An extraordinary woman in a turbulent era
"Jane Austen herself would have been very well pleased."
Beverley Wong, author of Pride & Prejudice Prudence
The bestselling Pemberley Chronicles series continues the saga of the Darcys and Bingleys from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and introduces imaginative new characters.
Charming, beautiful, and intelligent, Cassandra Darcy is undeniably her father's daughter. When her brother Julian falters in his responsibilities as heir to Pemberley, Darcy and Elizabeth turn in desperation to their daughter, and Cassy is thrust into the role of surrogate heir.
It will take all of Cassy's inner strength and ingenuity to raise Julian's son, attend to her own happy marriage and children, and keep Pemberley's tenants satisfied. When she is faced with a series of crises--her daughter appears to be involved in an unsuitable affair and her son is unwittingly drawn into a murder investigation--Cassy must act before circumstances spin out of control.
Set against a vivid backdrop of dramatic political and social changes sweeping England during the Victorian era, Mr. Darcy's Daughter is the remarkable story of a strong-minded woman in a man's world, struggling to balance the competing demands of love and duty as a daughter, wife, mother, and sister.
"With her crisp style, lively dialogue, and a seasoning of gentle humour, Ms. Collins's latest contribution should keep her readers well satisfied."
THE INCLEMENT WEATHER INTO which the Gardiners drove as they left the boundaries of Pemberley did nothing to improve Cassandra’s apprehensive mood.
Travelling South through Leicestershire, they had hoped to reach Northhampton before nightfall, but the driving rain rendered that prospect more hazardous and less likely with every mile.
Forced to break journey at the small town of Market Harborough, they took rooms at the local hostelry, only to find Rebecca Tate and her maid Nelly ensconced next door. They had met at the top of the stairs, going down to dinner, and soon discovered that Julian Darcy had also written to his mother-in-law, though not, it appeared, in the same desperate terms that he had used in his letter to Richard Gardiner.
Rebecca apologised to Cassy for her non-attendance at their meeting on the previous afternoon, confessing that Julian’s note had driven all else from her mind, leaving her time only to make hurried preparations for their journey to Cambridge.
“With Mr Tate already in London, I decided that Nelly and I would go to Cambridge on our own,” she declared, adding, “I felt I could not wait one more day, when there may have been something I could do to help. Oh, my poor Josie, I cannot imagine what has afflicted her. Why Cassy, you must remember what a bright, happy girl she used to be when she lived at home in Matlock. It must be the house—I am sure of it. It’s cold and badly ventilated, quite unhealthy, especially in Winter. I said when they moved in, it was most unsuitable,” she declared.
Both Richard and Cassy held their peace, not wishing to alarm her by revealing what they already knew. It was becoming clear to them that Julian had not been as candid with his mother-in-law as he had been with them. Cassy knew her husband would reveal nothing, nor would she.
At dinner, Richard enquired politely as to how Mrs Tate and her maid had travelled to Market Harborough from Matlock. It transpired that they were using one of the Tates’ smaller vehicles. Mr Tate, they were told, had taken the carriage to London. Cassy was immensely relieved. It dispensed with the obligation for Richard to offer them seats in his carriage for the rest of the journey, which he would surely have done had they been travelling by coach. As it happened, they were well accommodated and, before retiring to their respective rooms, they agreed to leave for Cambridge after an early breakfast.
When they set out on the following morning, Cassy confessed to her husband, “I doubt if I could have concealed for much longer what we know of Josie’s condition, if Becky Tate had been travelling with us to Cambridge.”
He agreed. “It would certainly have been difficult to pretend that we knew no more than she does,” he said.
The streets were wet as they drove into Cambridge. The air was cold, and a sharp wind whipped the branches of the trees in the park and penetrated the carriage. Cassandra drew her wrap close around her, and yet she was cold and uncomfortable. The rain, though not as hard as before, was falling steadily as they approached the modest house that Julian and Josie rented in a quiet close not far from his college. It was not an unattractive dwelling, from an architectural point of view, but the garden appeared neglected, with sprouting bulbs and weeds competing for attention, and the house, with its blinds closed, seemed dark and unwelcoming. Once indoors, the aspect improved a little. Mrs Tate was at pains to explain how she had, on a previous visit, attempted to brighten up the parlour with new drapes and a few items of modern furniture, banishing an old horsehair sofa and two worn armchairs to the attic.
Julian met them in the hall, into which they were admitted by an anxious-looking young maidservant. While Mrs Tate insisted upon going upstairs to her daughter immediately, Richard and Cassy were ushered into the large but rather untidy parlour to the right of the hallway, where tea was to be taken.
Despite the best efforts of Mrs Tate, there was no disguising the general drabness of the room. Dark wood frames and striped wallpaper did little to help, while piles of books and journals lying on tables and strewn on the floor beside the chairs added clutter to a cheerless environment.
Only the fire burned brightly, keeping them warm, while the rain continued outside. How on earth, Cassy wondered, was anyone to recover from depression in surroundings such as these? Writing later to her mother, she said:
Mama, everything is in such a state of disarray; it would drive me insane to live here. I cannot believe that Josie has been so ill as not to notice the disorderly condition of the house and the neglected garden. As for my poor brother, how anyone who has spent most of his life at Pemberley could possibly endure such wretched surroundings, not from poverty or privation, but by choice, I cannot imagine. Yet Julian does not appear to notice. His study, if it could be called that, so untidy and disorganised does it seem, is his chief retreat, when he is not with Josie or at work in his beloved laboratory.
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 11th October 2008
Dimensions (cm): 23.0 x 15.4 x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.46