Release Date: January 5th 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars
In this gorgeously written and spellbinding historical novel based on Pride and Prejudice, the author of The Clergyman’s Wife combines the knowing eye of Jane Austen with the eroticism and Gothic intrigue of Sarah Waters to reimagine the life of the mysterious Anne de Bourgh.
As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.
After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?
In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.
An extraordinary tale of one woman’s liberation, The Heiress reveals both the darkness and light in Austen’s world, with wit, sensuality, and a deeply compassionate understanding of the human heart.
The Heiress is a beautiful historical fiction tale that follows Anne de Bourgh, a side character from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Anne is the heir to her father’s estate and has spent much of her child under the influence of laudanum. From a young age she has been promised to her cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy. When Darcy’s engagement to Ms Elizabeth Bennett is announced Anne is cast aside and wonders what will become of her future. In order to escape the control of her mother Anne flees to London and takes up residence with her cousin John. Whilst there she shakes off the influence of her ‘medicine’ and takes her first steps into London society but will that be enough to allow her to take up the mantle of mistress of Rosings Park?
The Heiress is a really gorgeously written story, and one I was really intrigued by. I love the idea of following a side character from a well known story and I was eager to see where Greeley would take the story. The Heiress very much focuses on addiction and how Anne spends much of her life under the influence of laudanum. It was a really interesting subject but I felt the pacing was a little off in this story. We spend a large portion of the story following Anne in childhood where she lives in a cloudy haze. Her decision to stop taking the laudanum and subsequent withdrawal symptoms appeared to be over relatively quickly in comparison.
The story took me a little while to get into but I found myself particularly intrigued as Anne steps into society and begins to learn more about the world around her. I liked the relationship between Anne and Eliza, though the story did become a bit more romance focused that I was expecting. The ending of the story was really satisfying and I really liked the way that Molly Greeley wrapped everything up.
This well written tale is my first by Molly Greeley and while it wasn’t an absolute favourite I would be eager to try more from this author.