by Jennifer Becton
This continuation concentrates on the character of Caroline Bingley, who is sent by her brother back to their mother’s home in the north when she refused to apologize for her part in separating Charles and Jane. Along with a mysterious hired companion, Caroline’s journey took her many miles from London society and placed her in the household of her mother’s second husband, a tradesman. Though a respected bridge architect and very wealthy, his rough manners are a stark reminder of Caroline’s own non-gentile roots, especially when she finds a school acquaintance in town, along with an eligible titled brother. With yet another potential suitor on the horizon–Caroline’s step-father’s business partner–she begins her journey of self-discovery through the myriad of upper-class society rules and etiquette she has always placed above all else.
This goes on my favorites list for Austenesque novels, as it focuses on one of the less commonly written characters and one Austen left in need of redemption. This Becton has provided and if Caroline is not completely likable as protagonist, the reader can at least understand her a bit more by learning her background and seeing her through the eyes of two men not very different from Darcy and Wickham. As nearly the entire story is set among non-Austen characters, it makes a refreshing read for the genre.