Rebecca Ann Collins
The Pemberley Chronicles Series
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Review - Recollections of Rosings
Book News / 2003 -
In this, her eighth novel in the Pemberley Series , Rebecca Ann Collins has turned her attention to Rosings Park- the domain of the redoubtable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, patroness of the lugubrious Mr Collins . Following his death, Lady Catherine extends her patronage to her god-daughter Catherine- eldest daughter of Mr Collins and Charlotte Lucas, inviting her to accept a position as companion in her household.
It is generally assumed, by Catherine ‘s relations and friends that this is a privilege that will give young Catherine Collins a considerable advantage, which it does in a purely material sense. She marries Reverend Harrison – the parson at Hunsford with the approval of Lady Catherine , brings up a family and appears to have a quiet but happy existence.
However, following a disaster at Rosings and the return of a former employee of Lady Catherine, Mr Frank Burnett, certain secrets are revealed, which expose the cruelty and deception practised by Lady Catherine and the manner in which she deprived young Miss Collins of her right to marry the man she loved.
With the support of her sister Becky Tate and her daughter Lilian, Catherine has to navigate her way through some rather stormy waters, working out her own life and that of her young daughter.
Ms Collins ‘ inventive storyline, her credible characters and engaging style- all set her apart as a story teller in her own right rather than a mere sequel writer and in Recollections of Rosings, she has produced an intriguing and compelling love story, which has many of the ingredients that Jane Austen herself used.
With Mr and Mrs Darcy and Jonathan Bingley playing supportive roles , this book brings a new and interesting set of characters and issues to this popular series.
Averil Rose (UK), who wrote the foreword for Mr Darcy’s Daughter provided the following review of Recollections of Rosings -
Purists may object to modern writers using Jane Austen’s characters in extensions of Pride and Prejudice or other Austen novels, because it leads to sloppy, lazy writing, in which authors exploit Austen’s reputation while adding little to our understanding of the original novel.
The same cannot be said of the Pemberley novels of Rebecca Ann Collins, which are well researched and written with care and conviction, as is clearly demonstrated in her latest book-- Recollections of Rosings.
This charming love story is written from the heart; it tells the tale of two sisters- Catherine and Becky Collins ( daughters of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins ) and must be one of her best. It borrows very little from Jane
Austen and gives the reader so much in character, plot and dialogue as we follow their life stories.
The two women- both original creations of Ms Collins, are superbly developed within their mid- Victorian social environment, bringing us new insights into the life and times of Victorian women , their lives, loves and loyalties. Like most women today they yearn for a happy family life and rewarding work, but, they unlike us, had not the independence or the resources to follow their dreams within the narrow confines of the world in which they lived.
The author draws us into their lives and shows us how these remarkably resilient women coped with the pressures of life, poverty and heartbreak and yet had time to give and receive both loyalty and love.
What is most commendable is the author’s ability to write as though she has been there herself- sharing their lives – not just some outsider looking in. It adds a level of authenticity to the novel , which Miss Austen herself would surely have appreciated.
Elsie Cunningham- a reader from the UK writes-
Catherine Collins is a most unlikely heroine. The eldest daughter of the very ordinary Charlotte Lucas and the extraordinarily silly Mr Collins, she is not the sort of person one expects to fill such a role. Yet, in Recollections of Rosings, Rebecca Ann Collins has invested this rather ordinary woman with such sensitivity, strength and passion that her story completely absorbed my attention and captured my sympathies.
With remarkable skill the author weaves a compelling plot around a group of interesting characters, including the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, simultaneously exploring several issues that dominated Victorian society. We are introduced to Catherine’s daughter Lilian, her young suitor- Mr Adams and the rather enigmatic Mr Frank Burnett- who was once Lady Catherine’s librarian, all new players in the series, while the original actors from Pride and Prejudice remain to support and counsel- always providing a solid framework of values.
This is also a poignant love story- not of the usual girl meets boy type, but of much greater depth and sincerity. Catherine’s transformation from a compliant young girl overawed by her wealthy patron into an emancipated and passionate woman capable of organising her own life , supporting her daughter , while learning the value of mature love, is credibly and sensitively done. Her more independent sister Becky Tate adds both humour and warmth to the mix, as we see the relationship between the two sisters develop.
There is humour and outrage in the way Ms Collins tells Catherine’s story and as in the case of Jane Austen, the reader is left in no doubt of her own values.
I think Miss Austen would have approved of Catherine Collins, even though she had a lot of fun at the expense of her foolish father in Pride and Prejudice.
This is a truly moving novel and Ms Collins is to be congratulated on her achievement.
Natalie Jones, NSW.Australia -
My dear Ms Collins,
Having finished reading your last two novels in The Pemberley Series, Recollections of Rosings and A Woman of Influence- I could not wait to tell you how much I have enjoyed them. In fact, they are without doubt my most favourite books in the series and as far as I am concerned, they need not have any link to Pride and Prejudice or Jane Austen at all, because they are just perfect stories in their own right.
I found the characters of the two Collins sisters- Catherine and Becky- so completely believable, so easy to empathise with, they became like personal friends to me. I loved the way you developed the relationship between the sisters and between these two, strong,interesting women and the men who come late into their lives to bring them a chance of happiness.
As I read each chapter, I wanted to know what you had in store for them, I feared things were not going to work out as I hoped and I was delighted when it did. Every detail, every letter and conversation seemed to fall into place, building up a visual and emotional picture of their lives in Victorian England, in a most delightful and satisfying way.
I know you have used some of the favourite characters from Miss Austen’s original novel – P&P and that’s OK, but , believe me, your characters are so credible and their stories are so well told, you do not need the support of any original novel.
I understand we are almost at the end of this series- may I be so bold as to suggest that you attempt something new and give us another example of your imaginative and eveocative writing. I for one will look forward to the next novel by Rebecca Ann Collins .
Thanks very much for a most rewarding reading experience
Wishing you the very best
Recollections of an amazing series! -
It is with a mixture of emotions that I approach the end of the Pemberley Chronicles series. With each new volume , I am drawn deeper into the lives of the characters. I know they’re fictional, but they seem like old friends, and I will miss them when the series concludes.
In Recollections of Rosings, 8th in the 10-book series, our talented author, Rebecca Ann Collins, turns her brilliant lens on two of her original characters: Catherine Harrison nee Collins (eldest daughter of Charlotte Lucas Collins and Rev. William Collins) and her younger sister Rebecca Tate.
These sisters, separated from one another during their formative teenage years, seem to have led almost parallel lives – meeting only rarely, and often on sorrowful occasions. Both women, now in their mid- to late 40’s are forced by circumstances to take stock of their lives and they find in their middle years that their lives are not as fulfilling as they might have wished. Their children are grown. Their husbands are gone. They desire happiness, but have no idea how to find it. Recollections of Rosings focuses primarily on Catherine.
A devastating fire at Rosings Park years after the death of Lady Catherine deBourgh brings a certain Mr. Frank Burnett back to the estate nearly 25 years after he’d served as Lady Catherine’s librarian. While at Rosings, young Frank Burnett meets and falls in love with the teenaged Catherine Collins. Catherine had been invited by Lady Catherine, to live at Rosings Park following the death of her father Rev. Collins. This explains how she became so distant from her sisters.
Lady Catherine’s officious interference (and let’s face it… outright lies) managed to quash a budding romance between Catherine Collins and Mr. Burnett. Despite the fact that neither had declared their feelings for the other, both young people were heartbroken, and neither truly recovered from these events.
Fast forward nearly 25 years- Catherine Harrison has lost her husband (Dr. Harrison, rector at Hunsford and Lady Catherine’s hand-picked choice for Catherine). Her older children are overseas and only her youngest child, Lillian (a young woman on the cusp of adulthood herself) is left to keep Catherine from being alone. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Darcy, Jonathan Bingley (son of Charles and Jane), and the Rosings Trust, Catherine and Lillian continue to live at Rosings Park.
Lillian, we learn, is a strong and self-possessed young lady who will not allow the trappings of wealth to sway her morals. This becomes evident when she travels to London to spend a season with her Aunt Rebecca Tate. Becky, despite being well-read and educated, has become a social climber, and her ambition often blinds her to the seedier side of London society. And so, despite good intentions (to ensure an excellent match for her niece), Becky endeavors to push Lillian into a circle of wealthy but morally bankrupt young people. Lillian is much more astute. She boldly pushes back, and in the process brings about more than just her own marriage, but also a reconciliation of sorts between her aunt and her mother, at a time when each could benefit from a close and trusting relationship with the other.
A loving and careful mother, Catherine seeks to thoroughly vet her daughter’s suitor, Mr. John Adams, about whom she knows very little. She seeks the advice of many friends, including Mr. Burnett (whose knowledge and opinions she had always valued). While fulfilling his professional responsibilities at Rosings – to assess the damage caused by the fire and to evaluate the estates remaining treasures – Mr. Burnett offers his condolences and assistance to the recently widowed Catherine Harrison. Over the course of several months the two become close confidants. When they finally declare their love for one another and discover how they were kept apart for so many years, these two must decide whether to live with anger or to embrace the happiness so long denied them. Happiness wins out.
As always, the author skillfully takes us into the private thoughts and fears of the characters. We learn things as readers that many of the characters’ closest friends don’t know! And perhaps that is why we can empathize even with those who seem most unworthy. This story is such a likely one – full of good intentions gone awry. But thankfully, there are also second chances and opportunities for redemption. Read the book. I know you’ll agree.