The Late Mrs. Willoughby by Claudia Gray @claudiagray @vintageanchorbooks @Austenprose @sophiarose1816

Posted May 24, 2023 by Sophia in Book Review / 16 Comments

The Late Mrs. Willoughby by Claudia Gray

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Late Mrs. Willoughby by Claudia Gray @claudiagray @vintageanchorbooks @Austenprose  @sophiarose1816The Late Mrs. Willoughby by Claudia Gray
Series: Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney #2
on May 16, 2023
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Catherine and Henry Tilney of Northanger Abbey are not entirely pleased to be sending their eligible young daughter Juliet out into the world again: the last house party she attended, at the home of the Knightleys, involved a murder—which Juliet helped solve. Particularly concerning is that she intends to visit her new friend Marianne Brandon, who's returned home to Devonshire shrouded in fresh scandal—made more potent by the news that her former suitor, the rakish Mr. Willoughby, intends to take up residence at his local estate with his new bride.

Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley are thrilled that their eldest son, Jonathan—who, like his father, has not always been the most socially adept—has been invited to stay with his former schoolmate, John Willoughby. Jonathan himself is decidedly less taken with the notion of having to spend extended time under the roof of his old bully, but that all changes when he finds himself reunited with his fellow amateur sleuth, the radiant Miss Tilney. And when shortly thereafter, Willoughby's new wife—whom he married for her fortune—dies horribly at the party meant to welcome her to town.

With rumors flying and Marianne—known to be both unstable and previously jilted by the dead woman's newly made widower—under increased suspicion, Jonathan and Juliet must team up once more to uncover the murderer. But as they collect clues and close in on suspects, eerie incidents suggest that the killer may strike again, and that the pair are in far graver danger than they or their families could imagine.

Part historical mystery and part sequel, The Late Mrs. Willoughby will have vast appeal to mystery and Jane Austen fans alike.  After the stupendous debut in the series set against the backdrop of Jane Austen’s world and featuring a younger generation of amateur sleuths, there was no doubt I was going to be coming along when Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney accept invitations to join friends in the Devon countryside.

As the second book in a series, The Late Mrs. Willoughby offers a standalone murder mystery, but the primary characters and some of the secondary ones are better understood if readers approach the series in order.

Claudia Gray has chosen to set her historical mystery series in Jane Austen’s world, but focusing on the next generation for her main characters who are sleuthing partners.  Jonathan Darcy is the clever yet awkward and neuro-diverse son of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy of Pride & Prejudice fame while Juliet Tilney is the intrepid daughter of Henry and Catherine Tilney from Austen’s Northanger Abbey.  They became friends over their first case that involved many of Austen’s primary couples and now they are brought together once again to solve yet another murder that the local constabulary and neighborhood is pinning on their friend, Mrs. Marianne Brandon.

The author gives careful attention to historical backdrop and setting.  She endeavors to be faithful to Austen’s world and characters while still focusing on a murder mystery with plenty of suspects, motives, twists and turns.  Those readers who prefer very little modern anachronisms peeping in and want to see crime solving done with what was known at the time and within the boundaries of social and legal rules will not be disappointed.  And, while I had my suspicions about who was behind it all, I discovered some surprise twists that had me changing my mind a few times.

During the murder mystery, there is also the sequel aspect.  The reader who is familiar with the events of Austen’s Sense & Sensibility will recognize the surrounding characters to Jonathan & Juliet as well as their ongoing storylines.  But, this need not cause readers unfamiliar with that story to balk because there is enough filled in for anyone to grasp what led to where things are now.

I delighted to see Jonathan & Juliet back together and working the case while tentatively exploring their friendship that could be something more.  Jonathan’s nature makes it hard for him- he doesn’t catch many social or emotional clues, he struggles being touched, having sensory overloads, and sees this as a deterrent to any deeper relationships.  He was bullied and torments for his differences and by the very people he is staying with and one is even showing interest in Juliet so he is confused while she, too, must sort out if Jonathan only wants friendship and should she turn her attention to other eligible men.

All in all, this second entry in the series was as good, if not better to me, than the first and I can’t wait to see what comes with the third installment.  Readers should get in on this series to appreciate these amateur Regency era sleuths for themselves.


About Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost Stars and Bloodline, and Jane Austen-inspired series, A Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney Mysteries. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and assorted small dogs. 

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Posted May 24, 2023 by Sophia in Book Review / 16 Comments

16 responses to “The Late Mrs. Willoughby by Claudia Gray

  1. Another fun one to add to my TBR list. I love that the author is writing about the second generation of Austen characters. Such a clever idea.

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  2. Oh yes please! I love that this isn’t just a Pride and Prejudice tie in but so many Austen books as well. Adding this to my TBR (and need to do an Austen reread as well!).