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Apr 16, 2010

Book Review: The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview

The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2010)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402237003
Review copy provided by the publisher
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars!
One might reasonably expect that a young lady dispatched in disgrace across the Atlantic to England would strive to behave with decorum, but Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning! And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin. And Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper," Mrs. Jenkinson, simply… vanishes.

In this tale of friendship, rebellion, and love, two young women entering Society forge a strong connection. A connection that is sorely tested when they both set out to win the heart of a most dashing—and dangerous— gentleman.

Regency readers have come to enjoy the genre due to its wit, charm, and traditional elegance with humorous maladroitness all bundled up into one happy novel. Monica Fairview seems to have a found a corner on this market, as she has succeeded her first Darcy novel with The Darcy Cousins with as much Regency flair as her first (The Other Mr Darcy), yet with even more improvement. This read was highly enjoyable and kept me intrigued throughout as the younger Darcy cousins, from America no less, wreaked havoc on England's society and especially at Rosings Park with the imperious Lady Catherine.

In the first novel, Mr. Robert Darcy is introduced as Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy's American cousin. With this novel, we are treated to Robert's younger brother and sister, close to the age of Miss Georgiana Darcy, the original Darcy's younger sister. We see much less of Robert and Caroline in this storytelling however. Clarissa, the new cousin, becomes quite close to Georgiana, and the two young ladies prepare to start their social season together. But, in all due haste all sorts of chaos occurs which effects many of the characters that are new and old to us. Lady Catherine is still true to form with her stubborn pride, and her weak daughter Anne is featured as well. Darcy and Lizzy (called Elizabeth throughout the novel) are also secondary characters throughout, as Elizabeth is supposed to chaperone Georgiana around town.

We are treated to Mr Collins and Charlotte as well, as the Easter holidays are required to be spent with the haughty Lady Catherine at Rosings. The infinite tea soirees were tediously horrible for the younger ones and they could not wait to start their coming out season in London. The multiple characters were well rounded and fun to watch as they interacted with eachother, from the shy Georgiana to the insolent Clarissa and more than one proposal in one day, yet only from those gentlemen who ruffled our sensitivities. Sunny days and boat trips turned into unladylike toes trying to be hidden and stockings being stuffed into reticules amongst hankies. Once we have maintained our hold on the characters, the story focuses on Georgiana for a time as she struggles with the object of her desire. We watch Georgiana take shape before our eyes, even though we tut-tutted some of her attitude, but we never lose faith in her.

Fairview impressively created new characters that blended seamlessly into the original story, though reading the first installment in the Cousin's series certainly helps. The characters of the two main love interests for the young ladies were a delight and left me in stitches, moreso than her first novel had. I laughed out loud several times throughout this read and after reading this second continuation by Fairview she is now my favorite Austen-inspired author outside of Georgette Heyer, although the newfound wit of Fairview echoes the charm of a Heyer. The Darcy Cousins is absolutely a must read for any Pride and Prejudice fan. My favorite scenes would always include the younger Darcy folk, and I truly enjoyed this continuation which would have made Jane Austen proud. I really hope that she continues with the Darcy series.

Read my review of Monica Fairview's previous novel The Other Mr. Darcy
See another review from someone quite proficient on the subject here at Austenprose, who is also fabulously famous now that she made it to this book's front cover stating "Monica Fairview is a skilled storyteller".

The author will visit the blog for a quick interview and giveaway on April 19th, so be sure to check back then!!