In this charming and praiseworthy debut novel, author Melanie Kerr pens a prequel to Pride and Prejudice that surprisingly is not centered on Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth Bennet! Instead she chooses to flesh-out and fill in the histories of Caroline Bingley, George Wickham, and Georgiana Darcy. (Not one Bennet will you find here!) And while we do see our reserved and illustrious Mr. Darcy on the page quite a bit, this prequel focuses on other characters, especially three women: Caroline Bingley, Georgiana Darcy, and Clare Langford, Georgiana’s dearest friend from school.
Since I felt three distinct story-lines with three different heroines in this novel, I thought I’d break down my review in a similar fashion.
Caroline Bingley: In this prequel we witness Caroline’s first visit to Pemberley and introduction to Georgiana Darcy. As expected, Caroline’s ambitions and pursuit of Mr. Darcy are in full force. But when her heart is touched by another – a man with no title, wealth, or estate – Caroline’s interest in Mr. Darcy begins to waver. And while this unsuitable yet extremely charming man is a Class A Fortune Hunter, he finds himself quite liking the idea of marriage with Caroline… While there wasn’t anything unique about Caroline’s ambitions and interactions with Mr. Darcy, I greatly enjoyed the twist of her falling in love with an unsuitable man! I enjoyed seeing a softer portrayal of Caroline Bingley and witnessing her become “crossed in love.”
Georgiana Darcy: Here we see Georgiana become reacquainted and enamored with George Wickham. We see how the perfidious Mrs. Younge is the prime instigator and promoter of this match and how Georgiana, with her eagerness to grow up, experience love, and be Wickham’s savior, was so easily worked on. (Boy, Mrs. Younge is a nasty piece of work!) I enjoyed how Ms. Kerr portrayed Wickham, I liked that he was a reluctant participant to this scheme.
Clare Langford: By far, this is my favorite story-line in the novel!!! Clare, a daughter of an admiral with limited prospects and no property, comes to live with Georgiana in London and serve as a companion. Clare greatly enjoys her time with Georgiana and her family, but she starts to feel uneasy around Georgiana’s cousin, Lord Ashwell (Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brother) because of all the scandalous rumors she hears about him. In addition, Clare does not approve of Georgiana’s growing friendship with George Wickham, and when she expresses caution it drives a wedge between her and Georgiana…
Clare is definitely the true heroine of this piece, she wins us over with her substance, moral center, and true friendship. She felt reminiscent of Georgette Heyer heroines to me – artless, perceptive, and not easily thwarted; and I completely admired and adored her! In addition, I loved Lord Ashwell, the black sheep in the Fitzwilliam family. I was dying to learn what he did in his past and why there were so many rumors circulating about him! And I thought it was brilliant how the author kept in suspense so long! The scenes with Lord Ashwell were splendid, what an intriguing character, I was deeply invested and moved by hime and his story-line.
I loved how well this thoughtful and illuminating prequel tied into Pride and Prejudice, the new character additions and fleshed-out histories were both creative and believable. I greatly enjoyed learning things like: why Colonel Fitzwilliam is appointed to be Georgiana’s guardian instead of his older brother and how Darcy came arrive in Ramsgate earlier than expected. The answers were equally satisfying and fitting. I also loved seeing some life put into to Anne de Bourgh and hearing about her not-so-dull existence.
I sincerely hope we will see more from Melanie Kerr soon, I absolutely loved her heartwarming tale and endearing characters! I’d definitely recommend this prequel if you are looking for a enthralling story aboutPride and Prejudice’s lesser known characters!!