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Sixth in the bestselling Jane Austen sequel series from Australia
In this installment of The Pemberley Chronicles series, Mr. Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth&...
Sixth in the bestselling Jane Austen sequel series from Australia
In this installment of The Pemberley Chronicles series, Mr. Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth's cousin Caroline Gardiner take center stage.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Caroline develops from a pretty young girl into a woman of intelligence and passion, embodying some of Austen's own values. Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, and the Wickhams all move through the story as Caroline falls in love, marries, and raises her children. Caroline rejects the role of a compliant Victorian wife and mother, instead becoming a spirited and outspoken advocate of reformist causes in spite of the danger of scandal.
Caroline's advocacy of reform, undaunted by criticism, demonstrates strength in a time when a woman's role was severely restricted.
My Cousin Caroline is the story of Caroline Gardiner and Colonel Fitzwilliam. When I first started reading the book, I admit to being a bit uncomfortable. Why? It’s all due to the significant age difference between Caroline and the Colonel.
However, once I got into the story, I was able to overlook this, mostly due to the fact that I know this wasn’t unheard of back in that time period. Much older men married MUCH younger women and it worked out fine. And what I liked is that the Colonel fought his attraction until…well, until it got too hard not to finally admit his feelings. Still, the age difference was still hanging over it all.
The thing I appreciated the most about this book was that it was number 6 in an ongoing series and yet you didn’t feel like you were floundering. I hate reading series and getting lost because I can’t figure out what happened in the previous books. Sourcebooks was nice enough to send along a “cheat” sheet of the previous books to help me keep track of who was who.
On to my thoughts…I actually really enjoyed this story. I enjoyed Caroline’s strength and maturity, even though she was so very young when the book started. The Colonel surprised me. He was such a secondary character in P&P (even though he was the catalyst at a certain point) and it was nice to see him fleshed out.
I really liked how the author really made you feel like you were reading the recorded history of these people. She made them seem real. To say that the book was perfect would be a fallacy, unfortunately. It was more a history lesson than a romance. I never could understand exactly how Caroline and the Colonel fell in love. Instead of showing the natural progression of their relationship AND them falling in love, it basically was vignettes of their lives.
There was no consistency. The years jumped. It was difficult to keep track of time, especially later in the book when we get to them being old and looking back at their life together.
Still, the book was greatly enjoyable. Ive got book 7. Now I wish I could get books 1-5. lol
My Overall Rating: B-
So once again I have journeyed into the land of the Darcys. (This should not be a shock to anyone.) I have read the most recent book in Rebecca Ann Collins series My Cousin Caroline. This book is a compilation of the other books, just with a focus on Caroline Fitzwilliam and her family.
Some would say why would anyone read this book if it just a rehashing of all that has come before. Well it is not that. This time around the reader gets to see what drives Caroline and her family. You see her journal entries and and letters which have helped to shape her into the lady that she has become. You see what drivers her to be a good mother and wife.
You can see her shape into a very important part of her family and that the influence of Elizabeth Darcy is very much in place to make her the woman she is. Ms. Collins brings in her talent for relating what is going on with the times to the story. At times it can be a little like a history lesson, but it is entertaining all the same, and it is nice to see what motivates the characters of her story.
What can I say about a book that’s very enjoyable to read? If Ms. Jane Austen is alive to write related books to Pride and Prejudice, I think that she’d have Rabecca Ann Collins’ My Cousin Caroline in mind. I enjoy the air of authenticity of this story. I didn’t really notice Caroline Gardiner in Pride and Prejudice. That book is dominated by Darcy and Lizzy.
However, it’s a pleasant surprise to read about a forward-thinking young lady catching Fitzwilliam’s heart. This is a sweet romance book that an Austen fan should not miss. I was riveted by the details of the area and the characters. I am especially attached to Caroline’s character. When you read this book, let me know what you think. Reading this book is like watching a movie in print; the details come alive. The characters are well-developed, and so very easy to like. This is book 6 of the series, yet I don’t feel like I’m missing chunks of the story. I will definitely read the other five.
A Remarkable Woman – Ahead of her Time
My Cousin Caroline, Book Six in the wonderful Pemberley Chronicles series by author Rebecca Ann Collins, tells the story of Caroline Gardiner Fitzwilliam, daughter of original cast members Mr. and Mrs. Edward Gardiner of Cheapside and later Lambton; and wife of Col. Richard Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy’s cousin.
Influenced by her elder cousins Lizzy and Jane, and romantically inspired by their loving relationships with Darcy and Bingley, Caroline (who first appeared as a child in Book One of “The Chronicles”) has come of age. She’s grown into a smart, strong, and tenacious woman (like so many of Jane Austen’s characters). Married to “our favorite Colonel,” Caroline has, unsurprisingly, known great joy in her life. She’s also experienced tremendous sorrow. Both helped to make her a role model for her extended network of family and friends.
Readers of the series will recognize many of the plot lines and events which take place in this book from previous volumes. However, seeing them here, viewed and experienced through a different lens, affords the reader a sort of emotional validation. For me, it was like watching a wall of video screens whose cameras were all trained on the same location, but placed at different angles. Hence the viewer (or reader in our case) sees events on-screen unfolding from a variety of slightly different perspectives.
Caroline Fitzwilliam’s complex character had been hinted at, touched upon, and alluded to in previous books in the series. But those references only teased this reader into wanting to know more about her. Caroline had been a peripheral character in Books 1 – 5, but here, she is a shining star – taking control of her life as she falls in love, marries, raises her children, supports her husband in his political career and helps run her father’s business, when he falls ill. This is not your typical Victorian housewife.
Readers of the series will know that there are some difficult parts to read, which deal with the loss of two beloved children. I was reluctant to read them myself. However, like Lizzy at the piano, I managed to “fudge and slur my way through the difficult passages,” to arrive at another wonderful reading experience!
Series readers will undoubtedly be pleased at the reappearance of Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins in a humorous episode at Pemberley, where Mr. Bennet enjoys baiting his pompous, self- important and completely unwitting cousin, in much the same ways that he did in the original Pride and Prejudice (and to the great amusement of the rest of the company.)
For readers new to the series, the book can easily stand on its own, but I must warn you… the characters (new and old) are addicting! You’ll want to read more… and luckily, there are many more volumes in this series to readboth before and after My Cousin Caroline.
The second book in Jane Austen sequel that I am reviewing today is My Cousin Caroline by Rebecca Ann Collins. This is book 6 in the acclaimed Pemberley Chronicles series, and it tells the tale of Caroline Gardiner (Elizabeth’s cousin) and Colonel Fitzwilliam (Darcy’s cousin).
This book takes a different turn than many of the Pride and Prejudice sequels; rather than simply detailing the courtship between Caroline and her Colonel, My Cousin Caroline actually showcases a much broader timeframe. From the time she meets her husband through the raising of her children, Caroline’s life is detailed. And what a life she leads.
Unwilling to be a subservient and docile wife, as was the norm in Victorian England, Caroline becomes an outspoken supporter of reformist policies. Her spirit and dedication, despite the risks to her reputation and the fact that her behavior is scandalous, make Caroline a very likable heroine, and I fell in love with her and her story. This book was a four and half star read, and it will certainly appeal to fans of Austen, P&P sequels and spirited, outspoken women alike.
The appeal of Pride and Prejudice is that it speaks to readers on many different levels. For some people it is the romance that appeals the most. For me, it is the wonderful role model that is Elizabeth Bennett. She is strong, vivacious and willing to stand up for what she believes in.
In My Cousin Caroline we get introduced to another woman with all these characteristics, and many more.
Caroline Gardiner, Elizabeth’s cousin, daughter of Mr and Mrs Gardiner, is a strong, amazing woman. Rather than settling down to a life as a wife and mother, like all the other woman of Derbyshire, she chooses to actively assist her husband, Colonel Fitzwilliam, with his political aspirations, helping her father with his business, and actively helping the poor.
Caroline, with her singled minded determined nature, brought this story to life. She is my favorite kind of heroine, sweet and subtle, and yet also strong-minded. Watching her life progress from wife and mother, to being an advocate for the poor and needy, was wonderful. If the regency era needed a new role model, alongside the ever-amazing Elizabeth Bennett, then they’ve found one in Caroline.
My Cousin Caroline is set against the political upheaval of the 1800’s and while still a romantic regency novel, it has a grittier edge. As Colonel Fitzwilliam embarks on a political career you get a real sense of the trials and tribulations that occurred during the parliament at this time. As a fan of novels set against political scenes such as these, I reveled in reading about young politicians trying to bring about reform, and help a struggling nation.
Fans of the original Pride and Prejudice will still find a lot to love in My Cousin Caroline. Many of the much loved characters are ever-present, including Darcy and Elizabeth, who are the same charming couple we all know and love.
While the main story does focus on Caroline and her husband, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and their plight to bring about social reform, there is still all the markings of a subtle regency romance. Amongst the many families of Derbyshire, are the ups and downs of many much-loved characters, including romance, marriages, and even the sadness of death.
So readers, grab yourself a comfy spot on the couch and a nice cup of tea, and dig into the latest from Rebecca Ann Collins. You definitely won’t be disappointed.
The only way this book could be better is if Austen wrote it herself. It was a superb book and made me smile. Without giving everything away in the book, I included some of my favorite parts below.
My Cousin Caroline is the 6th book in the Pemberly Chronicles, but could be taken out of the series and read alone. The timeline of this story starts back at the beginning, Jane and Elizabeth’s wedding. Caroline falls in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam and the story follows their life together. I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the thoughts of Colonel Fitzwilliam at the beginning of the book. I love the idea of him being secretly in love with Lizzie first, although I am so happy that he finds Caroline.
Since the timeline of this story goes back to the beginning of this series, it’s fascinating reading a different perspective of certain characters, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Emily Gardiner, and Paul Antoine, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, even Lydia. I was crushed again while reading the account of the unfortunate accident of Edward Fitzwilliam and William Darcy. It was so hard to read the first time and even though I knew it would happen and I was expecting it really was heartbreaking.
In the last book, Mr. Darcy’s Daughter we learned more details about the Gardiners’ business and how Caroline had become very involved. In My Cousin Caroline we were able to read first hand how Robert’s behavior really changed and molded some of Mr. Gardiner final decisions. I think one could draw a parallel to Rose and Robert and their affiliation with the business and how many people act in our time today. At one point in the book Emily says to Caroline, “Don’t be too hard on them, Caroline, both Robert and Rose have grown up rather different to the way we did.” This statement says it all. Just a few lines down we read about how Robert and Rose are full of interests and life, but charity and work are just not one of them. I think this is so true of people in our world today!
Isabella. I love her character, first she is in love, but with a character that might be shady, then she finds love again only to have that shaken too. I just wanted to clap out loud at the end of the book when Mr. Philip Bentley came back and had made a name for himself. I loved that ending!
I could easily say that My Cousin Caroline was my favorite out of the entire Pemberly Series, but then when I sit down and take out each book in the series I am reminded why I love each and one so much. There are few things I love more than reading and enjoying a wholesome book. Not only has Rebecca Ann Collins provided me with a wholesome great book, but a whole series of them that I can enjoy over and over. Each character is though out and well developed and I easily fall in love with them. This book can be read if you are new to the series or in sequence, either way I believe there is no way that My Cousin Caroline will disappoint.
Written in much the same style and tradition of her predecessor, Jane Austen, the author brings to life the love story of Caroline Gardiner and Mr. Darcys cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.
The novel takes place in a time of tremendous upheaval in England; a time of great economic depression and public unrest. Due to the writers vast knowledge of the political history and cultural norms of that period, the reader can glean a wealth of insight into the era, while enjoying the familiar characters found in Jane Austens original classic, Pride and Prejudice.
As an Austen fan, I found this masterfully written and historically interesting. Its a book Im sure Ms. Austen would appreciate.
(Thank you to Sourcebooks for my review copy.)
As a fan of "Pride and Prejudice" I was NOT disappointed! Rebecca Ann Collins Chronicles of Pemberley series carries on the tradition and characters of Jane Austens "Pride and Prejudice" and "My Cousin Caroline" continues beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed reading as Colonel Fitzwilliams and Carolines love grew and blossomed. I also enjoyed learning the political turmoil that was going on during the Regency period and through the transition to the Victorian era. Keeping with the same pace and style as Jane Austen, this book flowed beautifully. One thing that I really liked is that instead of the book being 300 pages of the courtship, we are walked through the wedding, through Caroline and Col. Fitzwilliams childrens births, through life and death in their families and without losing the essence of the book.
Although this is the 6th book of the series and the first one I have read, I am certainly going to go back and read the first five!
Out of all of the characters in this series and out of all the couples and courtships we have seen Caroline and Fitzwilliam were my favorite and I have been looking forward to reading their story since I started reading the series. It has turned out to be my favorite out of the whole series so far.
My Cousin Caroline spans the timeline of all of the previous novels in the series but through Caroline’s eyes. Her point of view was so refreshing. Her perspective really brought these stories, that I have read before, to life. I also never thought that I would appreciate Colonel Fitzwilliam as a romantic hero but I did. I knew he was a nice guy based on Pride and Prejudice but I never thought he would be as interesting or as attractive a hero as Darcy. But as I am usually wrong and able to admit I am wrong, I will admit I am wrong here. He was a great hero.
The most shining moment in this book is the romance between Isabella, Caroline and Fitzwilliam’s daughter, and Phillip Bentley, a man with a semi-shady past. Their relationship gave me that squishy, kinda wanna cry feeling. His scenes at the end did make me cry. He is so heartbreakingly sweet. I was rooting for him and was so glad when he eventually got the girl. I hope Collins follows this couple later in the series.
As I said before, this was my absolute favorite in the series. I have loved this whole series but this book really resonated with me. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and it is on my list of favorite Jane Austen sequels.
Colonel Fitzwilliam and his wife Caroline are a thoroughly modern couple before the days of womens lib. Shes a wife, mother and matchmaker for the younger members of the family but also a reformer and businesswoman. The supportive relationship and friendships the two have help them survive heartache while still helping the people around them. Together with the Darcys and others their family, friends, and neighbors survive the whims of the aristocracy and upheavals of life.
Rebecca Ann Collins takes us back to the early nineteenth century in England with characters that have been ongoing in the first books and newer ones to enhance the tale. Were reminded of things that happened to get us where we are then move on with a continuity that lets the book stand alone. Jane Austen fans will be comfortable with the writing style but, for others, it may take some getting used to. Ms. Collins writes like were living the times rather than just having a tale told to us years later. Its refreshing in many ways.
The book is filled with characters who each have their own unique part of the story. Given the number of people who appear it may be difficult for some to remember where they belong so the author includes an appendix. Her writing style and the explanations given while the story are told make it easier for me to follow than in many books with fewer characters.
As a fan of history this story gives me most of the nineteenth century in England. Its also a warm tale thats romantic in the actions and dialogue of the couples without sexual verbiage. Ms. Collins has another winner in this series that gives us life with all its ups and downs.
Overall rating: 4/5 Hearts
Sensuality rating: Sweet
This is, before you rush out and buy it, book six in a ten-book series following on from the events in Pride and Prejudice. This continues the story of minor character Caroline Gardiner, the daughter of the Bennets’ uncle and aunt. This is her story, telling the tale of her refusal to become a dutiful, compliant wife and her career as a forthright reformeras well as her business sense when her father becomes illand, of course, her romance.
This saga is something rather different from the usual run of Austen sequels, taking minor characters and cutting them a story of their own from whole cloth while at the same time including the familiar P&P characters. It is not an easy book to read without reading the others first, and trying to do so is rather akin to being invited to a party where you don’t know anybody. The author (who is Australian) demonstrates a good knowledge of the period and its mores, and Caroline is a modern young woman who wants more than the meager rights that society can give her. This makes it sound rather as though it is just another tale of women’s fight for equality, which is unfair. Austen fans are treated to a novel that contains something of the appeal of the original, while at the same time adding much that is uniquely that of the author as well as plenty of appeal for the modern female reader. I aim to read the whole series.
My Cousin Caroline volume six in the Pemberley Series of sequels by Rebecca Ann Collins.
Reviewed by Mary-Anne Jones ( teacher of English Literature and Austen enthusiast )
I have to admit that I come to this task from an unusual standpoint; I was, and still am for the most part, not a fan of sequels, particularly those written with little or no connection to the original work and values of Jane Austen.
When a student of mine first brought in a copy of “Mr Darcy’s Daughter” in 2001, I was frankly sceptical about the value of such a book, thinking it was just another run of the mill “sequel”; but having been persuaded to try it, I must confess that I could not put it down and read it through to the end at 2 am in the morning.
Since then, I have read the entire series and am a complete convert to the work of Rebecca Ann Collins, chiefly because of the closeness of her work to the true spirit of Jane Austen and the authentic flavour of the novels.
“My Cousin Caroline”, book six in this popular series , is no exception. Indeed, it is an excellent example of the way Ms Collins skilfully blends people, locations and themes from “Pride and Prejudice” with her own cast of characters and a range of issues that were part of the historical context of Georgian and Victorian England.
Like Jane Austen, Ms Collins tells a love story in which a young man and woman meet, fall in love and must overcome a variety of “obstacles” before they may marry and find happiness together. Intrigue and Romance are the stuff of Regency literature of the era and indeed, the main difference between Austen and Collins may be found in the way Ms Collins draws our attention to social and cultural matters as she involves them in the day to day lives of her characters, while Austen concentrated on drawing her superb pen portraits set in a small town context, which mostly ignored the big social issues of the day.
In “My Cousin Caroline”, which runs across the time span of the first five novels, the author recounts the romance of Colonel Fitzwilliam and Caroline Gardiner, who meet at the wedding of Darcy and Elizabeth. He is a rising politician and she a lovely, talented young girl with a serious streak in her character that fits in exactly with his keen social conscience. The development of their love story runs parallel with the rise of the Reformist movement in England, which campaigned for public education for children,, better working conditions for women and an end to slavery. Carefully researched material adds an authentic historical flavour to the narrative and gives some weight to the lives of the characters, who do much more than fall in love and fall into bed!
As the tale is told, the families of the Bingleys, Darcys and Gardiners come together and we see our favourite characters from “Pride and Prejudice” play their new roles; Darcy to counsel, Elizabeth to love and comfort, while Mr Bennet and Mr Collins return in a hilarious episode to keep us all entertained. I liked very much the way the lives of all these people are woven together into a colourful tapestry of life in 19th century England.
There is romance and humour as we travel through life with Caroline, her Colonel and their children, particularly Isabella, for whom the path of true love is certainly a troubled and difficult one. Caroline’s warm hearted, compassionate response to her daughter’s troubles demonstrates her maturity as the author explores her development with affection and sensitivity.
The characters are entirely credible and consistent and their stories are told in an unpretentious, yet authentic narrative style which never gets in the way, while the dialogue and letters are lively and always in character, all making for a very happy reading experience.
To say that I enjoyed this novel would be true, but it would also be an understatement. I loved it.
After recently reading a book about Pemberley, I felt afraid this book, "My Cousin Caroline," would seem boring. After all, what else could happen? As far as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, their material needs are met: lovely children, a beautiful estate, servants, gardens, etc. What else could happen? What would come next after love and marriage and the babies in a baby carriage? Was there more to thread on to Jane Austens "Pride and Prejudice" yarn?
I can say a resounding yes there is more to learn about the inhabitants of Pemberley and surrounding homes and villages. "My Cousin Caroline by Rebecca Ann Collins is a page turner. Caroline is very different from Elizabeth, Jane and most of the females I had met in "Pride and Prejudice." Caroline knows she has a mind. She knows her mind is made to be used for more than a bonnet frilled with lace and ribbons. By golly, she wants to use it. When political conversations go on around her, she is unafraid to speak up. Caroline shares opinions about working hours for the poor, the mills and the health and welfare of poor and unhealthy children. Hearing Caroline speak out walked me in to a different world from the one where women whispered about husbands and wealth while embroidering or lifting a tea cup. There is quite a bit about the slavery question too.
However, I loved the other world too. I loved the gossip about who would marry whom, what widow didnt have a dime and what girl was altogether too flighty. So, to satisfy me there was a little this and a little that in "My Cousin Caroline." Still, Rebecca Ann Collins begins to pull apart the myth that women are incapable of keeping a happy husband, raising children and caring about the outside world.
I liked "My Cousin Caroline" because I could feel a frantic and quicker pace. Each day there is a new struggle to face, a new change to make or not make. To me, it seemed like all of the English villagers were on the move, literally or figuratively. There is talk of reform constantly. There is the poorhouse, education for children and working businessmen without one ethical bone in their bodies and there is a coming war. I really felt as though my world had become a part of their world. "With the onset of a recession, unemployment was increasing..."
I could go on and on writing about "My Cousin Caroline." I loved this book. Rebecca Ann Collins sequel to "Pride and Prejudice" is just overwhelmingly spellbinding.
Length: 9 in
Width: 6 in
Weight: 17.00 oz
Page Count: 352 pages