Rebecca Ann Collins
The Pemberley Chronicles Series
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Why Revisit Netherfield?
When on page one of Pride and Prejudice. Mrs Bennet announces “ My dear Mr Bennet, have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last ?” we are in no doubt that the story has begun. Her machinations to catch the amiable and eligible tenant Mr Bingley for one of her five daughters and later particularly for the loveliest of them all- Jane, obsess Mrs Bennet from then on.
It affects dramatically the lives of the Bennet family at Longbourn, especially Jane and her sister Elizabeth. In the end after an agonising period of indecision and intrigue, Jane does marry her beloved Mr Bingley and Elizabeth, after even more agony and tortuous twists of plot, is claimed by his friend and mentor- Mr Darcy. At the end of the novel, we are assured that both couples lived very happily- having moved- the Darcy’s to Pemberley and the Bingleys to the next county- far from the small town society of Longbourn and Meryton.
Having followed their progress through the first years of their married lives in the challenging and dynamic world of 19th century England, and observed their children growing up- in the first two volumes of The Pemberley Series, I was intrigued by the prospect of a return to Netherfield Park by another, younger, Mr Bingley – Jonathan, the handsome, likeable son of Jane and Charles. He is already married to Amelia-Jane Collins- daughter of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins- as a result of a rather hasty romance , which appears to be causing him some grief. They live at the Dower House on the Rosings estate- a situation that Jonathan finds rather boring, but his wife enjoys. This opened up the prospect of a return to Netherfield Park, which is conveniently available again- with consequences for Jonathan and his family.
The story took on a life of its own thereafter. Having decided that Ameilia –Jane was going to be a problem, how was Jonathan to be unshackled? Coincidentally and happily for the author, in a previous volume, Charlotte’s sister Maria Lucas had been married to a Doctor Faulkner and settled in Meryton- which made it easy to introduce into the story their daughter- Anna, beautiful and accomplished and recently returned from Europe.
The malign influence of Miss Bingley- who has never got over her disappointment- also provides some scope and the circumstances are set.
Almost from page one, the story of Netherfield Park Revisited developed its own momentum- with only a little bit of careful working out. I shall say no more- since I do not wish to spoil it for future readers- except to say that once the cast of characters is set in an authentic environment- where the rules of society and personal conduct are clearly understood, the characters develop and the story evolves almost organically, without any need for manipulation or contrivance.
Jonathan Bingley is my favourite male character in the series and had hung around like a good actor in a minor role, waiting for something better to turn up. Even before I had finished The Women of Pemberley, I had begun drafting Netherfield Park, Revisited- to give Jonathan Bingley his very own niche in the Pemberley Chronicles. It has turned into one of my favourite episodes in the series and it seems my readers agree.
RAC. August 2007
Rebecca Ann's Notebook
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
DISCOVERING MR DARCY
FIRST IMPRESSIONS - READER'S VIEWS
WHY REVISIT NETHERFIELD