Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) by Carrie Bebris
So a while back I reviewed a Jane Austen mystery, Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged). I enjoyed the first book, although I did solve the mystery quickly, but it was very well written and worth reading.
So while the first book focused only on Pride & Prejudice characters (and ones she made up) this one combines P&P with Sense and Sensibility.
Sense and Sensibility actually takes place in the 1790s, twenty years before Pride and Prejudice. All the characters have been aged accordingly so they match up with the Pride and Prejudice ones. It can be a bit confusing when the characters are no longer how they were in their book. To make it less confusing, I will give a brief reminder of the plot of Sense & Sensibility.
So the Dashwood family:
The estate of Norland belongs to Old Mr. Dashwood. When he was sick he was visited by his family and found young Henry Dashwood, John’s son, to be just so adorable that he entailed it to the men in his family. After he died Mr. Henry Dashwood, the elder, ended up dying and the estate passed over his second wife and daughters going to his son John, (which would ultimately go to his son, young Henry.)
John promised his father to help his sisters, but with an ambitious wife; that quickly ended.
John’s wife is horrible, just evil. Fanny, the demon wife, convinces John to give no money to the sisters as they really “are not his siblings”. She then rearranges the whole household and makes life unbearable for all.
John also has an incredibly bratty son, Henry:
When Fanny’s brother visits, she sees that he and Elinor like each other, but as Elinor is too poor for her soon to be wealthy brother Edward, she ends that immediately. The second Dashwood family all move from their home to renting out Barton’s Cottage, owned by Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin.
They spend a lot of time with Sir John, as he constantly invites them over so that they can eat well, as money is extremely tight. Eventually after all kinds of twists and turns, the two eldest girls marry the men of their dreams and the story ends happily. If you haven’t read it you should.
So Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Georgiana, and Kitty are all heading to London for a “London Season” as they are husband hunting for Kitty. They are invited to Sir John’s where they meet him and his wife (sadly I think Mrs. Jennings the mother-in-law has passed on) and their now adult children. Also there is the young Mr. Henry Dashwood, who is now no longer a boy, but a young man in his twenties. He meets Kitty and immediately finds her to be a fantastic partner, good conversationalist, and all around enjoys her company.
Only one problem, he thought she was Georgiana Darcy.
The next day it seems as if all the men were only interested in Georgiana, not Kitty, as she is going to bring an extremely large dowry.
Except for Mr. Henry Dashwood. After he discovered his blunder, he still spent the night with Kitty and fell for her. That works perfectly with Kitty as she has fallen head over heels for him.
While everyone finds him agreeable, and Elizabeth definitely thinks that he will be a good match for Kitty; Mr. Darcy thinks of him as a fop and a dandy wanting Kitty with someone who has more brains.
He goes to talk to Henry, and discovers that his lack of business isn’t from him not caring, but from not being instructed on how to run an estate. It turns out that his parents sent him away to school immediately and he has spent hardly any time with family or at Norland. However, he is eager to learn and Darcy soon takes him under his wing.
Henry has won over the whole family, but soon Fanny arrives to meet Kitty.
Fanny does not like Kitty as she is too poor and would rather spear Georgiana with her impressive dowry. But Henry will not be deterred, as he invites them to his 21st birthday and proposes to Kitty.
Everything seems to be going well, until Henry finds an old strange mirror and a painting of his notorious great-great uncle Sir Francis Dashwood. Soon after Henry starts acting completely different-gambling nonstop, drinking, carousing with all women (married and single of every class). What could have happened to him to make him so much worse than his nefarious relation? Could he be possessed?
So what did I think? Did I like it?
I thought this book ran into a few problems and wasn’t as good as the first one.
1) Henry Dashwod was too likable.
So when you read Sense and Sensibility, you don’t like Henry. He is a total brat and completely annoying.
But in this book they made him tooo likable. This caused problems as that reading about his possession made it sad because you knew it wasn’t him, and this poor guy has lost everything.
Secondly, because he is so likable, you know that he isn’t the one doing all these horrible things and that something has caused him to have a personality shift. It wasn’t a real mystery, like in the first novel, as you weren’t sure if Caroline was hypnotized or going insane.
2) No Mystery
In the first book, Caroline starts acting weird after she was married. This makes us wonder is someone making her act this way like in Gaslight or is she actually going crazy?
Secondly, there are a multitude of suspects:
- Mr. Kendall– He could be trying to kill the Bingleys because of the money he feels that he has been cheated out of. He also could be trying to get rid of Caroline because of his daughter being thrown over. Remember, his daughter was with Caroline when her horse bolted.
- Mr. Hurst– If his debts are as extremely high as Elizabeth suspects, he might be trying to kill his relations off for money.
- Professor Randolph– Professor Randolph has been drifting from place to place as most don’t feel his studies are legitimate. Now that Caroline is crazy, he has room and board as the prime caretaker for Caroline. Maybe he is making her seem crazy, and could even be trying to make it look as if she set the fire, to only further cement Mr. Parrish’s need of him.
- Mr. Parrish- He only married Caroline for her money and is trying to remove her from the picture. He is supposed to be extremely wealthy, but for some people what they have is never enough. Besides, he could be lying about how wealthy he is, or have hidden debt that they don’t know about.
In this however, we immediately know that Henry is being possessed as the writer gives it away in the beginning introduction and the back of the novel. Instead we are just waiting for events to unfold.
Yeah, I don’t like those kind of mysteries. That’s how Death Comes to Pemberley was (the book, not the TV miniseries. The miniseries is better.)
3) Hardly Any Elinor, Marianne, Colonel Brandon, or Edward In It
I’m sorry but I don’t know why they were missing so much in this novel. We LOVE this characters so if we are reading something to so with Sense and Sensibility we want to have then in the book. It was a crime to not have very much of them.
4) Supernatural Seems Like an Afterthought
This is a supernatural mystery (not Supernatural) but it takes a long time for the characters to reach that point and even evoke in anything. Professor Randolph is there for a second, and then the weirdest thing-the ever staunchly “realistic” Darcy decides to do battle with the demon mirror? I don’t know, it just seemed hastily thrown in, instead of carefully worked like in the previous book.
So we will see what the next book holds. Will it get better? Or worse?
There is one question though that this book presented that I think is worth mulling over. Who should Georgiana marry?
So I started thinking, out of all the non-attached Austen men, who would be the best match for Georgiana (yes I know the author might just make a new character like P.D. James did, but forget that lets focus on what Austen made.)? I narrowed it down to three characters who I think might work.
3) Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride & Prejudice
Pros: Known Georgiana a long time, is kind, caring, funny, amiable, etc.
Cons: Is like a brother to Georgiana, she might not be able to see past that. She might also think he is too old (which he isn’t).
For more on Colonel Fitzwilliam, go to A Murder Has Been Committed on Your Property: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode One (2013)
2) James Morland from Northanger Abbey
Pros: James is a kind, compassionate, caring, and hardworking guy. He has studied constantly and will soon be taking his orders to become a minister. He is a kind older brother and has many traits, in that respect, shared with her brother. Educated, well read, etc.
Cons: Not from a wealthy family, but still does alright; naive, and like Bingley, more easily persuaded.
1) Lieutenant William Price from Mansfield Park
This is actually my top pick, I think they would be good for each other. I just see them as being a great couple, him so sweet and gentle with fragile temperaments. Georgiana needing someone who can be kind and caring.
Pros: Kind, caring, compassionate, honest, and hardworking.
Cons: While his mother came from a high class family, she married down (although that wouldn’t really matter to Georgiana.) He is in the navy a peon, but he does get a great commission through Fanny’s connection to Henry Crawford.
For more on Lt. William Price, go to Let’s Hear it For the Boys
For more by Carrie Bebris, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged)
For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Too Pretty
For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen
For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)
For more Sense and Sensibility variations, go to Baby Jane Austen
For more Jane Austen mysteries, go to Midnight in Austenland
For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies