After their adventures at Northanger Abbey, Elizabeth and Darcy are looking forward to peacefully celebrating the engagement of his cousin (the older brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam). However, the party comes to an abrupt halt when Anne deBourgh, daughter of the imperious Lady Catherine, runs off to Gretna Green with Henry Crawford to avoid marrying the obsequious Neville Sennex. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam meet up with the married runaways at Gretna Green, and Lady Catherine and Elizabeth join the foursome at Mansfield. Though Henry Crawford is certainly not welcome anywhere near Mansfield Park after abandoning Maria Rushworth (nee Bertram), they are stranded while Anne recovers from an ankle injury. Things are complicated by the arrival of a woman who claims Henry is her husband, John Garrick. Mistaken identity, murder, and duplicity all abound before Anne is able to get her happy ending (and Lady Catherine is appeased enough to accept it).
Like its predecessors in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series, The Matters at Mansfield by Carrie Bebris is a (mostly) lighthearted mystery featuring the best and worst of Austen’s characters. This novel, in particular, features the return of the wretched Mrs. Norris, a character who could have happily stayed buried in Mansfield Park, as far as I’m concerned. But luckily she wasn’t nearly as prominent in this novel. Anne and Colonel Fitzwilliam benefit from the attention of Ms. Bebris’ development. Lady Catherine and Elizabeth are quite humorous as they again go toe-to-toe over every perceived slight.
There were parts in the middle that kind of dragged, but overall, I found the book to be satisfactory, and definitely enjoyed the ending. This is a good series for those who are interested in following Austen’s characters, but aren’t interested in the more erotic bent that seems to characterize a good deal of the Austen “sequels.”
Rating: 3.5 stars
Publisher, ISBN: Forge, 9780765318473