Excessively Diverted by Juliette Shapiro

This sequel recounts the first year of Elizabeth, née Bennet, and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s marriage. Many things happen in that short time; four engagements/marriages, a reconciliation, two births and a death. There are many problems along the way, but all ends happily.

Most of the Pride and Prejudice characters are present here. I am happy to say that the Darcys do not disappoint the reader. Elizabeth is still lively and teasing, though not quite so witty as Jane Austen originally portrayed her. Darcy, if it is possible, has actually improved. He becomes playful and less serious. This is very apparent when Mrs. Quinn, Elizabeth’s maternity nurse, finds Darcy at his wife’s bedside gazing intently as she nurses the newborn heir. When the astonished Mrs. Quinn comments, “Oh! If you do not mind, Sir, the usual manner of husbands on these occasions is to take a glass of wine downstairs. This is not the place for a man.” Without diverting his eyes, Darcy replies, “And of what are you afraid, Mrs. Quinn? Do you imagine that I have not seen my wife’s breast before!”

Mr. Collins, true to character, is still an interfering, manipulative know-it-all. Georgiana is still very shy. The sisters, Kitty, Mary and Lydia are as peevish, moralizing and self-absorbed as ever. Of course, Charlotte remains sensible while Caroline Bingley persists in being vindictive. The Bingleys, Jane and Charles, are good-natured and tolerant. Mr. Bennet’s temperament changes little; he is still aloof but not nearly so witty and amusing as the original. The Gardiners are only mentioned and Colonel Fitzwilliam appears briefly.

A young, rich and handsome landowner, Edwin Hanworth is one of several new characters introduced in this sequel. He is well received by Mr. Darcy and is generally admired by all, especially Georgiana.

In the author’s “Additional Notes”, Juliette Shapiro writes that the characters adhere to their creator’s wishes: Kitty and Mary marry and the Bingleys move to an estate close to Pemberley.

Even though there are references to events in both Jane Austen’s novel and Andrew Davies’ 1995 adaptation, there are several unexpected alliances and an unlikely reconciliation. One finds enough twists and turns to make this a worthwhile read.

Excessively Diverted is available from Amazon.com or Virtual Bookworm.com

Softcover – 236 pages (September 2002)
Virtualbookworm.com Publishing Inc.
ISBN 1-58939-264-7

Linda Waldemar runs the Sequels and Reviews page at the Republic of Pemberley. An avid reader with an amazing collection of Jane Austen related literature, her favorite JA novel is Pride and Prejudice, with Persuasion coming in a close second.

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