Picking up during the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice, we follow Darcy and Lizzie back to Pemberley for the beginning of the rest of their lives together. Shortly after their arrival, the holidays come, and with them brings the visit of Col. Fitzwilliam to Pemberley. We find out that Fitzwilliam is madly in love with Lizzy and decides to express himself to her fully, not concealing his previous wish to ask Elizabeth to marry him. After discussing the issue with Elizabeth and then Darcy, it is decided that the best course of action for all parties is that he leave Pemberley and return only when he has mastered his emotions. Upon his return several months later, he is introduced to Elizabeth’s sister Kitty, and falls madly in love with her. On top of this, we come to find out that Charles and Jane Bingley have been unable to conceive a child which has led to a bit of depression on Jane’s part. Mary has found herself claiming the attentions of an older gentlemen who seems to respect her for her mind and eventually asks Mr. Bennett for her hand in marriage. However, all is not well, as Mary soon realizes upon arriving in her new home. Will Mary be able to survive this sudden turn of events? Will Kitty accept Col. Fitzwilliam’s advances? Will Jane and Charles ever be blessed with a baby of their own?
The most common complaint most Austen fan fiction readers have is the exceedingly different language that the modern sequels are written in. I can proudly say that Experience is the closest thing you can find to an original Jane Austen novel. Kerr needs to be praised not only for her mastery of Austen’s language, but for her willingness to learn the intricacies of 18th/19th century language. It’s stunning similarity to Austen’s own pen was the biggest enjoyment factor for me. I looked at my husband at one point while reading it and said, “I feel like I’m reading a long-lost Austen novel”, to which he replied “It must be pretty good because I’ve never heard you say that before.” For once, Todd was right, I felt that the writing alone could have drawn me in, but Kerr is a talented author and her strong characterizations also kept me tuned in.
Kerr stays true to the characters that Austen originally introduced us to. What’s commendable about this is that she stays true to even the characters that we only get to see a skeleton of in Austen’s work. These minor characters that make strong impressions on us originally got another chance at seeing the light of day in Kerr’s work, as she features them in the prominence that they deserve and that Austen may have eventually intended them to be in. Such minor characters actually carry the novel, with strong storylines being attached to Kitty, Mary, and Col. Fitzwilliam. And while Darcy and Lizzy are still prominently found in the novel, you find yourself drawn to the storylines of these characters as they have their moments in the limelight that Kerr provides them.
My only complaint with the novel was that some of the characters’ storylines weren’t expanded upon as much as I thought they would be. Georgiana and Caroline Bingley’s storylines I felt could have used some more work. They both had great potential, but I was left wanting. Although after speaking with Meg yesterday, I know that she is working on another novel, one with more attention paid to Georgiana. I’m all anticipation for this and you can gladly add me to the list of people who will be reading it!
All in all, I truly enjoyed Kerr’s extension of Austen’s original work. I felt that her realistic writing style, combined with a fleshing out of Austen’s original minor characters combined to form an excellent novel. I highly recommend it to those of you who always wonder what happened to the Bennet sisters past the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice, as well as those who love the beautiful language that Austen uses in her works.
4 out of 5 stars
This is my sixteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge