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Les Cousins Dangereux

Alix reviews Georgiana Darcy's DiaryAnna Elliott's Pride & Prejudice sequel that asks, "What happened to ickle Georgie?"

Les Cousins Dangereux

BOOK REPORT for Georgiana Darcy’s Diary: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Continued Anna Elliott

Cover Story: Fine
BFF Charm: Meh and Yay!!!
Swoonworthy Scale: Does Not Compute
Talky Talk: Easy Breezy Regency
Bonus Factors: 19th Century Vogue
Anti-Bonus Factors: Oblivious Protagonists, Kissin’ Cousins, Making Me Feel Sorry for Caroline Bingley, Deus Ex Machina
Relationship Status: Surprisingly Pleasant Joke Date

Cover Story: Fine

I mean, what did you expect here? It’s a Pride & Prejudice sequel. Besides, the cover is irrelevant, because you’re going to buy it in Kindle format for $0.00.

The Deal:

About a year after the events of Pride & Prejudice, young Georgiana Darcy is struggling with being 18. She's not a girl, not yet a woman, but everyone seems to be alternately treating her as a child (big brother, Fitzwilliam) or a prize mare up for auction to the highest bidder (Aunt Catherine de Bourgh and her endless parade of unsuitable suitors). Georgiana just wants to be left alone to sort out her feelings for her cousin and guardian, Colonel Edward Fitzwilliam. She knows she’s in love with him, but can he ever see her as anything more than a little kid?

BFF Charm: Meh and Yay!!!

Georgiana is... fine. In her defense, I rarely like the protagonists of diary novels. Incessant inner monologue is not a good look on anyone. Reading Georgiana’s thoughts was kind of how I imagine reading Jane Bennet’s thoughts would be. When she’s not mooning over Colonel Fitzwilliam, she’s saying something only vaguely uncharitable about another character and then spending the next 15 paragraphs apologizing for it. If I’m honest, I would only be besties with Georgiana if there was nobody else around.

However, I would TOTALLY be BFFs with Mr. Folliet, one of Georgiana’s gentleman callers. He’s fun, nice to look at, an excellent dance partner, and unlike every other unmarried male character in every period novel ever, not a Nice Guy. Like, you can dance with him or play whist or walk around the grounds or anything really, and he won’t suddenly think that all your lady bits are belong to him.* He’s not even secretly engaged to awful Jane Fairfax; he’s just a legitimately decent guy! It’s the craziest.

*Please suggest more 19th Century Nice Guys in the comments! (Go home, Henry Lennox. Nobody wants to sleep with you.)

Swoonworthy Scale: Does Not Compute

Like Ryan Lochte, this book is very sexually confusing. On the one hand, there are definitely some tingly moments between Georgiana and her cousin/guardian/older brother figure, Colonel Edward Fitzwilliam. On the other same hand, there are definitely some tingly moments between Georgiana and her cousin/guardian/older brother figure, Colonel Edward Fitzwilliam.

It’s not even the fact that Edward is Georgiana’s cousin that bothers me. (Although, in the author’s note, Elliott defends this by citing Fanny and Edmund’s relationship in Mansfield Park as an example of the times. Mansfield Park should never be used to defend anything, because it is terrible.) My opposition has more to do with the age difference and the fact that Georgiana has “been in love with” her cousin/guardian since she was six. Um, ew? and no? I guess the relationship is no creepier than that in Emma, but at least in that story, Jane Austen didn’t harp on about Mr. Knightley watching Emma grow up every five seconds. By contrast, Georgiana’s constant commentary about Edward’s age made it really difficult for this ship to ever leave port.

Talky Talk: Easy Breezy Regency

Elliott did a great job with Georgiana’s voice. It never felt like a forced imitation of Austen’s style, nor did it come off anachronistic. Nothing is more annoying to read than a book that is clearly trying too hard, so I was delighted to find this to be well-written and easy to read.

Bonus Factor: 19th Century Vogue

Georgiana comments on everybody’s outfits, in every scene. It’s amazing. Best are the descriptions of poor Anne de Bourgh’s wardrobe. Anne is like the sad Claudia Kishi of this book, with her overbearing mother picking out all of her outfits:

Despite the sunshine, Anne insisted on wearing her warmest pelisse, a hideous garment made of mustard yellow velvet and lined with dark sable fur. She had a matching sable muff, as well, to tuck her hands inside.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Oblivious Protagonists

Georgiana is an infuriating idiot. She interprets almost nothing correctly, no matter how obvious. In the most egregious example, Georgiana wakes up every day and is like “golly gee, Elizabeth sure looked peaky at breakfast this morning. But now it’s the evening and she seems fine again, if a bit tired. I hope everything’s ok!” And then two-thirds into the book, Elizabeth is like “Lolz! I’m preggers everyone!” and everyone acts all surprised that a recently married woman without access to the modern wonders of birth control would be knocked up. WHAT A GREAT PLOT TWIST, M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Kissin’ Cousins

I know we covered this in swoon section of the book report, but I really need to emphasize how not ok I was with this plot point. I was not ok with this plot point, y’all.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Making Me Feel Sorry for Caroline Bingley

As you may have heard, I have no shame when it comes to reading Pride & Prejudice retellings and sequels. And in almost every sequel I’ve read, Caroline Bingley ends up embarrassed and alone after some sort of dalliance with a con-artist posing as a member of the landed gentry. It’s getting ridiculous, y’all. Can’t poor Caroline just end up in a vaguely-unhappy-but-comfortable marriage, where her husband is always out shooting on their country estate while she holds dinner parties in London and cuckolds him with the likes of Willoughby and other similarly unhappily married men? Why must she always be taken in by some obviously flimflam man and then publically humiliated? It’s making me feel sorry for the girl, and that’s never a position I want to find myself in.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Deus Ex Machina

Oh hey, that major detail that has been the driving force of this entire book? Let’s just resolve that quickly and arbitrarily. Who needs good plot development when you can just be lazy instead?

Casting Call:

Jessica Brown Findlay as Georgiana

Martin Freeman as Edward

Freddie Stroma as Mr. Folliet

Relationship Status: Surprisingly Pleasant Joke Date

Megan convinced me to go out with this book on the grounds that 1) it could make a good bad review and 2) free dinner. I went into the date prepared to write terrible things about it on the internet later, but I actually had fun? This book will never be The One, but I found myself really enjoying our evening together, despite its myriad flaws.

 

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Alix West's photo About the Author: Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.
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