The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley
Historical Fiction, Retelling
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.
What I thought
Have you ever stumbled upon a book and realized that you really needed this story? And that story is based on a side character from a beloved book? Well, here is that book for me.
There are a lot of people who don’t remember who Anne de Bourgh is in Pride and Prejudice. I will be honest I had to think about it for a moment too. She is a side character you only see maybe once twice and it’s her mother that ends up overshadowing her character in the book. This book is her life story and I loved it so much. You are never really told anything about her other than she is sicky and I think that even Austen would like this telling of her. Please do note that this is a slow-paced book from the perspective of Anne who is sometimes drugged.
For anyone who has not read Pride and Prejudice (P&P) or does not really remember Anne, she is the cousin that was promised from birth to Darcy. Neither Darcy nor Anne are supposed to have a choice in the matter because it was their mother’s wishes. So I guess we all should be thankful that it does not appear that anything formal was set up. Due to Anne’s father’s estate set up, it can be inherited by a woman which is very rare for that time. So yes the sisters were thinking about how large an estate this would pull together if their children married, and not about the happiness of those children.
In this book we follow Anne throughout her life and as sheltered as she is you really get to see her spirit as you go through this book. I loved that we get to see her take her life into her own hands and finally come into her own. Anne proves she doesn’t need a man to run her estate and I loved her for that.
We all knew from P&P that Anne’s mother Catherine was a piece of work but drugging your baby just so they wouldn’t cry and would act well behaved is a whole new low. As a mother I am appalled but I am sadly not surprised. However, at this time Laudanum was the magic fix all and they were just beginning to realize how bad it was.
I think my favorite part of this book is how Darcy and Elizabeth are brought back into Anne’s story later in life. It really warmed my heart.
I think that whether or not you are a P&P fan you would like this if you enjoy a good historical book set in Regency England.
My Rating: /5