Friday, February 26, 2010

Recollections of Rosings by Rebecca Ann Collins

book cover

Recollections of Rosings
by Rebecca Ann Collins

Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: SourceBooks Landmark
First Released: 2010

Source: Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description (slightly modified):
The eighth novel in the bestselling Pemberley Chronicles series, with fascinating social history of the Victorian period as a backdrop.

Catherine Harrison and Becky Tate, daughters of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins, grew up in the shadow of Rosings Park, domain of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh; but as adults their paths have diverged dramatically.

When a catastrophe at Rosings Park brings Becky back to visit her sister, the two clash over their aspirations for the marriage of Catherine's young daughter, and both women are forced to confront the ghosts of their past—in particular, Lady Catherine's cruelty and deception in separating Catherine, when she was young, from an "unsuitable" man she had begun to love.

Can the two sisters reconcile or will their differing values ruin her daughter's chance at love and prevent Catherine from taking a second chance at happiness?

Recollections of Rosings is a historical romance set in England around the 1860s and is the eighth book in this Pride and Prejudice sequel series. I haven't read the previous novels in the series, but I was able to easily follow what was going on and who was related to whom. (There's also a character list in the back listing who the characters are.)

The original Pride and Prejudice characters played little part in this novel; it was primarily about their children and grandchildren. However, when the Pride and Prejudice characters and events were referred to or showed up, they were consistent with the information given in Pride and Prejudice.

The novel was in a writing style very similar to Austen's in word choice and phrasing. It also had the slightly slower pacing of those novels.

The author focused on the historical events occurring at the time and how it influenced the main characters more than Jane Austen did in her novels. The characters frequently talked about the nation-wide events (like the movement to provide education for the poor), but few details were given about the character's clothing, houses, etc. The main characters tended toward modern sensibilities when it came to the new ideas emerging at the time.

The characters were interesting, and I cared about what happened to them. However, this novel lacked the sharp conflict and heartbreak of Austen's novels. There was little excitement or suspense except in one scene near the very end. The few setbacks were too obviously mere delays rather than actual obstacles to the main characters' gratification. So it was a sweet romance read for the enjoyment of seeing nice characters achieve true happiness (with the added bonus of some interesting historical information worked in).

There was a minor amount of swearing. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as enjoyable, fairly clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Catherine had tried many times during the journey from Derbyshire to Kent, first by train and then by carriage to Rosings, to imagine what it would be like.

From the scant information in Mr. Adam's letter to Mr. Darcy, it had not been easy to create a picture of how Rosings would look after the fire. She could not contemplate it. The scale and grandeur of the building, set as it was in a formal park of much beauty, surrounded by hundreds of acres of orchard, woods, and farmland, had so impressed themselves upon her mind since childhood that it was well nigh impossible for her to picture its destruction.

She felt stunned, disbelieving, exactly as she recalled feeling when told that her father, Reverend Collins, had died suddenly of a heart attack, which had felled him without warning as he inspected the chapel at Rosings with Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Then she had been a mere girl, yet it was she who had had to support her mother and comfort her younger sisters, while still unable to accept it herself.

Which is probably why the shock was so severe, when the carriage turned off the road into the long drive and there, before their eyes, was revealed the terrible truth.

Nothing had prepared them for this.

It was nearly four days since the fire, yet parts of the building were still smoldering--the smoke, acrid and dark, drifting upwards--while everywhere across the once immaculate park was strewn the debris of days past. Scorched walls, crumbling masonry, and shattered windows--all those many dozens of windows that her father used to speak of in a hushed voice, whose glazing had cost Sir Lewis de Bourgh a fortune--shattered now, hung with ragged bits of rich curtains blowing in the wind.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a thoughtful review, which appreciates the particular qualities of this book and its writer.

I have also enjoyed other volumes of this series and agre with much of what you say. Being a great Jane Austen fan, I am especially pleased with the authentic quality of the writing and the closeness of the characters to Austen's own.


Claudia said...

Dear Debbi,
Great Review- but, may I pass on two corrections please?

1. Recollections of Rosings was first published in 2003 in Australia- and reprinted in the US edition in 2010

2. More importantly- re your comment that "there is no sex in this novel"- I assume you mean there are no explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse with anatomical details. That is certainly true. But, this is a love story and if you read the epilogue- there are plenty of suggestions of the warm and loving physical and emotional relationship between Catherine and Frank Burnett who are on their honeymoonin Italy.
Readers with a modicum of imagination can appreciate that the sexual aspect of love is part of that intimacy.
The author's style is in keeping with 19th century literary tradition in which sex was never explicitly described, but often suggested. The details of how and where and by what means was left to the reader's imagination.

Best regards,

Genre Reviewer said...


Thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts on the book (and the series) with us. :)


Thank you for the correction about the release year. I suspect the ARC didn't clearly indicate the Australia release, but the mistake was probably mine.

As for number two: books were the reader assumes a couple is having sex (as in, a baby is born) but sex isn't directly mentioned, I label as "no sex."

Yes, the epilogue of this book hints that they're having sex, but no direct mention of it is made (body-part explicit or not), so it fits in my "no sex" category. I didn't mean to imply that they weren't having sex, just that no sex was directly mentioned.