Both Cotillion (1953) and The Nonesuch (1962) contain strong echoes of Mansfield Park (1814), with their stories of women forced into dependency and reliance on the goodwill of wealthier family members or, in the case of Ancilla Trent in the latter book, the generosity of her employer. Like Austen’s Fanny Price, Kitty and Ancilla are moral women each endowed with a naïveté that helps to drive the plot and ensures their eventual happy ending.
Another Heyer novel with hints of Mansfield Park is The Quiet Gentleman (1951). Here the Dowager St Erth reminds the reader of Mrs Norris (and also of Lady Catherine de Bourgh), while Drusilla has the same kind of moral courage as Fanny. Her resolve and her love of the hero is also equally unshakable.
CONCLUSION: If you love Mansfield Park, read The Quiet Gentleman.
Which is your favourite Austen novel? Did you know there is a Georgette Heyer novel to match it in mood and spirit? Tune in tomorrow for the next post in this new series by famed literary scholar Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and the forthcoming masterwork Jane Austen’s Ghost.