The Pemberley Chronicles (Pemberley Chronicles #1)by Rebecca Collins
"Those with a taste for the balance and humour of Austen will find a worthy companion volume."-Book News
The weddings are over.
The guests (including millions of readers and viewers) wish the two happy couples health and happiness. As the music swells and the credits roll, two things are certain: Jane and Bingley will want for/strong>
"Those with a taste for the balance and humour of Austen will find a worthy companion volume."-Book News
The weddings are over.
The guests (including millions of readers and viewers) wish the two happy couples health and happiness. As the music swells and the credits roll, two things are certain: Jane and Bingley will want for nothing, while Elizabeth and Darcy are to be the happiest couple in the world!
The couples' personal stories of love, marriage, money, and children are woven together with the threads of social and political history of nineteenth century England. As changes in industry and agriculture affect the people of Pemberley and the neighboring countryside, the Darcys strive to be progressive and forward-looking while upholding beloved traditions.
Rebecca Ann Collins follows them in imagination, observing and chronicling their passage through the landscape of their surroundings, noting how they cope with change, triumph, and tragedy in their lives.
"A lovely complementary novel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Austen would surely give her smile of approval." -Beverly Wong, author of Pride & Prejudice Prudence
Read an Excerpt
The Pemberley Chronicles
A Companion Volume to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
By Rebecca Ann Collins
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2008 Rebecca Ann Collins
All rights reserved.
Since her marriage to Mr Darcy some seven weeks ago, Elizabeth had wanted for nothing to complete her happiness, unless it was a chance to see her sister Jane again. Which is why her excitement increased markedly as they drove into London and around mid-morning found themselves approaching Mr Bingley's house in Grosvenor Street. Her husband could not conceal his amusement, as she cried out, "There they are!" like a little girl on her first visit to the city. As the carriage pulled up, she could barely wait to be helped out, before she flung herself into the welcoming arms of her sister.
Charles Bingley, who had been waiting beside Jane, smiled broadly as he exchanged greetings with Darcy, now his brother-in-law. They waited for the sisters to break from their warm and tearful embrace, the men's expressions of indulgent affection mixed with a degree of helplessness. It was Mr Bingley who intervened as the servants unloaded the travellers' trunks onto the footpath. Putting a solicitous arm around his wife and her sister, he said, "Shall we go indoors and let the luggage be taken upstairs?" He led them indoors, while Darcy followed, carrying Elizabeth's silk shawl, which had slipped off her shoulders as the sisters embraced.
They passed from the open hall into the comfort of a warm, pleasant room, where a fire crackled in the grate and a sideboard with an ample array of food and drink welcomed the travellers. While the gentlemen helped themselves to sherry and warmed themselves in front of the fire, Jane and Lizzie escaped upstairs, ostensibly so that Lizzie could divest herself of her travelling clothes and boots.
There was nothing the sisters wanted more than the privacy of a bedroom, where they hugged and kissed again as the words tumbled out, with neither able to wait for the other to finish a sentence. There was mutual acknowledgement that they had missed each other, they were both blissfully happy, they had the best husbands in the world, and they wished everyone could be as blessed as they were. The only matter upon which they could not agree was the question of which of them was the happier.
There was so much to tell, but it had to wait awhile; Jane promised they would have the afternoon to themselves as Bingley had planned to take Darcy out to his club to meet mutual friends.
Coming downstairs, they found Georgiana Darcy and Mrs Annesley come to call; they were staying in town at Mr Darcy's elegant townhouse in Portman Square and had been invited over by Jane to meet the returning couple. Georgiana, whose love for her brother was matched only by her devotion to her sister-in-law, whom she regarded as the sister she had always longed for, greeted Elizabeth with warmth and affection. Jane, looking on, wished she too could feel the same confidence of gaining the affection and approval of her in-laws, Caroline Bingley and Mrs Hurst. She felt not a little sadness as she saw the obvious satisfaction that Darcy felt as Lizzie and Georgiana embraced and talked together for all the world like loving sisters.
But, being Jane, she soon shook herself free of any trace of melancholy, as her husband came to her side and whispered, "I've arranged to take Georgiana and Mrs Annesley back to Portman Square, after which Darcy and I will go on to Brooks for an hour or two — that should give you and Lizzie plenty of time together. How would you like that, my love?" Jane replied that she would like it very much indeed and added her heartfelt thanks to her husband, whose sensitivity was a source of constant pleasure. As she said later to Lizzie, "I can hardly believe that he is so good and kind a man and yet preferred me above all others, knowing he could quite easily have had any of a dozen young ladies of greater substance and standing than myself." To which, Lizzie's reply was a reproachful reminder to her sister not to let her natural modesty trap her into undervaluing herself.
"For there is no one I know with a nature as good or a disposition as sweet as yours. Believe me, Jane, Mr Bingley is well aware of it and is considered, by his friends, to be a singularly fortunate man."
Earlier, they had partaken of a light luncheon of fresh rolls, sliced ham, cheese, and fruit, with tea, hot chocolate, or wine, as desired, before Georgiana and her companion left with the two gentlemen, who promised to be back in time for dinner. As the servants cleared away the remains of the repast, the two sisters returned upstairs to the comfort of Jane's boudoir to spend the rest of the afternoon in the kind of happy exchange of news and views that only two loving friends — both newly wed and blissfully happy — could hope to enjoy. Unhappily, the news from Longbourn was not good. Mrs Bennet, whose health was never the best, had not been well, having suffered from exhaustion after giving away two of her daughters at once. Their father, in his last letter to Jane, had asked that Lizzie be permitted to complete her travels undisturbed by this news.
"You know how it is, poor Mama will insist on having everyone over for Christmas; but this year, Lizzie, your kind invitation to us and Uncle and Aunt Gardiner to spend Christmas at Pemberley has relieved Mama of the strain. Because she cannot undertake the journey to Derbyshire, Papa has decided that he will remain with her at Longbourn, while Mary and Kitty will travel North with Aunt Gardiner," Jane explained. At this piece of bad news, Lizzie cried out, for she had been hoping so much to have her father at Pemberley, because she wanted him to see how happy she really was, especially in view of the doubts he had expressed at the time of Mr Darcy's proposal of marriage.
Jane offered some comfort, "Lizzie, Mr Bingley and I have talked about this. We knew how disappointed you would be if Papa could not be with you, so we have a plan. How would it be if Mr Bingley and I returned home at the New Year and had Mama to stay at Netherfield, so Papa could come to you for a few weeks?"
"Has he agreed to this?" asked her sister, somewhat surprised.
"Not yet, but we think he will, if Mr Darcy will ask him, tomorrow," said Jane. "Tomorrow?" Lizzie was astonished and more so when Jane replied, "He is to be at Aunt Gardiner's where, you will remember, we are all asked to dine tomorrow."
Elizabeth's pleasure at the news that she would see her father sooner than expected was much enhanced by the realisation that her sister Jane had gained in marriage a totally new confidence. If there was one criticism that could have been made against Jane, for all her sweetness of nature and strength of character, it was a diffidence — a reluctance to make judgements. To Elizabeth, it seemed as if this tiny flaw, if one could call it that, had disappeared since her marriage to Mr Bingley. However, she said nothing, not wanting to embarrass her sister. Besides there was so much to talk of their new lives, their husbands, their travels and so much love and happiness, that they quite forgot the time, until a maid ran upstairs to tell them the gentlemen were back.
Lizzie wished to bathe before dressing for dinner, and the luxury of a hot bath scented with lavender oils, prepared for her by Jane's maid, reminded her that this was London and not the inns of Gloucestershire or Wales, which, despite their charm, had been less than modern in their toilet facilities.
When they joined the gentlemen downstairs, they found there, to their surprise, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who had not been heard from since their weddings, when he had carried out his duties as Darcy's groomsman with aplomb.
Having greeted both sisters with affection and expressed satisfaction at finding them looking so well, he let Bingley explain his presence. "We found him at the club, where he has been staying all week," said Bingley, which led Jane to protest that he should have come to them.
"You could have stayed here, we have many empty rooms."
"I did not wish to intrude," Fitzwilliam said apologetically, "and I had no idea when Darcy and Elizabeth were expected."
"Well, you are here now, and you must stay," said Bingley firmly, as if that was the end of the matter, "until your ship is to sail." Amid cries of astonishment from the ladies of "What ship?" and "Where is he sailing to?" Fitzwilliam explained that he'd been at a loose end after the end of the war with France, and when he was offered a berth on a ship going to the new colonies of Ceylon and India, he had accepted. "That's the other side of the world!" said Jane, but Fitzwilliam assured her it was opening up fast and many people were going out there.
"I wanted a change of scene," he added by way of explanation.
It was an explanation Jane did not fully accept. Later that night, she reminded her sister that it was Charlotte's opinion that Fitzwilliam had been very partial to her, when they had been at Rosings last year, before Mr Darcy entered the picture. Elizabeth laughed and brushed it aside as a rumour, mainly a product of young Maria Lucas' romantic imagination. Fitzwilliam had left promising to return the following day to go with them to the Gardiners, to whom also he wished to say his farewells.
As they went to bed that night, Darcy and Elizabeth both agreed on the remarkable change in Jane since her marriage. It was a change Darcy welcomed for her sake and that of his friend, Bingley. "She will make him a stronger and better wife, and that will make him a stronger and better man," he said, adding more gently, "it was an aspect of your beautiful sister I used to worry about, my love, because I knew how important it was for Bingley." Ever ready to tease her husband, Elizabeth asked if he'd had any doubts about her own strength, to which Darcy replied firmly, "None at all, because, my dearest, you never left me in any doubt right from the start. Indeed, it was what I first admired in you, apart from your beautiful eyes, of course."
So pleased was his wife with this response that she stopped teasing and relaxed into the gentleness that she knew he loved. Darcy had never doubted his own feelings; Lizzie wanted him to have no doubt at all of hers. On such openheartedness was their marriage founded that concealment or archness was unthinkable.
The following day, plans were made to visit the shops on the other side of town, since the ladies wished to see the shoemakers and milliners. While breakfast was being cleared away, a carriage drew up, and, to the huge delight of their nieces, Mr and Mrs Gardiner were announced. The visitors, though unexpected, were warmly welcomed, especially by Mr Darcy. Elizabeth noted with great satisfaction the obvious pleasure with which he greeted them, and the sincerity of his welcome left no doubt in her mind of his regard and affection for them.
Mr Darcy's instant response of open friendliness and respect for her aunt and uncle, when they first met at Pemberley last Summer, had been the turning point in her own appreciation of his character. Their relationship had grown slowly and with increasing confidence upon this foundation. It had grown in strength, and each time they had met with the Gardiners, whose estimation of Darcy was of the highest order, Elizabeth found her opinion endorsed by them. That Darcy, whose family had, by his own admission to her, encouraged an inordinate level of pride in class and status, could have developed such a strong relationship with Mr and Mrs Gardiner, was remarkable in itself. That his behaviour to them was not merely correct in every particular of courtesy and etiquette, but was genuine in the friendship and affection he showed them at every turn, was proof enough for her that her husband was a man of estimable qualities. That she could be so much in love with a man she had almost loathed a year ago was well nigh miraculous!
Elizabeth knew she could have married him in spite of his low opinion of the stupidity of her sister Lydia or the silliness of her mother, but never could she have formed an alliance with anyone who did not share her love and regard for her favourite aunt and uncle. Their mutual respect was now something she took completely for granted. It was an essential part of their love for each other.
It was agreed that the ladies would drive to the shops in Mr Gardiner's carriage, while the gentlemen would stay behind to discuss matters of business. Soon, capes, shawls, and bonnets were fetched, and they set out determined that they would not be seduced into buying French fashions, which seemed to be in vogue! In the carriage together, Lizzie and Jane were keen to discover what business it was that their husbands were discussing. Mrs Gardiner was able to enlighten them, just a little. "I do not know the detail of it, my dears, but I believe your husbands have been clever enough to realise the great opportunities for trade with the new colonies and have expressed a wish to invest in your uncle's business. I think a partnership has been suggested."
"A partnership!" Both sisters were intrigued. They were well aware of the Bingleys' links with trade — it was the source of their fortune — but Darcy?
Elizabeth felt sure he would tell her all about it, when there was more to tell. Having satisfied some of their curiosity, Mrs Gardiner protested she was far more interested to hear how her favourite nieces were enjoying being married. The girls had no difficulty convincing their aunt of their current state of bliss; she could see for herself. "And what about Christmas?" she asked, to which Lizzie replied, "That's been settled — you are all to come to Pemberley at Christmas."
And so they went out to the shops in excellent humour and spent an hour or more in the pleasantest way. Lizzie bought some new boots — her own were worn with travelling, she declared, and Mrs Gardiner insisted on buying her nieces two pairs of French gloves in the most modish colours of the season. Mrs Gardiner was delighted to find Jane and Lizzie so happy. She was young enough to understand the intoxicating effects of love and marriage on two lovely young women, recently wedded to two of the most eligible young men one could hope to meet.
When they returned to Grosvenor Street, they parted almost at once, since the Gardiners had to hurry back to await Mr Bennet, who was arriving by coach around midday. Driving back to Gracechurch Street, Mr Gardiner was as anxious as his wife had been to hear the news about his nieces. "And how are Mrs Darcy and Mrs Bingley, my dear? Such grand names!" he said in jest, almost mimicking his sister, Mrs Bennet.
Mrs Gardiner was delighted to tell him of their happiness, "I am so pleased, Edward, I could not be more so if they were my own daughters. Indeed, I should be well pleased if Caroline and Emily were half as fortunate as Jane and Lizzie."
It was a verdict she was to repeat to her brother-in-law, Mr Bennet, over lunch, appreciating his keenness to hear news of his daughters. Her husband added, "And having spent quite some time with Mr Darcy recently, what with one thing and another, I can safely endorse those sentiments, Brother. There would not be two young men more deserving of your wonderful daughters than Mr Darcy and his excellent friend, Mr Bingley."
Mr Bennet waited impatiently for the evening, when he would see his beloved Jane and Lizzie again. His memories of their wedding day were a blur of activity, smiles, and the unending chattering of his wife. He had missed his daughters terribly and longed to know they were happy. When the party from Grosvenor Street arrived, Mr Bennet noted that Jane and Lizzie looked extremely well.
The young Misses Gardiner — Caroline and Emily, given special permission to dine late with their cousins — admired the exquisite jewels, gifts from their husbands, and fine gowns they wore and begged Lizzie to tell them all about the wonderful places she had visited.
After dinner, there came the usual request for music. Lizzie obliged with a song and invited Caroline and Emily to join her in a pretty ballad, which they had all learned last Summer. It was a great success, and an encore was immediately demanded. Fitzwilliam, who had a fine tenor voice, was pressed into service next; he delighted everyone by singing a pretty little duet with young Miss Caroline Gardiner, whose sweet, clear voice harmonised perfectly with his. Mr and Mrs Gardiner looked so proud that Jane, sitting with her aunt, thought she would surely weep with joy, but she merely gripped her niece's hand very tightly and applauded enthusiastically when it was over. Colonel Fitzwilliam bowed deeply and kissed Miss Gardiner's little hand in a very gallant gesture, at which Bingley jumped to his feet and applauded again.
Excerpted from The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins. Copyright © 2008 Rebecca Ann Collins. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Rebecca Ann Collins is the pen name of a lady in Australia who loves Jane Austen's work so much that she has written a series of 10 sequels to Pride and Prejudice, following Austen's beloved characters, introducing new ones and bringing the characters into a new historical era. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this series has been extremely successful in Australia with over 80,000 books sold.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >