Dear Jane by Allie Cresswell #Review #HighburyTrilogy
I am delighted to return to Allie Cresswell's Highbury Trilogy with her final novel in the series Dear Jane. Inspired by Jane Austen's Emma, it amplifies the story behind Jane Austen's novel. you can read my reviews of the first two in the series here: Mrs Bates of Highbury | The Other Mrs Bates
The final instalment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane recounts events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma; the formative childhood years of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.
Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate.
Readers of Emma will be familiar with the conclusion of Jane and Frank’s story, but Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over its remainder.
This third part of the Highbury Trilogy takes you up to the time of the novel of Emma and runs in part, in parallel with the story. It is a delight to find Emma there and to recognise her character in the person who Allie presents to us. Even in the Emma we meet as a young girl, you can see her character forming and she always feels true to Jane Austen's creation, to me. I feel the same about Mr Knightley. Of course, Jane Fairfax is the central figure in this novel and it is illuminating to see her secret romance from a different perspective.
Once again, I feel that the conventions and attitudes of the time towards the state of marriage and the status of women are well written. Accomplishments and beauty are secondary always to a girl's status in society and in particular to her worth gained from her family. A woman begins to feel like a commodity and not all arrangements seem like a marriage of equals. Men it appears have to seek out a respectable and where possible, moneyed match. Personal wishes seem to be of secondary importance.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and appreciated that the themes and characters which Jane Austen has created have been present. There are no discordant notes. As a series, the three novels have flowed beautifully.
In short: More Regency romance with an touch of Austen.
About the Author
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband - Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.
Dear Jane is her ninth novel.
Thanks to Allie Cresswell and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.
Follow the rest of the tour!