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The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy by Regina Jeffers

The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy by Regina Jeffers is a Pride & Prejudice mystery with heart and a devotion to Jane Austen’s characters as she envisioned them.  The beauty of this  novel is that it not only holds true to the original and what happened between the Bennets, the Darcys, and the Bingleys, but it also demonstrates that those characters can change and become more than Austen intended.

Georgiana has vanished among the moors in Scotland while she waits for her husband Major General Edward Fitzwilliam to return from fighting France at Waterloo, and her brother Mr. Darcy and his wife Elizabeth are preparing for the wedding of her younger sister Kitty.  The Darcys may be enjoying being new parents and building their small community of friends and family, but the Wickhams and Mrs. Bennet’s mischief are never too far away.

“For a brief second, Darcy’s brain told him that his vision had betrayed him.  It could not be George Wickham aiming one of the military’s best personal weapons at him, but he rejected that erroneous assumption immediately.  It was Wickham, and Darcy was the target.”  (Page 142)

Jeffers is true to the original characters, while intermingling the elements of gothic literature found in the prose of the Brontes.  She creates situations with new characters that generate serious suspense that will have readers on the edge of their seat about the safety of Georgiana.  Darcy is a loving husband, but he and his wife still have that back-and-forth banter that readers of Austen love.  But their relationship has matured, with an absence of misunderstandings and temper flare-ups that got them into hot water with one another in the first place.  Jeffers is at her best here with prose that keeps to the customs and diction of the past and mixes it seamlessly with modern sensibility.

“‘Elizabeth?’ Darcy asked eagerly as he stood mesmerized by his son’s antics.  ‘Have you seen what Bennet has accomplished?’

His wife joined him in his sitting room.  ‘What would that be?’ Her voice betrayed her amusement.

Darcy turned his head to glare at her.  ‘I suppose Bennet’s turning from his knees to his back is not a recent achievement?’

Although she attempted a sympathetic countenance, Elizabeth’s smile widened.  ‘If it is of any consequence, your son has only mastered the rotation in the last week.’

Darcy threw up his hands in frustration.  ‘That settles it! I refuse to be away from my family ever again.  Bennet grows too quickly as it is.  . . . ‘” (Page 394)

The novel pulls readers in easily, particularly with the mystery that leaves Georgiana’s captors and location a mystery until the latter quarter of the novel.  The technique of intermittently showing readers Georgiana’s thoughts and concerns about her location as her kin learn of the erroneous reports that reached her in Scotland and her subsequent disappearance are well done.  Jeffers also creates a set of villains that rival even Mr. Wickham, and the secrets revealed about the MacBethan family in Scotland will cause some readers to have nightmares or at least feel very uncomfortable.  The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy shows that beloved characters can evolve, have adventures, and learn to forgive.

About the Author:

A teacher for nearly 40 years in the public school systems of three different states, Regina Jeffers is a Time Warner Star Teacher Award winner, a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, a Columbus Educator Award winner, and a guest panelist for the Smithsonian. She served on various national educational committees and is often sought as a media literarcy consultant. Like many “snow birds,” Jeffers moved to the South several years ago. She is late to the publishing business, having written her first book on a dare from her students, who, literally said, “If you know all this, why do you not do it yourself?” On a whim, she self published her first book, and from there, everything happened at once. Now, writing for Ulysses Press in California, Jeffers is the author of several Jane Austen adaptations including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, The Phantom of Pemberley, and Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion. She considers herself a Janeite – a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and spends lots of her free time involved in such. Jeffers has now branched out into the Historical Romance genre. Her first book in the Realm series, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, will be released in early 2011.

Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers

Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers finds Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in a run of the mill inn right before the Christmas holiday as they are stranded by the snow and stormy weather on their way back from Newcastle.  Meanwhile, Georgiana is forced into the roll of Mistress of Pemberley and must contend with Darcy’s guests, including Lizzy’s parents, the Bingleys, and some other unexpected and unpleasant guests.  Jeffers sprinkles her prose with Jane Austen’s classic lines from Pride & Prejudice about Mrs. Bennet’s nerves and Darcy’s pride and Lizzy’s prejudices.  She adheres to Austen’s characterizations ensuring that Austen purists will enjoy her followup novel, but at the same time, she demonstrates how Georgiana evolves from a timid girl in the shadows of her brother and Aunt Catherine de Bourgh to become a capable woman.

“”Yes, our Mary has snatched up a viable candidate.  At least, Mrs. Bennet has said such on countless occasions, so I must believe it so.  After all, Her Ladyship has deemed my wife to have no mental deficiencies.’

Charlotte chuckled lightly before saying softly, ‘Lady Catherine is perceptive in her evaluations.’

Mr. Bennet smiled knowingly.  ‘Lizzy has assured me that nothing is beneath the great lady’s attention.’

Mrs. Collins tightened the line of her mouth.  ‘Her Ladyship is all kindness.  She has taken it upon herself to oversee my domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, offering advice on how everything out to be regulated.'”  (page 67)

Even better, readers experience more of Mr. Bennet’s wit and see Kitty as more than just a silly young girl.  Lizzy’s precarious situation with her pregnancy has Darcy worried, especially so far away from home.  But both take the situation in stride and offer the kindness they have in abundance to those in need.  Darcy and Lizzy are at the inn meeting new people and sharing accommodations with a myriad of travelers.  Meanwhile, Georgiana is juggling unwanted guests, and in many ways the guests are rallying and teaming up against Lady Catherine.

Jeffers adheres to Austen’s characters and social commentary while building upon the original novel to create characters that evolve and come into their own.  Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers is an quiet novel that meanders, enabling readers to spend the holidays with some of their favorite characters, but those looking for big plot twists and action will not find much of that here.  Jeffers has created a solid novel that could stand alone.

This is my 76th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.