Monday, October 31, 2011

Expectations of Happiness: A Companion Volume to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility by Rebecca Ann Collins

Expectations of Happiness was a perfect continuation of Jane Austen’s classic, Sense and Sensibility. Marianne Dashwood is not-so-happily married to Colonel Brandon. They are happy when they are together, but Colonel Brandon is often away for long stretches of time tending his estates in Ireland or helping his ward Eliza out of another scrape. His still young and beautiful wife finds herself bored and lonely, and more than a little susceptible to the charms of the still dashing Mr. Willoughby when he helps her and her friends after an accident. Will Marianne find her happy ending in the arms of her husband, or in the arms of Mr. Willoughby?

Elinor and Edward are happily married with two children, but Elinor constantly worries about Marianne. Margaret has become a young woman and a bluestocking. She has a love of learning and is a great teacher at a school near Oxford. During a trip to France with her friend Claire, Margaret finds herself infatuated with a smart, handsome Oxford scholar with a devastating secret of his own. Mrs. Dashwood has found a new occupation and perhaps a new love of her own, but to say more would ruin the plot!

This is my first reading of a Rebecca Ann Collins novel, but I have heard great things about her Pemberly Chronicles. I really enjoyed her style of writing. It was written in the same style as a Jane Austen novel, with traditional language (without our modern slang) and traditional sensibilities (no sex or violence). It was a novel to read slowly and savor. It was also a novel that emphasized romance over sex, which is a type of novel that I really enjoy reading.

I also enjoyed her treatment of the characters. The characters were all treated with respect and in a way that was very faithful to all of Jane Austen’s creations. It was very fun to have old favorites such as Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Jennings, and Sir John Middleton popping back into the story in the same spirit as in Sense and Sensibility. I love seeing Willoughby again, and I also loved the new characters such as Margaret’s love, Daniel. I only had a slight pause with some of the circumstances with Margaret’s independence as a young woman in the later part of the novel. It didn’t seem in tune with the time as much as the rest of the novel, but it could have happened!

I had a couple of favorite quotes in this novel that I really enjoyed as follows:

“Margaret had enjoyed their conversations, not because he agreed with every idea or applauded every proposition she made, but because he listened with interest and responded as though he understood her meaning.” I thought this described the perfect man!

“Were it not for dedicated men and women in the church, who would care for the poor and the sick, the frail and the elderly? Certainly not the government.” I’ve been pondering this quote all week and think it applies even to our current world.

Overall, I thought that Expectations of Happiness was an impeccable and delightful continuation of Sense and Sensibility with fair treatment of the characters, and language and sensibilities that fit the time. I highly recommend it to all lovers of Sense and Sensibility.

For an interesting guest blog by Rebecca Ann Collins on why she thought Sense and Sensibility was ripe for a sequel and a chance to win a copy of this book, check out this link.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Sourcebooks - Thank-you!


  1. This book sounds delicious- and Mrs. Dashwood with a love interest? Too much!

    Can't wait to read it.

  2. Wonderful review, Laura! I especially liked the quotes you chose. I'd enjoy this book very much, I think.

  3. Thank you Laura, for your review and kind comments. I appreciate especially your emphasis on the authenticity of style and characters in Expectations of Happiness, because these are very important to me and are an integral part of my work on Austen sequels. I feel very strongly that a writer who chooses to produce a sequel to a great classic, must respect the intentions and values of the original author and this is what I have tried to do, while creating an entertaining and credible atory.
    Thanks again and I am very happy that you enjoyed the book.
    Best regards,
    Rebecca Ann Collins

  4. Thank-you Rebecca Ann Collins for stopping by - I am honored. I enjoyed Expectations of Happiness very much. It's a book that has kept me thinking a week after I've finished, which is my favorite type of book.

    I forgot to put in my review that this is my seventh item for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge.