She would be as these old mumpers — old and alone. She would have to rely on the charity of her neighbors when no one else cared for her.
And it was all Lydia’s fault.
She flung herself headlong onto her bed. The pillow muffled her wrenching sobs. Such was the mumpers’ blessing.
(from Twelfth Night at Longbourn, pages 12-13)
Twelfth Night at Longbourn is Volume IV of Maria Grace’s Given Good Principles series, which are variations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. To fully understand the world Grace has created with Austen’s beloved characters, readers should read the previous books — Darcy’s Decision, The Future Mrs. Darcy, and All the Appearance of Goodness — in order.
With the older Bennet sisters all happily married, Kitty is the only one to be shunned by their neighbors and contend with eventual spinsterhood as a result of their youngest sister Lydia’s elopement. With Mrs. Bennet confined to bed with her nerves and Mr. Bennet in his own world as usual, Kitty is more isolated than ever, but when Elizabeth invites her to spend Twelfth Night at Pemberley, she jumps at the chance to socialize with people who will not judge her based on her sister’s actions.
Kitty is to spend Christmas in London with Georgiana Darcy before journeying to Pemberley, and while there, she renews her acquaintance with Mr. Bingley and his sister Louisa, who have problems of their own. Kitty longs to become a more elegant, refined Catherine, but it is difficult to leave her old life behind, especially as Miss Darcy proves herself to be as silly and careless as Lydia. It’s not long before her plans for the holiday are in ruins, and she will have to learn that Kitty is just as worthy as Catherine.
Grace has quickly become one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. Her love of Austen’s characters and the Regency era shine through in all of her novels, but Twelfth Night at Longbourn is special in that she brings Kitty Bennet to life. Kitty blossoms within these pages, and it was easy to ignore the fact that Elizabeth and Darcy are relegated to the background. Grace beautifully details Kitty’s transformation from a lonely girl to a strong woman unwavering in her loyalty to the people she loves and willing to forgive those who have hurt her.
I may not have particularly liked Grace’s portrayal of Georgiana, but making her less shy and more exuberant helps one to understand how she could have been fooled by Mr. Wickham. My dislike of Georgiana was easily forgotten by how much I enjoyed spending time with the Bingleys and the Gardiners. Twelfth Night at Longbourn wraps up the series perfectly, leaving readers in no doubt of what happens to all of the characters and satisfied with the outcome, even though the couples were paired differently. Even so, I would love for Grace to revisit the characters as she portrayed them here and show us how they fared years down the road.
Disclosure: I received Twelfth Night at Longbourn from the author for review.
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