Loved it!Louisa and Valentine Carnell are finally free after their overbearing, dictatorial father dies. Determined to explore their new found freedom and never be beholden to anyone's influence ever again (EVER), the plucky brother and sister befriend their estranged cousins and travel to London. Troubles ensue.
Valentine becomes gallantly enamored with the beautiful and tragic Lady Harriet, who has been abused (in the regency sense of the word) by her dreadful husband, a wastrel who drinks and spends money. Poor Lady Harriet is reduced to operating a gambling house to make ends meet.
Louisa spurns Pearce Lynley, her father's choice for her hand in marriage, because she finds him horrible and cold and just a little too fond of her dead father for her liking. Once in London, Louisa is intrigued by Pearce's brother, Francis, the black sheep of the Lynley family. I don't want to give away spoilers because I would definitely reread.
I loved Louisa, though I occasionally found her frustrating. She is good-hearted, caring, and intelligent; she's less rash and more sensible than Valentine, and she is fiercely loyal to her brother, even when she herself believes him to be wrong or misguided. Admirable, yes - but on occasion, I wanted her to slap some sense into him. Further, both Louisa and Valentine are tediously sensitive to any hint
of influence or suggestion. I understand Louisa and Valentine shied away from any attempt to exert control/influence because of their awful father, but even someone giving friendly advice with the best intentions is accused of trying to CONTROL THEIR LIVES. There were many eye rolls.
Now let's compare Jane and Jude:
Louisa develops more than a passing interest in Francis Lynley, despite warnings from Pearce Lynley that she shouldn't get too attached. However, because Louisa HATES being told what to do in any way, shape, or form, she concludes that Pearce is a bossy jerk who refuses to give his poor brother a chance; furthermore, it is clear that Louisa, a relative stranger to Francis, knows his true self and heart better than his brother EVER could. Sigh. This obviously is reminiscent of the Elizabeth / Mr. Darcy / Wickham triangle.
Even MORE so when Francis absconds with Lydia, I mean Sophie to be married in secret. Louisa is shocked and embarrassed - not only was she under the impression that Francis sort of maybe had feelings for her, but she discovers evidence that he is a cad of the first order and that she has been wrong about him AND Pearce all along. Cue Elizabeth style epiphany that she's been blind and vanity has been her downfall, etc.
Mr. Tresilian is an older, wiser family friend who cares very much for Louisa and Valentine and is frequently the voice of reason. He's basically the love child of George Knightley and Henry Tilney. BOTH OF WHOM I LOVE; ergo, I loved Mr. Tresilian.
Louisa and Valentine's father is bossy and controlling, seeking to direct his children's lives, without any consideration as to their wishes or feelings. Definitely General Tilney.
Valentine unadvisedly becomes entangled in a romance (of a sort) with the married Lady Harriet Eversholt. Like Marianne, he completely disregards social conventions in his interactions with Lady Harriet, leading to spurious gossip and rumors (that ultimately prove to be his undoing) and then becomes dumbfounded when the lady betrays him. I did hope that Kate Tresilian would be his Colonel Brandon, but I guess we'll never know.
So I've got Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Emma (sort of - not really). I guess I am missing Mansfield Park and Persuasion (my most favorite of Austens).