Edward picked up his sword. “I will see to it.” He put the gun in a holster under his jacket. “I assume you have a weapon, Darcy.” He did not wait for a response before he strode to the door. Without turning around he said, “If anyone has laid a finger on Georgiana, he will know my fury.” The sound of the door slamming throughout the small inn brought the world to a stand still.
(from The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, page 287)
The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy is a sequel to Christmas at Pemberley, which was a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In Christmas at Pemberley, Regina Jeffers expanded on several of Austen’s secondary characters and threw in a few of her own creation. In The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Jeffers brings back some of her original characters and introduces several more, weaving them into what becomes a macabre tale, making it very different from the Austen-inspired novels I’ve read thus far.
Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy are enjoying their new son and preparing for Kitty Bennet’s wedding at Pemberley when the Wickhams arrive unexpectedly. After the pair are kicked off the Pemberley grounds, Mr. Bennet confronts Mrs. Bennet, who doesn’t understand why her youngest daughter must be excluded from the festivities. Mrs. Bennet must come to terms with her past foolishness regarding Lydia’s rushed nuptials and soon discovers that the life of her dearest child isn’t sunshine and roses.
Darcy has more than Wickham and business dealings to occupy his thoughts. He and Elizabeth soon learn that his beloved sister, Georgiana, is missing and presumed dead. Now the wife of Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, Georgiana is no longer Darcy’s responsibility, but he is not ready to give her up to another man. Georgiana traveled to Scotland to prepare Alpin Hall for her husband’s return from the war at Waterloo, and Darcy had already grown concerned that she hadn’t written. The Darcys learn that Georgiana fled to the moors on horseback after receiving a letter informing her of her husband’s death, and she never returned. Darcy and Elizabeth set off to find Georgiana — but Wickham, determined that Darcy will not best him again, believes there might be something in it for him if he finds her first.
Meanwhile, evil things are happening at Normanna Hall, the estate neighboring Alpin Hall that is the home of the MacBethans. A young woman is in shackles with no recollection of how she came to be there. The matriarch of the MacBethan clan, Dolina, has plans for the woman, but her eldest son, Domhnall, still grieving the death of his wife and heir, wants to repair the damage Dolina has caused to the family name. However, Domhnall is torn between loyalty to family and stopping the horrors in castle’s dungeons.
The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy is an exciting book that removes Austen’s beloved characters from their peaceful lives and puts them in the midst of unimaginable horrors and grave danger. Jeffers does a wonderful job creating a dark, creepy, and fearful atmosphere but allowing the blood and gore to happen off the pages. It’s not the type of mystery that challenges you to put together a series of clues sprinkled throughout the narrative, but one in which you simply sit back and enjoy the ride. The horror aspect of the story, based on legend, was a great touch, one that I hadn’t yet experienced in an Austen-inspired novel.
What I most loved about The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy was Jeffers’ handling of the characters. Darcy and Elizabeth are just how I imagined they would be after the events in Pride and Prejudice, content and playful with one another. Wickham is more evil than in Austen’s portrayal, but maybe that’s because he’s front and center in this book and more in the background of Pride and Prejudice. I like what Jeffers did with Lydia and Mrs. Bennet, but her handling of a more mature and in-love Georgiana is where the book shines. Darcy is forced to contend with the fact that Georgiana isn’t a little girl anymore, and I found his coming to terms with her relationship with Edward — who is struggling himself to come to terms with the horrors of war — to be endearing.
I recognized Jeffers’ writing talent when I read (and loved) Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, and with The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, she has become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired novels. It’s true that this book doesn’t need the Austen connection to be a good novel, but I enjoy watching Austen’s characters take on a life of their own in these variations.
Disclosure: I received The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy from Ulysses Press for review.
© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.