Miss de Bourgh in Bath

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Fanfiction
Title: Miss de Bourgh in Bath
Author(s): SwordSwallower17
Date(s): September 2009 – July 2010
Length: 120,000 words
Genre: het, sequel
Fandom: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
External Links: ff.net

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Miss de Bourgh in Bath is a novel in the Pride and Prejudice fandom by SwordSwallower17, first published in 2009–10. It follows the fortunes of the minor character Anne de Bourgh after the end of the novel, combining a coming-of-age tale for Anne with a het romance with an original character.

Sickly and cross Anne is a blank slate in canon (she has no direct lines); perhaps because of this, she is a moderately popular character in sequels. SwordSwallower does not take the route of many sequels of assuming Anne is concealing her true feelings, but slowly develops her character over the course of the novel from holding similar opinions to her mother to independence of thought. Anne's partner, a doctor's son who is training for the law, is just one of many OCs, which the novel uses to examine Anne's prejudices and the class structure of P&P.

Apart from Anne, the main canon characters are Lady Catherine & Colonel Fitzwilliam, who gets an OC partner. There are cameos from Charlotte Collins & the newly married Elizabeth Darcy, and Anne's companion Mrs Jenkinson also plays a significant role. The majority of the novel is set in Bath (with a minor Persuasion crossover), but there are also chapters in Rosings and Hunsford Parsonage.

Miss de Bourgh in Bath was published in installments to FanFiction.Net. It does not appear to be archived elsewhere. The author summary is After Mr. Darcy takes the thoroughly unsuitable Miss Bennet to be his wife, a most seriously displeased Lady Catherine and her daughter repair to Bath in search of new prospects. What adventures await Anne in the exciting spa city? The author rating is K+ (broadly equivalent to PG).

The novel is the first in a series; there are two sequels, The Miss Bennets Set Forth (2010–13) and the unfinished The Last Miss Bennet (2013– ), which follow Kitty & Mary Bennet in the same universe.

Inspiration

The author's note states:

I'm always interested in the fringe characters of just about everything, and Anne de Bourgh is one of my favorites. I just think her position is so unique—she's a wealthy, high-ranking young woman, who should by rights be very powerful and independent (for the time period), but instead she's constantly under her the thumb of her mother, who just about defines power and independence. I'm sure Lady Catherine was quite the Big Lady on Campus in her heyday, and the fact that she didn't encourage her daughter to follow in her footsteps—that she in fact did pretty much the opposite, by never encouraging her towards any accomplishments and never even having her come out—is so remarkable to me. It's my belief that this is mostly an issue of control, that Lady Catherine recognized she wouldn't be able to easily manage a younger version of her own self, so instead she molded Anne into someone more convenient. But, of course, Anne is Lady Catherine's daughter, so she must have at least a little bit of gumption, right?

Reception

Miss de Bourgh in Bath was generally well received. As of 30 January 2014, it has received 227 reviews & 174 favourites at ff.net. The novel has been recommended at Fancake, Multifandom Het Recs, TV Tropes and elsewhere. Reviewers appreciate the complexities of Anne's character and her realistic development over the course of the novel. The well-drawn OCs, who fit well in Austen's world, are also highlighted.

Recs & Reviews

This is a great follow up to Pride and Prejudice that not only gives attention to a great secondary character, but also stays true to the world and characters created by Austen. This fic is magic in the way it presents the slow awakening of Anne de Bourgh as she steps outside Rosings Park and realizes that the world is not quite as Lady Catherine has painted it. I like that Anne makes mistakes and misjudges and slowly wakes to her own prejudices and flaws, even as she discovers the world and her own capabilities and value. She's petulant and jealous at times, but also brave and kind and willing to correct herself--a true fleshed out character. You'll be cheering for her and wishing for her happy ending. The supporting cast is varied and textured, and there are some lovely cameos by some familiar characters. Enjoy! (annerb in Multifandom Het Recs)[1]
After Lady Catherine's planned marriage between Darcy and her daughter falls apart, she takes Anne to Bath in search of a prospective husband. Out in the world for the first time, Anne finds that there's a lot out there to see and to love.

I never thought of seeking out fic about Anne de Bourgh; honestly, she wasn't the most interesting of Austen's secondary female characters and I don't think she actually said a word during the course of the book. That said, I love stories about minor Austen characters and wanted to take a break from the endless variations on the Elizabeth/Darcy theme so I gave this fic a try. And wow, am I glad I did.

Sheltered to the point of reclusiveness while at the same time raised with a highly elevated view of herself and her class, Anne is an intriguingly complex character and SwordSwallower does a brilliant job of delving deep into her psyche. Anne's growth from a snobby but uncertain wallflower parroting her mother's beliefs into a thinking, interesting woman capable of interacting with the world around her is a slow and fascinating process and just by itself is enough to warrant this rec.

Of course, Austen fic wouldn't be Austen fic without romance and this fic delivers in that regard as well. SwordSwallower does a tremendous job both with all of her OCs and while I really like Anne's love interest, I love his family even more. With miscommunication and high drama, but also with a firm foundation of friendship and family, it's a realistic and satisfying romance.

(As a side note, can I just state how happy I was to see a fic where Colonel Fitzwilliam is *not* the male love interest? As one of the very few Austen bachelors who doesn't turn out to be a villain, I think he's been married off to every single second-string Austen female. Multiple times. He's a nice guy and all, but really, I think he deserves a break.)

With a writing style very reminiscent of Jane Austen's; a layered, complex leading lady; and an elaborately researched world fully populated with interesting OCs, Miss de Bourgh in Bath is a long, engaging, and very satisfying story. (Jane Elliot)[2]
I have a weakness for stories that undercharacterized background characters and fleshes them out. This is a wonderful example. The author gives Anne personality, but in such a way that it's still completely in line with the text. She also creates wonderful original characters and uses them to shape Anne into a character that I became terribly fond of. I definitely count this story as one of my favorite Pride and Prejudice fics. (Tani in Fancake)[3]
In the wake of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's marriage, Lady Catherine decides to take Anne to Bath in order to catch a husband. In the process, Anne meets several originalcharacters who help her grow as they become her friends and enemies. The realistic character development Anne undergoes as she gets strong enough to oppose her mother is very well done. Though there is a large amount of original characters, who the majority of the canon characters take a backseat to, those newbies are so well drawn out, they feel like they belong in the P&P world. (Lacey in TV Tropes)[4]

References

  1. ^ het_reccers: 'Miss de Bourgh in Bath' by SwordSwallower17 (accessed 31 January 2014)
  2. ^ janes-recs: Miss de Bourgh in Bath by SwordSwallower17 (PG) (accessed 30 January 2014)
  3. ^ fancake: Pride and Prejudice: Miss de Bourgh in Bath by SwordSwallower17 (accessed 30 January 2014)
  4. ^ TV Tropes: Fan Fic Recs: Pride and Prejudice (accessed 30 January 2014)