By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 27 2014 02:00PM
Joan Aiken’s books were among the delights of my childhood – propulsive, plot-driven novels in the Gothic spirit of Victorian classics like The Woman in White, but written in language more accessible to the tween set.
I adored The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (plucky girls menaced by heartless adults, while furry predators howl outside in the snow), and I still vividly remember the factory in Midnight Is a Place, where child laborers pick lint off carpets and sprint to safety moments before a heavy pressing plate descends to crush them.
So imagine my joy when I learned that the insanely prolific Aiken, author of more than one hundred books for children and adults, had a sideline in Jane Austen spinoffs. She wrote six -- sequels to Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Mansfield Park, as well as a 1996 completion of Austen’s fragment The Watsons, the subject of today’s post in my "Watsons in Winter" blog series.
The result may not quite merit the rosy glow of my childhood memories, but it’s a breezy and good-humored novel, albeit one that owes less to Austen than to the Victorian novelists Aiken so often emulated.