In the aftermath of an unbearable tragedy, how can we navigate a path for ourselves towards hope and faith for our own future?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
This book was the first book I read by Joana Starnes, and it still holds a special place in my heart because it’s the only JAFF sequel that she has published and I consider it one of her finest books. As someone who loves “Pride and Prejudice” sequels, I consider this one that I will reread several times throughout the years. Unlike some JAFF readers, sequels are still my favorite JAFF subgenre because I long to learn about Darcy and Elizabeth’s life together and witness the interactions beyond their own wedding day…
For me, this book kept all things between Darcy and Elizabeth within good taste, while providing a historically astute and engaging storyline. This is not a JAFF book that provides sweeping amounts of angst and drama, though I do enjoy some of those JAFF books as well. It’s a sequel that focuses on allowing us to enjoy the everyday details and daily occurrences within the lives of the landed gentry during Austen’s lifetime. The length of this book at 378 pages, also allows the reader to feel truly immersed in this lovely time period.
Here, we experience the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars through Colonel Fitzwilliam’s own suffering, Georgiana’s guarded entrance into polite society, and the efforts taken between Elizabeth and Georgiana to become sisters in the truest sense of the word. The gem within these stories is how Ms. Starnes writes such great dialogue between her characters, which paints her scenes with such rich, historical details, and helps to develop the storyline in a vivid way between the numerous characters throughout this story.
“From This Day Forward” invites us to witness the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth from its earliest beginnings, as the couple try to become acquainted with their new roles, as well as with each other. For Darcy, this means less obvious changes, yet his life is not without new challenges to work through. Never one to enjoy relinquishing control over situations or heeding to the whims of others, Darcy is easily recognizable here as the Master of Pemberley. As readers can also imagine, for Elizabeth her challenges are found within numerous areas of her life; the housekeeper who doesn’t really warm up to her, the attempts to navigate herself within the august, extended Darcy family, and learning to deal with the formidable ton.
The story is told during three very distinct Christmas seasons in the Darcys’ marriage over a period of approximately twenty years. Ms. Starnes weaves these three season together so that the reader experiences several connections between these assorted family celebrations and traditions, a deep love and appreciation for familial bonds, and the belief that faith in our journey can allow us to hope for a future filled with everlasting love. Reading about these Christmas seasons truly provided this JAFF sequel with a unique perspective and text structure.
This book also contains three JAFF love triangles. This may be my favorite love triangle involving Georgiana, as she faces the overwhelming and confusing challenges of deciding between two eligible suitors, who are both anxiously vying for her heart and her hand in marriage. As kind and demure as ever, Georgiana’ s struggle is so great because the two men set before her really have captured her desires. Yet, both men are vastly different from each other; where one is solid and predictable, the other is charming and mysterious. I cherished the conversations between Elizabeth and Georgiana, as Elizabeth offered Georgiana advice regarding love and marriage told through the lenses of her own relationship with Darcy. I enjoyed the obstacles that Ms. Starnes placed within this triangle, and how these obstacles contributed to Georgiana’s decision-making process. I couldn’t help but have some really bittersweet feelings once Georgiana made her final decision. One of the other triangles in this story served to inspire Ms. Starnes to write her latest book, “The Unthinkable Triangle.”
Throughout the book there are numerous well-written, and beautifully captured sweet moments between our beloved characters… I loved Mr. Bennet in this story and how his visits to Pemberley served as a source of strength and comfort for Darcy and Elizabeth. Unsure about how to provide care and reassurances to the ever distant Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bennet finds a way that they are both comfortable with to communicate his respect and admiration for Darcy and it evolves into such a tender moment between these important men in Elizabeth’s life.
Colonel Fitzwilliam has several wonderful moments throughout the story too. He continues to be the one person, besides Elizabeth, who can set Darcy in his place, and here he does so with a direct and assertive manner. Never one to mince his words, Colonel Fitzwilliam is instrumental is helping Darcy navigate a path to his own healing, even when there are a number of difficulties being faced in the process.
Experiencing the shift in Georgiana and Darcy’s relationship is another enjoyable aspect of this story. Here, we see how Georgiana gains confidence and trust in her own abilities. She also becomes a married woman, with responsibilities of her own, as she leaves Pemberley to run her own household. When events within the story require her to challenge her brother in way that isn’t natural for her, she demonstrates all the poise and wisdom of a well-bred lady. I loved how she took charge here, when other characters didn’t feel as bold about confronting Darcy through this difficult period. As she sets him straight regarding his relationship with Elizabeth, she also offers him her sisterly affections and friendship. Oh, how their relationship changed!
Through her wonderful storytelling, Ms. Starnes provides us with a sequel that captures Austen’s tone and style. This story and its characters stay very true to canon and reads similar to a sequel that Ms. Austen herself could have written. Filled with a good balance of contentment and anguish, combined with nothing but the deepest and most beautiful love, this is a sequel that provides Elizabeth Bennet with everything she really longed for when she gathered besides her sister Jane, all those years ago, to describe her hopes and dreams regarding her intentions for her own wedded bliss… This was a JAFF sequel that truly touched the soul of this P&P lover.
I’d like to thank Joana Starnes for writing this intimate glimpse into three different Christmas seasons at Pemberley. It’s such a beautifully written book! I’d also like to thank her for sharing her fabulous interview for us, which is included in a separate post, along with a giveaway, published today at Just Jane 1813.