It so often happens that many authors of Austen fan fiction take one look at us and think for one reason or another that their book, though Austenesque, just cannot be considered dark enough to pique our interest. It is true that if there is a zombie, vampire, werewolf, sea monster, or any other supernatural creature invading the pages of the Austen world you will clearly have our undivided attention with little more said; however, where cruelty and callous behavior are practiced, there darkness reigns.
In The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy by Regina Jeffers there are none of the supernatural monsters to grab us by the throat. It begins in happiness with Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy doting over their infant son and talking of family matters, largely that of Georgiana’s absence. Georgiana in her eager anticipation of the return of her husband Major General Edward Fitzwilliam (you may remember him as Colonel Fitzwilliam) has elected to go alone to open up Alpine Hall in Scotland and await her husband. After marrying and having only had four days-worth of honeymoon time prior to his being deployed to battle one can hardly blame her.
The rest of the family is in high spirits for Kitty Bennet’s wedding as this will mark the fulfillment of Mrs. Bennet’s dreams of having all five of her daughters married, and perhaps finally put her nerves to rest. While Kitty gets her happy day, the family does have to contend with the disappointing absence of Georgiana and the unwelcome arrival of Mr. Wickham. The shadows begin to quickly gather as the situation becomes volatile. Add to that a series of alarming missives and the Darcys are off in an effort to put things to rights.
Oh, if they had only had the telephone service things could have been worked out with a little less fuss, but then we would not have had a story. Jeffers weaves a good story, though I struggled with the constantly changing perspectives, jumping from character to character and place to place. It was like reading flashes, hints, and snippets. All these threads seemed scattered about before slowly gathering together, colliding, and then settling into place.
It did not help my anxiety, which I felt as I wondered what would happen to poor Georgiana and what terribleness was going on among the Scottish moors. That anxiety kept me reading because I felt the need to know how it would all turn out. There were moments of touching romance (some a little gushy for me), and there were moments where I worried the darkness might swallow up any hope of a happy ending.
I admit it. I want more, more of the Austen world that Jeffers continues. Jeffers may not include those supernatural monsters I love best, but she knows how to touch upon the darkness. Maybe not all of her Austenesque books are like this. As darkness goes this might not be dark enough to give nightmares. Perhaps it is more like dark enough to make you thankful the shadows keep the worst of their secrets. Well, that is dark enough to pique my interest.
If this were a letter here would be my post script: Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I am aware of the existence of Vampire Darcy’s Desire by Regina Jeffers…that I have yet to read. It is on my list.