My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them."
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Had Jane Austen taken the minor character of Georgiana Darcy, younger sister to Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice and filled her out with thoughts, opinions and substance, it would not have surprised me in the least had her sentiments of possible suitors been much the same as Elizabeth Bennet's surmisation of Darcy's feelings of his own (above) at the end of Pride & Prejudice.
Georgiana Darcy's Diary begins in the Spring of 1814, a pastime that Georgiana takes in response to the aggravation and boredom she feels at her Aunt de Bourgh's insistence on finding her a suitable, reputable husband. Georgiana is 18 years old, and Pemberley, the home that she shares with her brother and his wife Elizabeth, is bustling with guests, most of whom have been invited by Aunt de Bourgh to rustle for Georgiana's hand in marriage.
But Georgiana Darcy doesn't want to marry just anyone, and she certainly isn't going to marry someone who has no interest in her save for her fortune. Georgiana wants the romantic dream that her brother Fitzwilliam and his wife Elizabeth found in each other, yet she fears the man she is in love with will not feel the same of her.
Georgiana starts out as a shy and insecure girl not quite ready to step into womanhood. However, as the story develops so does Georgiana: Through her associations with the Pemberley guests, Georgiana becomes more open, more confident, and more certain of what it is she wants, and more determined to secure it. Finding her own voice she is able to move on from her indiscretion with George Wickham; helps her sickly cousin Anne discover life and love; stands up to her demanding Aunt de Bourgh; and at the end of the story declares herself a woman who has found her perfect gentleman.
It is interesting that at times throughout the story, the author elected to have the characters do things, or speak of certain topics that did not fit my perception of Jane Austen's England. In fact, some things I felt would have been considered unseemly to say and/or do during that era, and aren't necessarily what I would have expected Jane Austen to write at all. However, that didn't make the story any less enjoyable for me, as they were still in keeping with the personalities of the characters that Austen had created, and didn't deviate so much that it became entirely unbelievable. The fact that Elliott decided to write the story in the form of a diary allowed Georgiana's character to be more unrestrained in what she chose to write about, and her opinions may actually reflect those that many girls the same age and of the same class had at that time, but never got to speak about.
A common mistake that I often make is to compare the author of Austen sequels to Austen herself. I had to remind myself that Anna Elliott is not Jane Austen, and it would be unfair if I were to try and compare Elliott's style to Austen's: Even Elliott acknowledges this in the author's note at the beginning of the book where she writes, "I can't begin to match Jane Austen's immortal writing style, and wouldn't even pretend to try".
In writing Georgiana Darcy's Diary, Anna Elliott has taken an important yet undeveloped character from Austen's masterpiece and given her those sentiments I would have expected her to have had Austen developed the character more herself. A quick read, Georgiana Darcy's Diary was a fun Regency romance that left me smiling, just as Austen's Pride & Prejudice has done so many times before.