I had high hopes for "Conviction" after having read the earlier reviews of this book. I love Jane Austen's novels and make every effort to read whatever 'sequel' it is that I could get my hands on.
"Conviction" heads off to a promising start. We are re-introduced to Georgiana Darcy, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, Mr. and Mrs. Bingley, Caroline Bingley and Kitty Bennet. The story begins with Georgiana and her life after the marriage of her brother Fitzwilliam to Elizabeth Bennet. We are introduced to her many suitors including the odious Mr. Davidson and the promising Major Talbot and Jacob Markwood. Georgiana makes her choice early on the the story but starts having second thoughts when her bethroned leaves Derbyshire for Brighton and she gradually falls in love with someone else.
The story and the new characters are, for the most part, interesting. Unfortunately, shortly after the introduction of Jacob Markwood (a vicar), the reader becomes encumbered by the author's decision to let her characters carry on about their 'religious calling' or abolitionist beliefs. These 'rantings' sadly weigh the story down and are incredibly dull and boring. It zaps the life out of the story! Jane Austen was obviously smart enough to avoid this mistake with her characters - even with clergymen like Mr. Collins and Edward Bertram.
Another shortcoming is in the author's use of language throughout the book. At times I wonder if Ms. Burris had done any research on the customs and traditions of the Regency Period. For example, the book is peppered with terms such as "girlish crush" and other modern slang. The British (then and now) do not use the word "crush." It would have been more appropriate to use the term "girlish fancy" instead. Also, anyone familiar with Jane Austen's work would know that only vulgar women (like "Emma's" Mrs. Elton) would address a man without using "Mr." As such, a well-educated and accomplished young lady like Georgiana would never call her older brother "Darcy." Likewise, a vicar would never call Mr. Darcy (his employer and one who is far above him in station) "Darcy."
Fans of "Pride and Prejudice" may be disappointed because characters like Jane and Charles Bingley, Elizabeth and Caroline Bingley are barely in the book. They make 'cameo' appearances but are almost completely absent for most of the story. Early on it becomes clear that Georgiana and one of her specific suitors are the center of the story.
In short, I truly wanted to like "Conviction." There were moments when I liked it but the dullness and predictability sometimes outweighed the good. The tone is solemn and it lacks the humor and wit of Jane Austen's works. The plot is rather thin and the resolution regarding Kitty's romantic potential was quickly patched up. The author leads the reader to believe that a specific suitor is interested in Kitty, then at the last minute he changes his mind and she ends up with someone else (and a character who is barely mentioned in the book)!!
I much preferred Julia Barrett's sequel centering on Georgiana called "Presumption." It is a more coherent, interesting and better written book. "Conviction" is, unfortunately, one of the many mediocre sequels to Jane Austen's works. It had the potential and I truly wish that it had been better.