My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I only have a few moments to write this, and my hands are shaking so much that I've already upset the inkwell twice. We arrived in Brussels this afternoon. And the fighting is expected to begin tomorrow. The war has truly begun.
Pemberley to Waterloo by Anna Elliott is the sequel to Georgiana Darcy's Diary, a continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Elliott's novels are written from the viewpoint of Mr Darcy's younger sister, Georgiana, in the style of a personal diary.
Pemberley to Waterloo begins during Christmas in the year 1814. Georgiana is impatiently waiting for the time when she can marry her sweetheart, Edward Fitzwilliam. For now, though, she continues to reside at Pemberley with her brother and his wife, Elizabeth, who is heavily pregnant with her first child. Elizabeth's younger sister, Kitty, is staying with them, and Caroline Bingley also stops by for a bit, as does Edward's brother, Frank.
[Regency studies by Laura Masselos - used with permission]
Edward has just returned from his army post in Ireland and is grappling with the emotional scars left by a career in warfare. Despite this, Georgiana remains excited by the prospect of their future together, especially now that the war with Napoleon appears to be over. She cannot wait to become Edward's wife - this is a love-match, truly. Georgiana has matured into a thoughtful, considerate young woman who admires her brother and sister-in-law, and finds Kitty's escapades silly and annoying. Georgiana is a listener who does not judge others when they reveal their socially awkward secrets. Always the optimist, Georgiana is a romantic who wants to see everyone happy and lucky in love, as she and her brother have been.
But then the unthinkable happens: Napoleon escapes his prison and Edward must once again return to the battlefield. Georgiana, desperately fearing for his life, risks her own and travels to Brussels in an attempt to be closer to him. As the fighting breaks out and people flee Brussels for the relative safety of Antwerp, Georgiana makes the decision to remain in the dangerzone, continuing the search for Edward amongst the injured and the dead. She sees and experiences the worst imaginable, but does so stoically and amiably - she will do no less than what Edward would do in return, constantly finding strength in the belief that love conquers all adversities.
[Claddagh ring by Laura Masselos - used with permission]
By writing Pemberley to Waterloo in the format of a diary, Elliott provides her readers with a clear insight into her heroine's true thoughts and feelings. It also allows for greater scope to consider issues relevant to the era, particularly those pertaining to the role of women in society, social standards pertaining to marriage and children, and of the horrors of war, complicated by the medical inadequacies of the time.
I also really enjoy the fact that these "diaries" are beautifully illustrated, setting the scene more perfectly, putting faces to the characters, and bringing to life the Regency era. How can you not admire the time, dedication and skill that Laura Masselos has put into these pictures? I wholeheartedly feel the story would be incomplete without them.
A perfect Valentine's Day read!
[Georgiana & Edward by Laura Masselos - used with permission]