Title: The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh
Author: Molly Greeley
Publisher: William Morrow
Published: 5 January 2021
I received a free eARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, William Morrow!
I’m a sucker for Jane Austen books! I’ll give any of them a try but nothing has compare to the beauty that is The Heiress! Molly Greeley gives readers a re-imagined look into the life of the mysterious Anne de Bourgh. As most of us know from Pride and Prejudice, Anne was engaged to Darcy since they were infants. The daughter of his aunt, his mother’s sister, he never was close with Anne. Of course, since the book centers around Elizabeth and Darcy we are never given a good look into Anne’s life.
First up, Anne de Bourgh is a lesbian!!
Anyway, I’ve tried previous Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen retellings but never got into them. This one was so easy to read, and I couldn’t stop. The story starts from when Anne is a baby and goes all the way through to her death. The epilogue is her dying and being in what I assume is heaven. As stated previously, the doctor gave Anne laudanum when she was a baby and soon became an addict. Greeley gives us the idea that Anne was probably colicky as a baby and a pretty common treatment doctors gave babies for colic was laudanum, unfortunately.
There is a time when her father takes Anne to Brighton for the sea salt bathing regimen. And it does help. It’s the second day when Anne is detoxing that her mother calls a doctor and they prescribe laudanum. She’s “better” in her mother’s and the doctor’s eye, but the problem was never that she was ill, it was the laudanum causing her illness. As a teenager, her governess and, at times companion, Miss Hall tells Anne about her brother who was a laudanum addict. The experiences that Anne has when she doesn’t have laudanum is the same that Miss Hall’s brother. Yet, at the time Anne doesn’t have the power yet to say anything. It’s not only her father’s death that brings Anne clarity about laudanum. It’s a news story about a little boy who died from having too much laudanum. Due to the laudanum, Anne sees visions at night and she sees the boy. That’s when she decides to flee to London.
While staying with her Cousin John and his wife Harriet, Anne begins to learn about herself and forge her own path. Not only that but she finds love and passion while there. Harriet’s brother, Mr. Waters, is interested in Anne but she doesn’t seem that interested in her. I was totally rooting for Anne and Eliza Amherst to be together. Eliza and Julia Amherst are school friends of Harriet. Eliza and Anne form a close friendship and then more. They fall in love. Eliza is a firm feminist. She reads Mary Wollstonecraft and other thinkers of the day. She doesn’t want to be married or have children, and she longs to spend her days with Anne. Sadly, that isn’t possible for someone like Eliza. She doesn’t have Anne’s fortune or freedom. So while Anne proposes marriage, Eliza declines. Eliza marries a friend of her fathers, and Anne goes back to Rosings Park, to finally take her place as mistress of the house. Her mother protests, as per usual, but they learn to not get along per se but coexist. It helps that Lady Catherine is sent to the dower house to live by Anne’s orders.
Lady Catherine does admit towards the end that what she did was out of love, which I do believe. She didn’t want her daughter to suffer and to her eyes, without the laudanum Anne was suffering. At the time, the best advice from doctors was to give babies laudanum.
Of course, there is a happy ending for Anne! Eliza’s husband dies, of natural causes, and after a few weeks, she immediately heads to Rosings Park, to Anne. They live out their days together, in love and to outsiders as companions.
Greeley gives us a re-imagined look into Anne’s life and how it could go on. I’m all for the idea that this is how Anne’s story does play out. In my mind, this is canon, especially, the fact that Anne is a lesbian. I’m all for that part. Not only is the story amazing and well-thought out, but Greeley’s writing is beautiful and pulls readers into the story. I couldn’t help but actually see myself walking the same streets as Anne and seeing the sights and feeling what she felt. I was mesmerized and definitely recommend this not only to those who are Jane Austen fans but those who are fans of family drama and romance. There’s something for everyone in this book! As well as lesbians! I’m going to bring that up every time I can.
Happy Reading Darlings!