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Vilja Reads

I'm a student, so I don't have nearly as much time for leisure reading as I'd like. If I manage to read an entire course book instead of just the assigned chapters, I'll review that here, too.

Mr. Darcy's Daughters

Mr Darcy's Daughters - Elizabeth Aston Three and a half stars, maybe.

Elizabeth Bennet Darcy's five daughters are all -- mostly -- grown-up and in town, staying with relatives while their parents are in Constantinople on business. The teasing Camilla -- shadows of her mother -- longs to travel, while the eldest, prudish but dramatic Letitia, would rather be back home in the country. The middle twins are ready to give their Aunt Lydia a run for her money when it comes to flightiness, while the youngest, the headstrong and talented Alethea, has secrets of her own.

I can't help but look for signs of Harlequin guidelines in published Jane Austen fanfiction, and while this novel was too complex and not focused enough on romance for Harlequin, the guideline of having the hero be a dominating man of the world was certainly followed. Never mind; the hero is not as bad as most of them.

There is so much going on in the novel aside from the central romance that I for one was never bored. Yes, it's marriages and scandals and purchasing ribbons, but that doesn't make it any less action-filled, especially once the individual plots develop towards a more and more disastrous conclusion, until nothing short of a miracle or two can save Mr Darcy's face. It's also refreshing that the lead, Camilla, spends most of the book not being in love, being much more concerned with managing the balance between Letitia, the twins, and unscrupulous fortune-hunting clergymen.

If I should offer criticism, it's that history-repeats romances/characters are a tad overdone, even though here each character does emerge as a distinct personality. A more serious personal upset in reading this was that the disgusted response to one character's homosexuality was only weakly questioned. Then again, had everyone been magically all right with it, I might have complained that the novel painted too rosy a picture of bygone bigotry!

The crowning glory of the story is young Alethea who, while forced to the background due to still being in the schoolroom, takes over every scene she enters. I think the author may have accidentally created a character too great for the setting. In the end (spoiler alert) a beau is conjured for her out of nowhere, probably to ensure that her sisters need not lose face because Alethea has run off to Europe to become a great modern day La Maupin, crossdressing, seducing women, and singing opera before all the world's royals. I choose to imagine this plot failed and she did nothing less than just that.