This is an intriguing read and a new perspective on the Austen Family. Knowing of Jane’s brilliance in writing, the rest of her family were lesser known to me…this has helped to extend my knowledge of the family and perhaps some reasons into Jane’s spinsterhood.
Delving into the next generation of Austen’s, this story is focused mainly on Fanny and Anna, cousins in the Austen extended family. Both are of marrying age and are being introduced into society and attending plenty of balls. At times, the stresses of finding a husband take over and the girls need to find their feet in this new expectation on them.
Fanny has trouble connecting with her mother, who is constantly busy with the 9 other children in the family and so Aunt Jane is relied upon by both Fanny and Anna. Fanny, the more serious cousin, is daunted by the thought of finding a husband, whereas Anna is more flirty and eager. When an engagement is announced between Anna and clergyman, Mr Terry, Fanny is jealous and unsure of the match.
Relying on advice from Aunt Jane, Fanny learns news ways to help. It was lovely to see Aunt Jane as a member of the growing family, and to see her as a mysterious figure to the family. She leads Fanny on a mission to save Mr Drummer, their clergyman when he is falsely accused of theft.
Fanny and Mr Drummer feel a bond together and just when we think a proposal is imminent, disaster strikes the family and everything changes for Fanny. I was devastated for Fanny and felt real emotion at how quickly life changed for the women in the Austen family, and the level of expectation on young girls.
This story is dramatic and full of Regency rules and views of marriage. It has inspired me to learn more about the Austen family and to follow the family tree to see where they all fit together.
I think knowing that the author, Lucy Worsley, has an incredible knowledge of history and it’s heroines, makes this book more credible and interesting.
I could happily read more of the Austen family and will be watching out for more books from Lucy Worsley!