Full Review from Miranda:
Over the years, undoubtedly many a reader has imagined what a sequel to Pride and Prejudice would be like.  What would have become of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, two of literature’s most beloved characters?   Jane Austen fans now have Ava Farmer to thank for this in Second Impressions, a superb continuation of Miss Austen’s masterpiece.  Second Impressions brings the Bennets, the Darcys, Mr. Collins and, of course, the imperious Lady Catherine de Bourgh, back to life.  We also become better acquainted with a couple of the lesser characters from Pride and Prejudice, and are reintroduced to some from another of Miss Austen’s novels. 

Second Impressions moves far beyond the bucolic environs of Hertfordshire and Derbyshire as the Darcys venture out to explore England, Scotland and Wales, and Europe, in the peace following the Napoleonic Wars.  The Darcy family’s travels are meticulously researched and filled with fascinating pieces of history and rich descriptions of places and things they encounter along the way.  I found myself consulting Google maps to trace their routes and made margin notes for reference.  A vivid, and at times, surprising picture emerges of life in the coastal villages of the south and west, and the commercial towns such of Bristol.  On the Continent, the family’s journey over the Alps is noteworthy, largely because of the great road through the Simplon Pass that has made this possible.  Imagine how a horse and carriage, laden with passengers and trunks outfitted for half a years’ journey could have made such a trip on crude, mountainous roads.  

Second Impressions is very much a scholarly work.  It is an ambitious study that delves into numerous aspects of late Regency life.  Technological advances, engineering feats and social trends are dealt with in a learned manner.  We see Mr. Darcy, a man with a great sense of responsibility and natural curiosity, attending scientific lectures and studying the advantages of coal-gas as a safer and more efficient source for light.  He is also searching for ways to improve his lands, crops and equipment.   To complete the picture, we are brought to London and Paris for glimpses of the elegant world of soirees, salons, dances and operas.  In marked contrast to this, we see the filth, noise and chaos that were the city streets.  The destructive evils of gambling, an addiction of epidemic proportions during this time, is also sadly evident.

True to Miss Austen’s own keen observations on character, Miss Farmer doesn’t miss a beat. It is a pleasure to see how the relationship between Mr. & Mrs. Darcy has developed in the years following their marriage and to once again enjoy their witty repartee.  Also true to Miss Austen’s well-known writing style, the story is told with wonderful humor.
When I started Second Impressions, I read slowly and savored each page.  As I became more involved with the story, I began to read at a faster pace and with increasing anticipation.  It is both an immensely enjoyable and educational book.  It has the lifting effect of transporting one to a time of greater civility, a welcome respite from some of the baser aspects of today’s world.

PS –If you have the opportunity to attend one of Ms. Farmer’s book signings, by all means do so.  She is an engaging speaker, and an expert on all things Austen and Regency.