Sybil G. Brinton,
Old Friends & New Fancies:
The Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen

(1914; Sourcebooks, 2007)

Sequels to Jane Austen's works abound, but Old Friends & New Fancies, originally published in 1914 and reprinted in 2007, is the first. Into it are crammed as many of Jane Austen's characters as possible, so that the novel is simply stuffed with familiar faces.

The main characters are the Bingleys and Darcys of Pride & Prejudice, but we have Emma Knightley (Emma) up to her old tricks (with the usual result); Mrs. Jennings (Sense & Sensibility), just as loud and jolly as ever; Lucy Steele Ferrars (S&S), even more conniving if possible; and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (P&P), as insufferable as ever.

While it stretches credulity that all of Austen's many characters should have known one another, Brinton manages to pull it off. Many of the characters, of course, met at Bath or other spots popular with their class, and many introductions are made during the course of the story.

And what is the story? Love, of course. Will she have him? Will he propose? Has he set his sights on the wrong girl? Will her past continue to haunt her? And will Emma ever learn to stop matchmaking?

Old Friends & New Fancies is utterly charming and difficult to put down -- were it not for that pesky day job and occasionally needing to sleep, I'd've finished it in one sitting -- and at 377 pages, that's saying something!

review by
Laurie Thayer

2 August 2008

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