Mothering Sunday, a day of flower posies and nice cards and good wishes from mine offspring, so what on earth am I doing engrossing myself in Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith and Stalinist Russia at its most disturbing, alternating with my first Henning Mankell, Faceless Killers and a very gory murder in rural Sweden?
This should be a day to read sweet and lovely books so the fortuitous Fedex arrival of Diana Birchall's Mrs Darcy's Dilemma from the US has saved the day.
I'm not a fully signed up member of the Jane Austen fan club and have fessed up frequently in the past. An admirer but not a devotee so sending me a sequel is a bit of a risk, except no risk because I'm loving it. This is a blessing because I have known Diana, a California-based story analyst at Warner Bros Studios, for a couple of years via various online reading groups, however I think I know her well enough to have been able to say privately, ' not my sort of thing Diana' and she'd have been fine about it.
Life has moved on for the Darcys, Mr never did catch pneumonia from that foolish escapade in the lake and he and Elizabeth, now happily married for many years, have three children on the cusp of adulthood, daughter Jane and sons Fitzwilliam and Henry. The arrival of poverty-stricken Aunt Lydia's two daughters is just livening Pemberley up a treat and I can't wait to get back to the book.
Diana has a mischievous way with her writing, which doesn't surprise me one bit, and is sliding in some new twentieth century meanings looked on with all innocence in the nineteenth century, one about dogs has had me in complete hysterics.
But didn't Jane herself have a little of this witty and unexpected way with words?
So it's a pleasure to report that it absolutely is my sort of thing and I suspect it may even tempt me back to the Chawton Wonder with renewed enthusiasm. I can't really comment on the entire Austen oeuvre because, no, I still haven't read them all. It is a bit like pulling teeth to sit me down with one and get me to the other end, I think I lack the right gene, the sense and sensibility chromosome.
That probably gives you all an attack of the vapours but Diana may just have supplied the right ingredient so fear not, Chawton adulation may happen yet.