Author: Ava Farmer
Publisher: Chawton House Press
For over twenty six years, Ava Farmer has cherished, loved and engrossed herself in the writings of Jane Austen. As a tribute to her obviously favorite author and her abundance of meticulous research over decades, Farmer has written an extensive sequel to the famous Pride and Prejudice in her novel based ten years later, Second Impressions: A Novel.
This hard cover book has a drawing of a proper mid-nineteenth century dressed English woman writing a letter with a quill on the front cover and paragraphs about the book and a review on the back. It is divided into two volumes, at one hundred and ninety four pages and at two hundred and six pages respectively. Although there are punctuation, capitalization, grammar and spelling errors, they appear to be intentional, reverting back to the time period and similar to Austen’s prose. In addition and supposedly in keeping with Austen’s “stile,” the bottom of each page has the first word listed from the next page perhaps to engage the reader. There is an interesting five page epilogue that explains the writer’s courageous intentions.
For Austen fans of Pride and Prejudice, Farmer continues the story’s love of the Bennett family now in post-Napoleon England, mainly concentrating on the Darcy kinfolk a decade later. With Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy living in Pemberley with his sister Georgiana, the other four Bennett sisters and their families are mentioned and updated intermittently. True to the prior novel, marrying off female family members to wealthy suitors verses espousing by love is the main theme. With a plethora of travels throughout England, Paris, Switzerland and the dirty Italy, the three main characters compare their lots in life, materialistic advantages (and sometimes lack thereof), upper end status in society, new scientific inventions or choice of clothing against friends, new acquaintances and family relations, sometimes with dry, sarcastic wit.
In this sequel, there appears less dialogue, conversation and bantering among the characters and more detailed, descriptive and comprehensive places they travel, societal expectations and criticisms and historical background. At times the reader feels bogged down in the technical as if it is a travelogue, wanting to jump to the emotional, personal joys and disappointments of each self-inflected individual.
The heart of the book is the unrequited love that finally blossoms between Georgiana and her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam who has nurtured, known and bares his soul to her without realizing it throughout the years.
Although there have been a few rewrites or postscripts to the renowned novel, Farmer’s deep commitment and love of divulging herself into Austen’s writing world has paid off in her dutiful work of fiction. Not only would this novel be enjoyed by Austen enthusiasts, but would make a wonderful supplement to any college class on women and their attitudes during the mid-eighteen hundreds.
Posted July 2012: