Taking its facts from Austen’s own words, Follies Past opens almost a year before the opening of Pride and Prejudice itself, at Pemberley, at Christmas. Fourteen-year-old Georgiana has just been taken from school and is preparing to transfer to London in the spring. It follows Georgiana to London, to Ramsgate and into the arms of the charming and infamous Mr. Wickham.
To read this book is to step back into the charming world of Jane Austen’s England, to pass a few more hours with some of her beloved characters, sympathetically portrayed as they might have been before ever they came to Netherfield, and to discover a host of new characters each with engaging histories of their own. Authentic in its use of language and meticulously researched, it is a truly diverting entertainment.
Miss Kerr manages to evoke the essence of Jane Austen in the first sentence of this book, and carries it through to a satisfying ending with humour, intelligence and heart-warming characterisation. It begins with Caroline Bingley’s conviction that Fitwilliam Darcy is romantically interested in her, and is then proved completely wrong, though it takes Caroline a while to accept it. The reader is given the opportunity to take a shadenfreude type pleasure in Caroline’s self-delusion – attributable entirely to Miss Austen’s original ability to make us hate her when she doesn’t do anything that terrible.
This is more the story of Wickham and the alleged elopement with Georgiana, not to mention the duplicitous Mrs Young.
The language is exquisite, and so Austen-like I found it hard to differentiate between them. The story is well researched, giving new life to not only Georgiana, but Darcy as a man and not a suitor for Elizabeth Bennet whom he hasn’t met yet. The characters are well rounded and fascinating in their own right, and I don’t think Ms Austin would have objected to how the author has given new life to her secondary characters.
The casually insulting and insufferable Lady Catherine de Bourgh is a masterpiece, I really enjoyed this novel, and I hope there are more in the same vein.
My only criticism is the clumsy artwork on the cover, this book deserves something far more artistic and beautiful. Definitely one of the best fan fiction books I have read.