Title: Follies Past
Author: Melanie Kerr
Publisher: Petticoat Press
Genre: Historical fiction/ Classic spin-off
Length: 272 pages
“Follies Past” should be the name of the file folder for every other Jane Austen spin off, because this book blows them all out of the water.
This is by far the best Austen spin off I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Most Pride & Prejudice sequels or prequels read like fan fiction, but Kerr has managed to construct a novel that reads like one of Austen’s own making. It could very well have been a long lost manuscript of Jane’s, documenting the characters of Pride & Prejudice before they encounter the Bennets.
I was so happy reading this, I’ve always longed to get a bit more of Georgiana’s story. Kerr does an excellent job of taking the small tidbits of information we know about characters and giving them a full and lush back story without straying from our vision of them.
I think Caroline Bingley was truly brought to life as well. I both hate her more and less – how is that possible? Through Darcy’s eyes: “He ought to have known that a lady who is too sparkling and clever is also cunning and insolent and not to be trusted.”
Much is learned from Darcy’s perspective without the act of spelling everything out, something other books have done in diary form turning Darcy into an effeminate sap. Instead, from Kerr, Darcy expresses himself naturally and in his own fashion: “Gibbon’s History is worth an entire library of your sentimental drivel. The depth and breadth of his scholarship paints a picture of the Empire that may never be surpassed. How can you compare such an achievement to your works of vapid sentiment.”
Kerr has stayed true to the characters, true to the time, and yet wielded a rich and elaborate story. It’s beautiful and brilliant, and I cannot imagine an Austen fan who would not love it.
My one criticism is this: I ADORE the front cover of this book – but my first and continuous reaction is that it is not a cover that belongs on *this* book. It’s a fun and awesome piece of art, I’d even hang it on my wall I like it so much, but it doesn’t truly portray what is within the pages.
Below, Miss Golightly is caught on film inspecting Kerr’s book. She had the same reaction I did to the cover, “Oh I love that cover! Wait, her writing sounds like it could be Jane Austen! That’s incredible. I’m a little confused by the cover now.”
Five stars for the story. Five stars for the cover art. But only three stars for matching the cover art to the story.