"Greeley’s storytelling is intricate, masterly, and delightfully imaginative. Highly recommended."—Library Journal (starred review)
In this gorgeously written and spellbinding historical novel based on Pride and Prejudice, the author of The Clergyman’s Wife combines the knowing eye of Jane Austen with the eroticism and Gothic intrigue of Sarah Waters to reimagine the life of the mysterious Anne de Bourgh.
As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh was prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.
After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?
In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.
An extraordinary tale of one woman’s liberation, The Heiress reveals both the darkness and light in Austen’s world, with wit, sensuality, and a deeply compassionate understanding of the human heart.
Greeley (The Clergyman's Wife) delivers an immersive queer reimagining of Pride and Prejudice character Anne de Bourgh. Anne is born into wealth as the heiress to Rosings Park in Kent, England, and the daughter of Lady Catherine and Sir Lewis de Bourgh. Anne, now in her 30s, has been prescribed laudanum since she was an infant, then for being "fussy" and now for being "delicate," and though she expects to marry her cousin Fitzwilliam, he weds Elizabeth Bennet. While Catherine is away from Rosings Park, Anne stops taking her laudanum and travels to London, where she becomes acquainted with Eliza Amherst, a friend of her cousin's wife, and their friendship evolves into a secret romance. Though Anne hopes Eliza will consider returning to Rosings Park as her companion, Eliza reluctantly understands the societal obligation for her to marry an eligible man, and Anne reckons with fulfilling her obligations as heiress to the estate. Greeley's expert imaginings of the life of Anne de Bourgh reveal the hidden depths of her character and highlight the societal restrictions of 19th-century women as Anne seeks to overcome her mother's domineering persona and find happiness. Historical fiction fans will be drawn to Anne's plight.