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These things, we are told, are sent to remind us t
 from Virginia Beach, VA,  Oct 21, 2008

That sequels can be almost as good as the originals! Ladies of Longbourn, the fourth book in the acclaimed Pemberley Chronicles series brings us inside the lives of the third generation of Darcys, Bingleys, Fitzwilliams, et al. These are the now grown-up grandchildren of our favorites. And once again, we readers are introduced to a number of interesting new characters, who provide additional layers of richness to an already complex story-line. Anne-Marie Bingley is the granddaughter of Jane and Charles. A strong, independent, and seemingly unsinkable young woman, Anne-Marie (deeply impacted by the tragic death of her mother and the odd circumstances surrounding it) is drawn by a number of social and peer pressures into a loveless marriage. Her family and friends are stunned and dismayed but can do nothing other than accept her decision. Being an honorable and deeply principled person (like her father and grandfather), Anne-Marie recognizes her mistake, agonizes over its implications, but remains determined to live with her decision. And for a while, outward appearances suggest that Anne-Marie is content in her marriage. Events transpire which enable her to escape her loveless marriage, but Anne-Marie's honor will not allow her to shake the feelings of guilt and mortification which remain it its wake. She turns for support to the strong Austen-inspired women of her family and receives it in full measure. Determined to move on with her life, Anne-Marie turns her passion toward community service. She begins lobbying for the building of a public children's hospital. Unfortunately, the political leaders of the time see these institutions as the purview of the church or of private funding. And so despite the full support of her family, it appears that a political champion will be needed to make Anne-Marie's dream come true. Her white knight appears in the form of a young, idealistic new MP (appropriately named Colin) who becomes not only her champion in the halls of Parliament, but also the one who would rescue her from a life of loneliness and self-reproach. As in her previous books, Ms. Collins adds a dose of humor to the Ladies of Longbourn. This time it takes the form of Lydia Wickham in a cameo appearance. "Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless." In her later years, Lydia has also become thoughtless and greedy. Elizabeth's long-ago wish of "meeting with another Mr. Collins" is also fulfilled in this book, through the introduction of Mr. Griffin, the lugubrious rector of Netherfield. Ladies of Longbourn is a wonderful continuation of the Pemberley series. It expertly brings the reader along the continuum of changing English society, economics, and politics. And all the while, we remain comfortably ensconced in the rose-colored sitting room with north-facing windows in what could be Pemberley, Netherfield or Longbourn.

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