It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly worl...moreIt is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.
Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It started off ok-ish, with someone who clearly knows her Pride and Prejudice and tries to set this off as a sequel. It's not long however before there are differences. Colonel Fitzwilliam has changed character - something that James clearly has twigged and tries to explain away with the death of older brothers and forcing Fitzwilliam into the inheriting his father's title and responsibilities.
Darcy becomes the primary character of the book, and many of the sillier characters of the original - Mrs Bennet and Mr Collins - are resigned to virtual non existence. I dont know if this is because James could not find a way of introducing them into the story or if she was not up to writing so stupid a set of characters. Likewise Lydia - despite being married to one of the main characters in the book - hardly says a word and is rapidly dispatched away from Pemberley as quickly as the story allows.
The story quickly becomes a standard P. D. James "whodunnit" and could have been fitted into almost any set of character names. It didnt need to be a "P&P sequel" at all.
Where there was dialogue I found little of it to be light, witty and flirtatious, and some of it to be long and boring - especially at the end when there is a rehash of the Darcy and Elizabeth "when we fell in love" discussion which was done so much better, lighter and shorter by Austen. (less)
Obtained free as part of the Feb 2012 LibraryThing Early Reviewers batch. Offered by Book View Cafe to mark the books' publication as an ebook. (I too...moreObtained free as part of the Feb 2012 LibraryThing Early Reviewers batch. Offered by Book View Cafe to mark the books' publication as an ebook. (I took in epub format and read on my kobo).
Only 20 and already widowed, Lady Jane is invited to spend the winter with her late husband's family. There she is reintroduced to Lord Menwin, a man she was in love with before her marriage. After a few embarrassing meetings, where he is decidedly off hand and insulting to her, they realise it was all a misunderstanding, and decide that they are in love really. Unfortunately Menwin has not only inherited his father's title, but also his debts, and the only way for his grandfather to agree to dig him out is for Menwin to marry and produce an heir. The rest of the book is an attempt to get Menwin out of the disastrous engagement he's found himself in.
Not quite Jane Austen, this tries valiantly enough. The first pages try to overload you with too much information (a habit I hate, and I groaned when I read it), but it got better quickly. Lively, light, using some phrases I'm not entirely convinced were in use during the Regency period and some that were, overall an enjoyable book for a damp spring weekend
**spoiler alert** It was going so well - and then turned into this overcomplicated mess where she's having a sexual relationship with a bloke who coul...more**spoiler alert** It was going so well - and then turned into this overcomplicated mess where she's having a sexual relationship with a bloke who could have been her dad, but isnt because her parents are really her mother's twin sister and her real dad is trying to kill her, not realising he married Eve, thinking she was Elizabeth.
Would have been much better if it had been a ghost story, where everyone was reincarnated but kept being pulled back into meeting up in each generation until the karmic link is broken (I think there was an episode of Buffy that did this better)
Anyway good whilst it lasted, but not all the way(less)
For starters, Harry Flashman is expelled from school as a drunken bully. After seducing his father's mistress, he begins a secret life that leads from...moreFor starters, Harry Flashman is expelled from school as a drunken bully. After seducing his father's mistress, he begins a secret life that leads from the boudoirs and bordellos of Victorian England to the erotic frontiers of her exotic Empire. Along the way he lies, cheats, steals, fights fixed duels, betrays his country and proves a coward on the battlefield.
Let's face it: Flashman is not really a nice guy. He's a bully, a coward, a rapist, a racist and a drunk. His survival instinct means that he manages to get out of scrapes that can (and does) kill everyone around him. People around him mistake his cowardice, and resulting survival against all odds, as some form of heroism.
Kicked out of Rugby, and having been blackmailed from one regiment to the next after marrying one of his conquests, he ends up in Afghanistan in the late 19th century - at a time when the British are to make one of their more ignoble retreats back to India. Whole regiments are slaugtered around Flashman, due in no small part to the incompitence of the officers around him. [written in 1969, decades before 9/11, this is a fictional illustration of why the West will never win in Afghanistan and would be lucky to come out with a draw].
Did get a bit bored with the tediously long chapters and the constant battles, so not sure I'd like to read a sequel.(less)
Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Chan...moreSummer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to become a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Events will converge on board one of the King's great warships, primed for battle in Portsmouth harbour: the Mary Rose..
Shardlake has two main causes to follow in this book: the current Queen Catherine Parr (latest wife of Henry VIII) has asked him to investigate that the wardship of two orphans, one of whom has subsequently died. On his way down to the Solent, he also decides to investigate the case of one now agraphobic woman who has been "living" in Bedlam for 19 years despite having no commitment papers.
As his investigations continue it appears the two cases are linked. Waters are muddied by lies, murders, threats and the wider case of Henry VIII preparing for war with the French - again.
The descriptions of the practicalities of war are good - the dirt, the poor food, the fleas, the desertions, the ships gathering in the Solent.
I did find that the secondary story line of the Bedlam investigation was a little forced in order to bring the main story to a head.
I have read the Shardlake books as they've come out, which has meant that in some cases there's been a big gap between stories, leading me to forget much of what has gone on before. There's a couple of (to be honest) unsubtle references to what has happened before, and some of the characters have been met before with a long term grievence between them and Shardlake.(less)
Set in the mid-14th century, this is of an isolated village in England, where the old religion hasnt quite been usurped by Christianity. The obligator...moreSet in the mid-14th century, this is of an isolated village in England, where the old religion hasnt quite been usurped by Christianity. The obligatory witch lives on the edge of town, the gargoyles on the church are still a little too paganistic for some and the "outlanders" are still to be suspected.
These outlanders include the Squire and his family, who is still despised after generations living there.
The Beguines - a group of women who are near nun-like in their vows to the Church, but work in the community - are also outsiders, and are to be suspected even more when their crops dont fail and their livestock dont succumb to a local disease.
The priest has been sent down from Norwich to serve penance for doing more than breaking his vow of chastity.
Told in various different voices this is a page turning read and only took a few days to finish. There were a couple of characters who you did wonder what they were there for apart from showing what life was like back then (e.g. the leper, the two children who lost their mother in a flood). I also thought that the battling against the owl master by the Servant Martha at the end was just a little too.....simple? easy? I dont know...(less)
It took me a while to get into the writing style - it is where one sister (Alice) writes letters to her sister Lizzie. Some of it is a little forced (...moreIt took me a while to get into the writing style - it is where one sister (Alice) writes letters to her sister Lizzie. Some of it is a little forced (reminding her sister as to how many brothers they've got for instance) in order to get the back story in, but it's minor and soon got over.
The letters are one sided (you never get to read the replies) and tells of two years on a farm with Alice, her mother in law and various waifs and strays, all whilst Charlie is off fighting in the Civil war.
Alice tries to bear the unwanted attention of a local womaniser, but never contemplated that she would be accused when he turned up dead on their land. There are also diversion in some of the other women in the town (you hear little of the men).
Once I got past the slightly unusual format, I enjoyed reading this book!(less)
The unnamed narrator of this story is a drug addicted drunk pornstar who drives off the side of a road when distracted by what he thinks is a barrage...moreThe unnamed narrator of this story is a drug addicted drunk pornstar who drives off the side of a road when distracted by what he thinks is a barrage of arrows coming from the side of the road. He suffers horrendous burns and ends up being treated in a burns unit. He starts receiving visits from an apparently schizophrenic/manic depressive woman, who insists that they have met before - the first time 700 years previously. [return][return]Over the next year and more, she tells him stories of their previous lives. Meanwhile Marianne continues to make her Grotesques (or Gargoyles) in the basement of her castle-style house. When he leaves hospital he moves in with Marianne and the relationship begins to change - the selfish drunk begins to look after Marianne who becomes more manic in making her statues. Finally it comes to an end, and the narrator has to make a decision.[return][return]The book is very descriptive - the previous lives, the food that they eat (Marianne is very generous, and cooks banquets fo food from around the world), the description of the journey into Hell.[return][return]The book is certainly different - whose reality is correct after all? Does thinking and believing different make you insane? Can you really love someone who is not the norm?(less)
Tracy Chevalier's tale of artistic creation and late-medieval amours, The Lady and the Unicorn is a subtle study in social power and the conflicts bet...moreTracy Chevalier's tale of artistic creation and late-medieval amours, The Lady and the Unicorn is a subtle study in social power and the conflicts between love and duty. Nicolas des Innocents has been commissioned by the Parisian nobleman Jean Le Viste to design a series of large tapestries for his great hall (in real life, the famous Lady and the Unicorn cycle, now in Paris's Musee National du Moyen-Age Thermes de Cluny). While Nicolas is measuring the walls, he meets a beautiful girl who turns out to be Jean Le Viste's daughter. Their passion is impossible for their world--so forbidden, given their class differences, that its only avenue of expression turns out to be those magnificent tapestries. The historical evidence on which this story is based is slight enough to allow the full play of Chevalier's imagination in this cleverly woven tale. (less)
second of her books that I have now read - realised in once she started describing the tiger hunt and I thought "I've read this scene before......." (...moresecond of her books that I have now read - realised in once she started describing the tiger hunt and I thought "I've read this scene before......." (In "Ragtime in Simla"). Not exactly the same, and I suppose that many of the tiger hunts in upper class Raj era India were all much the same, so poor comparisons cannot be necessarily drawn. It would be interesting to know if she presents a variation of this set piece in any of her other books where by I would then think she was being a little lazy or uninspired.[return][return]Anyway, the book itself is enjoyable as Commander Joe from Scotland Yard, having remained in India for longer than his planned 6 months, is sent out to investigate the deaths of two of the three sons of the Maharajah, who himself is dying and therefore his succession is in doubt. Some of the characters are lightly drawn, and tend to make short appearances, only to disappear again, making for quite a lightweight set of potential suspects when it comes to a head.(less)
Simla 1922. While the rest of India bakes in the hot season, up in the pine-scented coolness of the Himalayan hills the English have recreated a visio...moreSimla 1922. While the rest of India bakes in the hot season, up in the pine-scented coolness of the Himalayan hills the English have recreated a vision of home. Here are half-timbered houses, amateur theatricals, gymkhanas and a glittering vice-regal court for the socialites. The summer capital of the British Raj is fizzing with the energy of the jazz age. It is toward this country that detective Joe Sandilands is heading as the guest of the governor of Bengal. But when Joe's travelling companion, a Russian opera singer, is shot dead at his side on the road to Simla, he finds himself plunged into a murder investigation. As Joe begins to unravel the mystery which has its roots in the aftermath of the First World War, he discovers that behind the sparkling facade of Simla lies a trail of murder, vice and blackmail.
Commander Joe Sandilands is looking forward to spending a month in Simla, the summer capital of the British Raj. But behind the sparkling facade of social life in Simla he finds a trail of murder, vice and blackmail.
Enjoyable little effort, one of a series it appears judging by the back page. Just out of the first world war and a visit to Simla, and there's investigations into the murder of a newly arrived international singing star.(less)
Enjoyable story, not only about the building of the new Niagra falls power station, the racism and sexism dealt towards people, but also a detective s...moreEnjoyable story, not only about the building of the new Niagra falls power station, the racism and sexism dealt towards people, but also a detective story surrounding the deaths of several of those involved in the power station(less)
First Heyer book that I've read so dont whether this is a good or average example of her work.
Found the first chapter or so difficult to get into as...moreFirst Heyer book that I've read so dont whether this is a good or average example of her work.
Found the first chapter or so difficult to get into as I'm not used to her writing style.
There was a point partway through where I saw similarities with Pride and Prejudice (the two main characters initially hate each other, she turns down his initial marriage proposal and there is a crises that brings them back together). Cousin Maria is Mr Collins reincarnated.
So, found the book mildly derivitive yet mildly amusing. Wasnt gripping and I did glaze over, especially when Cousin Maria went off on one of her speeches (yes I know that was kind of the point, but.....).(less)
The (softback) edition I have comes in at just over 1000 pages, and this is one of the reasons that it has been sitting on my bookshelf for a number o...moreThe (softback) edition I have comes in at just over 1000 pages, and this is one of the reasons that it has been sitting on my bookshelf for a number of years now, occasionally glaring at me and daring me to pick it up and read it.[return][return]I am glad that I have read it, and it is not like any book I have read before. Excellent for a first book, there is humour, romance, history (some of which I hope is made up!), and most importantly of all magic, and lots of it. The footnotes are as important as the main text, and all shows an attention to detail that I dont know if the author will ever achieve again, purely for the amount of time this book must have already taken from her.[return][return]The only book I can realistically compare it to (in terms of length, scope etc) is "The Crimson Petal and the White", which I think is another debut novel. Have to admit that whilst I thought "Crimson" finished too soon, in a way I was glad that "Jonathan" did, although I was satisfied with the openness of the ending and the potential of more.(less)