The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh

Morrow. (Pride and Prejudice Novel, Bk. 2). Jan. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780063032002. $25.99. F
Greeley takes readers on an alternate tour of a Jane Austen landscape in her second “Pride and Prejudice” novel (after The Clergyman’s Wife). Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her slight, sickly daughter Anne are memorable P&P characters, but here Greeley brings them into sharp focus, with a scrutiny worthy of a Georgian parlor. Anne’s story as the heiress to the de Bourgh estate, and as a known sickly child treated (with “magic drops,” turning her to stone) throughout her life by her parish doctor, evolves as she grows into a young woman with a governess. Anne’s presumed security in society had been her lifelong betrothal to her cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy; she and Darcy were promised to each other by their mothers when they were quite young. When that plan falls apart, Anne struggles to find her way to her identity through a lifetime of restrictions, a hefty laudanum addiction, and a series of social cues she never before had to learn.
VERDICT Treading lightly on beloved Austen ground, Greeley’s storytelling is intricate, masterly, and delightfully imaginative. Highly recommended for Austen fans as well as readers of period fiction.
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