Despite an assumed match between herself and her cousin Sir James Martin, Miss Susan Martin chose to marry Sir Frederick Vernon, and was very happy for her choice. Though she was courted by Sir Frederick’s younger brother, Mr. Charles Vernon, Lady Vernon disregarded this as soon as she was married. Her union was blessed with a daughter, Frederica, and all three lived happily until a hunting accident laid Sir Frederick low with a life-threatening illness. Frederica had seen her uncle very near her father at the time of his accident, Mr. Vernon seemingly inactive until he spotted her. Worse, her father died in the understanding that his brother would provide for his wife and daughter as he’d stipulated, but Mr. Vernon had no such scruples, and Lady Vernon and her daughter are left to make their own way in society.
I have never read the Jane Austen novella on which this novel was based and I think that helped me enjoy it more. I did in fact very much like it. It deals in very typical Austen themes but it doesn’t quite match the feel of her work. Since I hadn’t read the original novella to compare it against, my expectations weren’t very high, and I ended up genuinely liking the characters and looking forward to seeing what happened and how it all wound up.
My favorite part of the novel was all the misunderstandings that arose based on gossip. At first the gossip was harmful, and I wasn’t fond of that, but soon enough I realized in what direction the story was going and it became very funny. It’s easy to see how such things could arise when the only communication long distance was letters, and anyone could say anything they liked in a letter with no other contact for contradiction in the country. There is also the gap of time, and anything could happen between receipt of a letter and the next. In any case, I thought this was all demonstrated very well, and I got quite a kick out of it.
I also felt that the novel kept very much to a Austen-like propriety. In modern sequels, there is often an over-emphasis on romance, which I like in modern novels, but which I don’t really feel is appropriate for anyone imitating Austen. I enjoy the way Austen’s characters express their feelings for one another, and I think these authors pull off a very credible, discrete imitation, which gives the impression of full feelings with nothing beyond words.
So, when not compared to Jane Austen herself, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter is a wonderful diversion. It was short and pleasant and I enjoyed my time with it. I would definitely recommend it to fans of historical fiction.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book from the Amazon Vine program for review.