The Ladies Of Longbourn (The Pemberley Chronicles #4)
This book picks up from where the previous book left out and like the previous volume it is a book that combines a serviceable romantic plot with a lot of extraneous elements that are highly irritating, especially the book’s blatant political biases. This book is a classic example of a book where less would have been so much more. Without the author’s strident pro-radical and anti-conservative bias, the book would have been easy to celebrate, but as a book with a heavy-handed political bias that I am personally hostile to, the book is irritating where it should be pleasant. That is a serious flaw, and as it is a flaw in the book as a whole, it is a wonder that no one (not even the author’s agent or editor) thought it worthwhile to explain to the author that those who are fond of Regency and Victorian fiction as well as Jane Austen might even be more conservative and traditional than the average contemporary reader. Who is this author aiming a book at? Other non-traditional writers who love Jane Austen but who can’t bear to imagine themselves caught up or endorsing relationships conducted on prudential grounds? Clearly the author has failed to understand something key about the time she is writing about, for all of her interest in Darcy family.
Apparently learning nothing from the suffering of her father Jonathan Bingley in an unhappy marriage, Anne-Marie marries a decent man who she does not love and who does not love her and she is made miserable by it. Knowing this author as we do, we know that he is not long for this world and lo and behold, he dies barely a year into their unhappy marriage. Anne-Marie is driven to help with the medical care of the people of Hertfordshire, and she manages to catch the interest of the new Tory MP of the area, one Colin Elliott. Given the heavy-handed approach of the author, we know that they will end up getting married (they do) and that Colin will eventually leave the Tories and become a radical (he does). An author who was more savvy and less of a partisan blockhead would show that decent people can be Tories (and an accurate-minded person would understand that Tories are often far more decent than Radicals in all sense of the word, but that is far beyond the moral imagination of this author), and a less brutal author would not kill off all of the decent people in less than wonderful marriages.
Again, this book is a perfectly serviceable if unspectacular romance novel that is dragged down by its extraneous elements and by the lunkheadedness of its author. The course of the novel is mostly predictable, there are a lot of deaths of people we do not care particularly about, and everything ends happily and all too conveniently. For me, at least, the best part of this novel came when Colin and a group of other people (including the local newspaperman, whom Colin is friends with and possibly the patron of) engage in a dramatic rescue of some children who have been kidnapped by a violent father and a criminal collaborator, and of course Lydia finds herself involved (of course), but even this is a heavy-handed and rather wooden portrayal. Unfortunately, the limited moral imagination of the author and her lack of understanding of the richness and complexity of human life thanks to her blinkered and narrow-minded perspective makes her novels far less insightful and enjoyable as the ones she is so clearly and so unsuccessfully imitating.