A bajillion years ago (read: three years) I read The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke. I was at once fascinated by a story that was able to take time traveling, Jane Austen, traditions of horse farms in Virginia, and newly discovered letters authored by Jane Austen to Fitzwilliam Darcy work. The main plot followed a young man (named Fitzwilliam Darcy!) from preset day Virginia who ends up traveling back to Jane Austen’s time! I won’t tell you all the plot details, but suffice it to say Jane and Fitzwilliam shared a brief romance before he headed back to the future, a future in which a woman named Eliza found unread letters from Jane Austen to a Fitzwilliam Darcy in her vanity. Her search leads her to Virginia to try to discover who the inspiration behind the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy was. Fast forward to a few months ago when I found out that O’Rourke decided to write a sequel! Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen thrusts us back to present-day Virginia, and Regency England and back to the lives of Eliza, Fitz, and Jane to show us that sometimes happily-ever-afters take some work.
I’ll let Goodreads do the talking for the plot:
Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, Yes! And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia is the reason why!
His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?
Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?
Those of you who have been reading my reviews for a while know that I will love most books inspired by P&P, regardless of what form they take. This series has been no different, for although time travel is in the mix, reading about Darcy still makes the story just as fun and exciting as it was the first time I read P&P. Add to this though the fact that we get to get inside Jane’s head, as well as see a whole new relationship evolve between Fitz and Eliza and I was drawn in from page one. I especially loved Jane’s involvement in the whole story, adding in her thoughts and input was a great move that added a complexity to the novel and an alternate point of view that we don’t usually see in P&P inspired novels. The only two downsides I would have to point out was the fact that Fitz’s character seemed to be all over the map emotionally at times and the fact that Jane’s scenes were a bit confusing chronologically. Other than these points, O’Rourke should be commended for her strong follow-up work in her The Man Who Loved Jane Austen series. Between the exciting love story between Eliza and Fitz and the intriguing point of view from Jane’s incorporation in the story, it’s a great read that will make fans of the series eager to move on to the next work!
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my fourth completed review for the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Victorian Essence Press (2012)
Paperback 380 pages
Special thanks to Ms. Smith O’Rourke for my review copy!