Reviews and information pertaining to various sequels and literary allusions to Emma.
Emma Sequels & Allusions: Aunt Celia, 1995? - Review by Lynn Lamy
By Jane Gillespie
The only publishing information I have comes from the Ulverscroft Large Print Books Large Print edition published May, 1995, though I'm guessing there are earlier editions.
Linford Romance Library
Buy Truth and Rumor
Buy Truth and Rumor (UK)
I have enjoyed several of Jane Gillespie's novels, so I was looking forward to this sequel to Emma. I was not disappointed.
Truth and Rumor, taking place twenty years after the action of Emma, deals mainly with the Eltons, the Martins, and their respective children. Gillespie creates two new characters: Mr. John Sharpe, the temporary vicar of Swanford, the village near Donwell Abbey, and a Dr. Daniel Gray, a stranger to the area.
The Eltons have one child, a daughter named Francesca (nicknamed Fanny by her school friends, much to Mrs. Elton's horror), who is as unlike her parents as it is possible to be. She spends the earliest years of her education at Mrs. Goddard's, where she becomes fast friends with Harriet and Robert Martin's eldest daughter, Perdita. Even Francesca's going away to school cannot cool their friendship, and they pick up right where they left off when Fanny comes home. The Eltons do not much care for their daughter's association with the family at Abbey Mill Farm, but Fanny eventually breaks away from her parents' bitterness (with some advice from John Sharpe), and becomes a frequent visitor at the farm.
When a stranger, Dr. Gray, makes a brief visit to the area (assisting Perdita after a fall from a hay cart while there), rumors begin. Mr. Sharpe is suspected (in a rumor put about by Mr. Elton, who has a grudge against Mr. Sharpe) of having seduced the Martin's second daughter (who has gone to visit her aunt in another town). Dr. Gray is suspected of having seduced the same girl, and even Francesca's extended trip with her mother begins to be suspect. Dr. Gray's position in all this? He is the son of a well-liked and respected bishop whose late father left a legacy to a Mrs. Robert Martin of Abbey Mill Farm, and he has come to see who his half-sister is. Matters are complicated when the good doctor falls in love with Perdita, who just happens to be his niece.
How this all resolves itself I will leave you to discover on your own. It's not nearly as convoluted as it sounds.
My only disappointments in this book are minor. Mrs. Goddard is said to be still running the school, which while not impossible, I thought a bit of a stretch. Most of the characters walk between the villages of Highbury and Swanford; I hadn't pictured them being this close, but perhaps this is my own ignorance. The characters Ms. Gillespie created are good; not deep, but believable. The Eltons are bordering on bitter, but perhaps this is where 20 years together would bring them. I liked Mr. John Sharpe and Dr. Daniel Gray, and I liked Fanny's quiet goodness. Mrs. Elton is still quite a horror, which I liked, and Harriet is much as you would expect her to be.
Overall, I would suggest giving this book a try if you come across it, and it's even worth borrowing on interlibrary loan.
- Review thanks to Lynn Lamy