree with all of the other reviewers on one fact: I did think it was quite odd that the Darcy sisters would turn out so wild as the Bennet sisters had. Mr and Mrs Bennet were both silly, so it made sense that Mary, Kitty, and Lydia would be wayward. Mr and Mrs Darcy, though, were both intelligent and wealthy, which makes the mind wonder why some of their daughters were as silly as their aunts. Besides that, I loved the story and was happy that the Darcys were still alive with love and joy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2008

    Extreme dissapointment!

    The back of the book says '..a tale that would please Jane Austen herself.' I do not believe there is any part of this novel that Jane Austen would even like associated with Pride & Prejudice. Letty, what a terrible character! She is irritating, self righteous, and I could hardly finish the book, for all her preaching and whining. Lydia, in P&P was silly, young, had a sense of mischief, in this book she is extremely malicious, (the likes of Caroline Bingley would be proud of her), evil to all but two of her nieces. This author seemed as if she did not understand the characters in P&P, she should not have been writing the sequel! I would NEVER read another book by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2008

    This author was having delusions of grandeur

    The only thing Pride & Prejudice about this work were character names. A good writer should have a thorough understanging of human nature. After all Jane Austen did. There is no way Darcy and Lizzie would have let their children out in such a disgraceful fashion. This author forgets that the younger Bennet girls turned out that way due to parental neglect. Lizzie and Jane saw this. Both sisters would be more careful with their own children. Ah three hours of my life I cant get back.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2007

    I though it was good.

    While yes it was a little untrue to some of the original p&p characters I still thought it was a great book. I think she changed Mrs. Gardner quite a bit but I mean her daughter is older now and about to married and time has passed, people can change over time. Col. Fitzwilliams change was pretty crazy, and I can't really see him being the way she portrayed him at all. I guess having children and being twice married could change some of his views though. As for it being basically the same premise of p&p I think that was the point, giving the old classic a fresh spin and more scandal. I like the sisters characters even Gerogina and Belle, because even though they are somewhat like the Bennet sisters they are completely different and I kind of liked the Darcy sisters better. I loved the book even though the ending was a little rushed to me, But all in all it was a good read and I'll probably take it up many times more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    this book was only ok at its best though i could not agree with what they did to Col Fitzwilliam who would never be so cynical and how he can like Letty when all though p&p he liked Elizabeth for acting in just the way that Camilla acts but now he dislikes Camilla so much it makes no sense and brining Lydia back but remarried was a huge mastake why kill off wickam he was always good for a few laughs well the five sisters are just the remakes of the origianal five sisters though the eldest reputed to be a great bueaty and said to take after Jane acts like Mary the twins are ovisly Lydia and Kitty but at there very worst and Althea is i think soupose to be Jane but in a more spirited role as you can see that her and Camillia are the only sisters that get along also the gardenrs are horrible i always loved Mrs Gairdiner in P&p but now i can not seem to like her at all they took away her symbathy evey one seems to hate Camillia but she is just like Lizzy and Lizzy was beloved Caroline was herindiouse and i wished to at least see Jane in this book the only other thing that relly bothered me is that the time poird was off the book was set in the early eighteen hundreds if it is truly twenty years later it would be at least the eighteen thirtys and the only way the oldest could be twenty one is if she had her right after she married which i find highly unlikly though if you like Pride and Prejudece sequles pick this one up

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