By Rachel Billington
‘The wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union’ …
So ends Emma, one of Jane Austen’s most loved novels. For centuries readers have devoured the romantic adventures of Emma Woodhouse and her circle in Hertfordshire, and Emma herself is one of Austen’s most complex heroines. The conclusion of her story sees her wed neighbour and family friend George Knightley, a marriage that looks to be blessed in every possible way.
Perfect Happiness finds Emma one year later, still living at her family home in order to care for her father, the hypochondriac Mr Woodhouse. Her husband has left his own estate in order to live with her there – a move that is the cause of some conflict. Her protegee Harriet is happily married to her husband’s tenant farmer, the estimable Robert Martin, in a union that does indeed appear to be perfect – and throws a shadow of doubt across Emma’s own marriage. Their social circle is unchanged – the Westons, the Eltons, the Bates ladies – and all is tranquil. That is, until the reappearance of Frank Churchill, who had flirted with Emma while conducting a secret engagement with the Bates’ niece, beautiful and good Jane Fairfax.
When tragedy falls into this narrow, comfortable world Emma must deal with the fallout – and, two decades younger than her husband, learn to gain his trust as a woman and not just a charming young girl. In this captivating sequel to one of our most famous novels Rachel Billington absolutely grasps the characters that Austen created, and imagines their future. This is a novel to delight Austen’s legions of fans across the globe, and a brilliant recreation of Emma’s world.