(Note: Potential readers should be made aware that this is the second volume in the Darcy’s Tale series, and that it will be necessary to read Volume...more(Note: Potential readers should be made aware that this is the second volume in the Darcy’s Tale series, and that it will be necessary to read Volume I prior to reading this one.)
For those of you who are not yet familiar with this series, Darcy's Tale is a trilogy that retells the story of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's perspective. Volume II picks up with Darcy arriving in London and undertaking the difficult tasks of persuading Mr. Bingley of Jane Bennet's disinterest, as well as commanding his own heart and mind to dwell on other things than Elizabeth Bennet! Similar to his first novel in this series, Stanley Hurd takes us into Darcy's head, exposes his reflections, and shares his inner thoughts.
As with Darcy's Tale, Volume I: Into Hertfordshire, what I loved most about reading this novel was the sense of truly being inside Darcy's head! So much is explained, so much is understood... The scenes where Stanley Hurd truly shines in this novel are where he illustrates how Darcy misinterprets Elizabeth. I've always wondered how Darcy could be so convinced that Elizabeth was anticipating and welcoming his proposal when she is barely civil to him. Was it arrogance and conceit? Mr. Hurd does a remarkable job of showing how Darcy misunderstood all Elizabeth's smiles and blushes, how he thought their discussions had subtextual implications, how he read too much into her open conversation and candor. (Yes, Darcy dear, it does seem that Elizabeth reserves her playful teasing for you alone...but it's not what you think!)
I cannot help but find Mr. Hurd's Darcy to be everything that is admirable and adorable! He is essentially the honorable and loyal hero we know and love at the end of Pride and Prejudice, but instead of being arrogant and officious, he is portrayed as reserved and a little lacking in social graces. When it comes to women, especially, we see how Darcy is inexperienced and awkward. Why does he not engage Elizabeth more in conversation? Does he see through Caroline's machinations? Why did he propose so badly? Even though Darcy has spent nine seasons in London society, he hasn't learned enough to keep him out of trouble...
I greatly enjoyed the continuation of Darcy's intensive retrospection in this novel. He is in pursuit of logic and truth, and steadfastly tries to align the desires of his heart with his sense of duty and obligation. I loved seeing Darcy question society's rules and practices, and I enjoyed watching him go to Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam, his uncle, and even a former tutor to debate and question matters of the heart, matrimony, and society. He is a man desperately seeking some enlightenment!
Before I close, I must add how exquisitely poignant it was to see the proposal, letter, and aftermath from Darcy's perspective! What a powerful and palpable impression of heartache and anguish! Beautifully and evocatively rendered, Mr. Hurd! Well done! I'm all anticipation for Darcy's Tale, Volume III: The Way Home!
Oh, be still my heart – it is a novel about Colonel Fitzwilliam! (Squeee!) Of course the dashing and charming colonel has been the subject of many an...moreOh, be still my heart – it is a novel about Colonel Fitzwilliam! (Squeee!) Of course the dashing and charming colonel has been the subject of many an Austenesque work, but in this novel…he is explored, developed, and featured in ways like never before. If you are intrigued to learn more about this easy-going and amiable man and observe his journey through trials and personal growth, then read on!
This novel begins several years before the opening of Pride and Prejudice, where we learn that Colonel Fitzwilliam and Charlotte Lucas were summertime playmates and each others’ first loves. But due to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s need to marry a woman with a sizable dowry, he pushes Charlotte away. After severing their ties, Colonel Fitzwilliam keeps his distance from Charlotte; and Charlotte, because she doesn’t want to end up a spinster, finagles a proposal out of witless Mr. Collins two years later. What happens when they meet again at Rosings? What kind of tumultuous journey does life take them on? Will there ever be an end to their forced separation and unhappiness? (Well, we can guess the answer to that last one, but my goodness, is the outlook bleak!)
Our dear Colonel Fitzwilliam is not in a good place. After receiving severe injuries in battle, the colonel has a lot of time reflect and evaluate his life while convalescing for several months in London. Broody Fitzwilliam is dejected and defeated by his life: After more than of a decade of serving in the army he has nothing to show for it except battle scars and disfigurement. After spending his whole life strictly adhering to his father’s wishes and demands, Fitzwilliam has yet to earn the man’s approval and receives nothing but reprimands from him. And if that it isn’t enough, he is frustrated by the fact that he doesn’t have a residence of his own, the means to purchase one, or the freedom to marry whomever he wants. (Isn’t life just peachy?!?)
There was so much I loved and admired about this book, it is hard to decide what I enjoyed most! I loved the author’s introspective and plausible approach to these characters, Ginger Monette perceptively expands these characters and creates a history between them that is believable and gratifying. I greatly enjoyed the storyline and development of Anne de Bourgh – for once, she becomes an inspiring and engaging character! I admired how Colonel Fiztwilliam and other characters found solace through music and enjoying nature. I thought it interesting that Charlotte had a talent for herbal remedies and Colonel Fitzwilliam had a growing interest in managing estates. And lastly, I found the integration of faith and religion to be very well-balanced in this novel. It wasn’t preachy or heavy with religious undertones, it instead stressed the importance of forgiveness, patience, and having a relationship with God. It was inspiring to see Colonel Fitzwilliam (and then later on Charlotte) find peace with their lives and think philosophically about the trials they are put through.
Tree of Life – Charlotte and The Colonel is an emotional and thoughtful companion novel to Pride and Prejudice. I loved the depth and development given to Charlotte, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Anne de Bourgh, and I admired their growth and strength through countless obstacles. Beautiful, romantic, and fulfilling – I highly recommend!(less)
In Lory Lilian’s third and much anticipated Pride and Prejudice tale she explores what would happen if characters like Mrs. Gardiner and Lord Matlock...moreIn Lory Lilian’s third and much anticipated Pride and Prejudice tale she explores what would happen if characters like Mrs. Gardiner and Lord Matlock were more involved in the lives of their respective neice and nephew. She asks several what if questions: What if Mr. Gardiner passed away two years ago leaving Mrs. Gardiner a young, wealthy mother of two children? What if Mrs. Gardiner invited not only Jane, but Elizabeth to spend some time with her in Cheapside after the Netherfield Ball? What if Mrs. Gardiner and Lord Matlock were dear old friends and as a result the Bennet sisters spent a lot of time in his company?
Oh, how I ADORED Lord Matlock! Brava, Lory Lilian! Brava! Original characters that are delightfully eccentric, precocious, and overflowing with personality seem to be a staple in Lory Lilian’s novels. Similar to the unforgettable and vibrant characters Georgette Heyer creates, Lory Lilian has fashioned some very memorable and lovable creations of her own – sweet little Becky Gardiner from Rainy Days, daring and charismatic Lady Cassandra from Remembrance of the Past, and now we get to meet outspoken, mischievous, and impertinent Lord Matlock in His Uncle’s Favorite!
And yet…Lord Matlock isn’t the only original character introduced to us! (Oh happy day!) We also meet Lord Matlock’s daughter Lady Selina, who clearly has inherited her father’s forthright manner, Lady Brightmore, Lady Selina’s mother-in-law who is known to possess peculiar notions, and Lady Sinclair, who, even after marrying a man with wealth and title is still trying to catch Darcy in her traps! One my favorite aspects of this novel was seeing these new creations interact with Jane Austen’s beloved characters. I loved it when Lord Matlock teased Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley about the Bennet sisters, when Lady Brightmore issued thinly-veiled insults to Caroline Bingley, and when Elizabeth deftly redirected Lady Sinclair’s barbs!
Another area where Ms. Lilian’s talent truly shines is illustrating the ardent love and tender attachment between Elizabeth and Darcy. Darcy’s struggle and perseverance and Elizabeth’s discovery and growing affection were beautifully and exquisitely rendered. I loved Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s sweet moments together – on a horse-drawn sleigh in the snow, on Darcy’s horse Thunder, and on their private walks. (Note: in the last forty pages or so the embraces between Darcy and Elizabeth become a good deal more intimate and amorous and for that reason I’d recommend this novel for Mature Audiences only.)
As can be expected, Wickham comes onto the scene at the most inconvenient time to wreck havoc. But in this variation, things looked like they may take a different course…(Yes! Some new developments of Wickham’s character!) [POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD] I loved learning more about Wickham’s past relationship with Lord Matlock; it plausibly explained why Wickham was weak, why he had a sense of entitlement, and why he was so obsessed with the Darcy family. I was thrilled to see Lord Matlock become involved and I loved seeing Wickham finally receive the dressing down he deserves! (Go Lord Matlock!) However, I was disappointed that this change in course didn’t last…Not more than a few hours after having his demands denied and told he will receive no help from anyone (Yes! Good! Take that, Wickham!) Wickham is informed that his debts will be paid, a new commission bought, and a special license purchased so he can marry Lydia. (Gahhh!!)
Any disappointment I felt about Wickham’s fate was far exceeded by my delight in Lord Matlock and his fate! He almost stole the show away from Darcy and Elizabeth! Well done, Lory Lilian!(less)
TYPE OF NOVEL: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
SETTING: 1815, Beaworthy, Devonshire, England
MAIN CHARACTERS: Julia Midwinter (wealthy and beautifu...moreTYPE OF NOVEL: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
SETTING: 1815, Beaworthy, Devonshire, England
MAIN CHARACTERS: Julia Midwinter (wealthy and beautiful heiress), Alec Valcourt (a fencing and dancing master from London), Lady Amelia Midwinter (Julia's strict mother who dislikes dancing), John Desmond (a mysterious man who seems to have had quite a scandalous past in Beaworthy)
SYNOPSIS: For the last twenty years the citizens of Beaworthy have not engaged in dancing, assemblies, or balls. Due to a scandal, duel, and death of her brother, Lady Amelia has forbidden the pastime and the good people of Beaworthy have abided by her wishes. However, when Alec Valcourt, a dancing and fencing master from London, arrives on the scene, he begins to question this ban on dancing...
WHAT I LOVED: - Unravelling Everyone's Past: As always with Julie Klassen's novels there is an air of mystery, intrigue, and undivulged secrets. Oh, how I loved being in the dark and trying to figure everything out on my own! In this novel, it seemed as if everyone had a secret in their past, and Julie Klassen revealed them at quite a deliciously slow pace. Why does Lady Amelia dislike dancing so much? Why did Julia's father treat her with such disdain? Why did Alec and his family have to leave London? Not knowing all was an exquisitely delightful torture!
- Endearing and Admirable Characters: Some characters in this tale definitely found their way into my heart! Ms. Klassen's characters are well-drawn, complex, and engaging. Alec was an admirable and honorable hero; I enjoyed how he resisted Julia's flirtations and forwardness. In addition, I think my favorite character in this novel was John Desmond – misunderstood, maligned, and mysterious – I just adored him! (And in my head I kept picturing him looking like Viggo Mortensen. *sigh*) In addition, the villagers of Beaworthy – like Mrs. Tickle with her cakes and pies and loyal Mr. Barlow with his tender heart.
- Historical Tidbits and Depictions: Apothecaries, tutors, dancing masters - Julie Klassen's novels have taught me a lot about different middle class professions. I took pleasure in learning what the average day of a dancing/fencing master in 1815 would be like, how he would advertise and promote himself, and the various types of classes and lessons he might offer. How I wish we still lived in a time of country dances, assemblies, and dancing masters!
WHAT I AM FEELING AMBIVALENT ABOUT: - Julia Midwinter, a.k.a. The Heroine: I most certainly don't mind a flawed heroine - I like it when characters have lessons to learn or obstacles to overcome. Julia is reckless, inappropriate flirtatious, and has a propensity of thinking a little too much of herself. But the fact that she never felt love or kindness from her father and receives only rules and restrictions from her mother engaged my compassion and helped me understand her desperate need for attention and male admiration. I was pleased to see Julia grow into a more admirable person, but with her earlier vanity and coquetry, I couldn't help but be reminded of Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey!
WHAT I WASN'T TOO FOND OF: - Not Enough Resolution: For me, the story ended a little unsatisfying. There was a little too much summarization and tying up loose ends in the epilogue and not enough events and conversations happening on the page. I am glad to know the fate of these characters and to see a glimpse of their futures, but I feel shortchanged at not being there to hear the declarations and see the developments myself.
CONCLUSION: What a delight it is to read another novel by Julie Klassen! I loved learning more about the Regency Era and the lives of middle class workers as well as the landed gentry. While not my favorite novel by Ms. Klassen (current favorite: The Silent Governess), I still greatly enjoyed my sojourn to Beaworthy and unravelling all the secrets and scandals of the past there!(less)
I must begin by expressing my gratitude to Kaitlin Saunders for penning modern adaptations to some of Jane Austen’s other novels!!! Don’t get me wrong...moreI must begin by expressing my gratitude to Kaitlin Saunders for penning modern adaptations to some of Jane Austen’s other novels!!! Don’t get me wrong, I love Pride and Prejudice, it is probably one of top five favorite reads, but I also adore and cherish Jane Austen’s other novels! I love traveling to Highbury and dropping in on Mr. Woodhouse, spending some time with “clever, well-informed people” like Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood, and going on gothic adventures with Catherine Morland! I’m so glad Kaitlin Saunders has published modern adaptations for both Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion!
In this adaptation of Persuasion, twenty-five year old Anne Elliot creates and designs greeting cards; an occupation that fulfills her creatively and artistically, but doesn’t quite enable her to move out and live independently. More than seven years have passed since she turned down Rick Wentworth – his love, his offer of marriage, his unplanned adventure of a life together – Anne still wonders if she made the right choice. Was what they felt for each other really love? Would she have been happier if she married him?
When Rick Wentworth – who is now a celebrated and wealthy author – comes back into Anne’s life, Anne holds onto the ridiculous hope that what she shared with Rick was real, and that his promises to love her forever were unbroken. But after witnessing his cold and resentful demeanor towards herself and his flirtatious and affable manner towards Louise Musgrove, Anne realizes that his feelings had indeed changed and that it is long past time for her to move on. Easier said than done...
My favorite aspect of this book was seeing Anne’s private thoughts and feelings. Since the story is from Anne’s perspective, the reader experiences what she does. We feel Anne’s pain with every uncomfortable exchange with Rick. We feel Anne’s heartache with every bit of interest and attention paid to Louise. I enjoyed this empathetic and sensitive portrayal of Anne Elliot, it deftly illustrates the inner turmoil and anguish Anne experiences throughout the story.
I also enjoyed witnessing the relationship between Anne and Carol Russell. (Confession: I’m usually not a Lady Russell fan.) I find her overly concerned with status and wealth, high-handed, and self-serving. But in this adaptation though, Ms. Saunders portrays her more as a surrogate mother who strives to see Anne happy and safe. She may, at first, have the wrong idea about what would make Anne happy, but her heart is truly in the right place. Similar to the lovely mother-daughter relationships in A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility, this relationship gave me some warm fuzzies. :)
One aspect of the story I would have loved to have seen explored more is Rick’s novels. After finding out that Rick is a famous novelist, Anne rushes out to a book store to purchase his three published releases, but…we don’t know if she ever reads them! I was dying to see some excerpts from Rick’s novels after hearing that one of the stories bared a strong resemblance to his relationship with Anne. I would have loved to seen how Rick resolved his characters’ conflicts in the story, perhaps it would have revealed his true feelings for Anne…
Similar to A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility, this update closely mirrors Jane Austen’s original work. I may, at times, have wished for more deviation or exploration, but overall I found myself quite charmed and engaged by this faithful rendition.(less)
Following her 2011 release of A Modern Day Persuasion, author Kaitlin Saunders once again picks up her pen to modernize one of Jane Austen’s beloved n...moreFollowing her 2011 release of A Modern Day Persuasion, author Kaitlin Saunders once again picks up her pen to modernize one of Jane Austen’s beloved novels. In her faithful adaptation, A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility, we encounter a grieving Dashwood family as they attempt to pick up the pieces of their lives after losing, not only a father and husband they adored, but their comfortable and cherished home.
A round of applause to Kaitlin Saunders for stepping up to the challenge of modernizing Sense and Sensibility, which in my opinion, is one of the most daunting of Jane Austen’s novels to modernize! So many of the situations and conflicts in this novel do not have the same significance or consequences in our contemporary world as they did in Jane Austen’s. Engaged to a girl you are no longer in love with? (break up with her, it won’t cause a scandal!) About to be disinherited by your wealthy aunt? (get a job, stop being lazy!) I commend Kaitlin Saunders for taking on such a challenging feat!
My favorite scenes in this adaptation, and where I felt Ms. Saunders’ talents truly shine, were the scenes that illustrate the close bond the Dashwood women have with each other. How Mrs. Dashwood lets Ellie know she is there for her (when she sees that Ellie still hasn’t heard from Edward), how Ellie always shows Marianne such care and consideration (even though she can be pretty exasperating), how Ellie mourns the loss their closeness when Willoughby starts to create a rift in their relationship – all made this novel heartfelt and uplifting. In addition, it was inspiring to witness how these four women were able to start their lives anew, overcome their obstacles, and heal from their grief together.
A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility is a very straightforward adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Kaitlin Saunders meticulously adheres to the original plot and characters – you won’t find too many surprising twists here! Part of me thought it was very respectful of Kaitlin Saunders to write such an accurate and faithful update, but at the same time, another part of me wished for some new scenes, clever recreations, and creative insights. One scene I was hoping to see updated and (dare I say it?) improved from Jane Austen’s novel was a scene where Brandon declares himself and proposes to Marianne (which we don’t see happen in Jane Austen’s novel!). But alas, we again don’t see it happen! In fact, we go right from Edward and Ellie getting engaged to the double wedding…it definitely felt like there was a scene missing.
One aspect of this novel that didn’t sit right with me was the fact that Marianne was eighteen. I’m not sure if it was because Brandon was in his thirties, or because everyone seemed to be perfectly fine with the idea of Marianne becoming engaged and married at such a young age, or both…I know Marianne is only sixteen in Jane Austen’s novel, I know that it isn’t unheard of for people to get engaged and married at the age of eighteen, and that the age differences of ten plus years isn’t too shocking…but I guess when you put it all together Marianne’s situation felt a little too far removed and atypical.
Despite my quibbles, I’m so happy to have read this lovely adaptation by Kaitlin Saunders. I enjoyed my time with her lovely characters and her authentic renderings. Looking forward to reading her first release, A Modern Day Persuasion (2011) next!(less)
I waited to long to read this book! I had high expectations and I think that set me up for a little disappointment. Loved learning about my town (Wilm...moreI waited to long to read this book! I had high expectations and I think that set me up for a little disappointment. Loved learning about my town (Wilmington, NC) and the history of the blockade and the treacherous Cape Fear River. It was a blast seeing events of the story take place in stores, restaurants, and roads in which I frequently visit! Found myself a little dissatisfied with the mystery though. There didn't seem to be enough development leading up to the solution, and everything wrapped up a little too quickly.
Also, Ashely's sister, Melanie was such a selfish pain in this book! I can't believe what she put her poor sister through! She got on my nerves a little too much.(less)
In this incredibly clever and rollicking romp of an Austenesque novel, J. Marie Croft decides to put the shoe on the opposite foot and have...more4.5 stars!
In this incredibly clever and rollicking romp of an Austenesque novel, J. Marie Croft decides to put the shoe on the opposite foot and have nearly all the characters of Pride and Prejudice swap genders!
- Instead of 5 Bennet sisters there are 5 Bennet brothers – Martin, Charles, William, and the troublesome twins, Kit and Laurie.
- Mrs. Bennet is a retiring and unsociable individual who prefers staying home reading novels and Mr. Bennet has nervous complaints and is anxious to get his sons married!
- The recently widowed Jane Davenport travels to Netherfield Park in company of her two dandy brothers, her sister-in-law, and her much sought after heiress friend, Elizabeth Darcy.
- Mr. Collins’s honorable and esteemed patron is Sir Lewis de Bourgh, who lives with his unmarried son, Andrew in Kent.
- The sycophantic Olivia Collins hopes to wed William Bennet, but he seems to only have eyes for the flirtatious and comely Felicity Wickham.
I most definitely loved how J. Marie Croft cunningly and craftily reconstructed the story of Pride and Prejudice with the genders reversed! It worked really, really well – the insult at the Meryton Assembly, the reason William travels to Kent, the disastrous proposal scene, the debacle in Brighton – were all slightly altered due to the gender change in a way that was satisfying and credible. For example, instead of chasing after and flirting with redcoats, Kit and Laurie (Kitty and Lydia) spend time idolizing and imitating the militia officers in Meryton.
Like Jane Austen, J. Marie Croft has a splendid command of language. Her narration is witty, subtle, and sharp, her characters engage in banter and pithy remarks, her scenes drip with sarcasm and satire. One of my favorite scenes is where Mr. Bennet is bitterly complaining and whining about Mary King being no longer a marriageable prospect for one of his sons. Mrs. Bennet remarks: “Indeed, dear. Now, shall we play piquet, or can I interest you in more of these grapes? They are rather sour though, are they not?” - page 85 (HA! Love it!)
I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters in this novel and loved how they all had their typical odd quirks and eccentricities. William and Elizabeth with their penchant for puns and quips, Cassie Fitzwilliam with her pointed machinations to make William uncomfortable, Mr. Bennet with his competition with Sir William Lucas, and Mrs. Bennet with her guilty pleasure of reading gothic novels! The only thing I felt lacking in this novel was a little bit more closure at the end for some of these characters. Olivia Collins, Jane Davenport, and Charles Bennet in particular – I would love to know what became of them!
If the assurance of an inventive premise, wit, hilarious misadventures, and humorous gender swaps isn’t enough to entice you to pick up a copy of Love at First Slight, then perhaps the fact that this novel may be the only novel where Elizabeth goes from being Elizabeth Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet will! :D I highly recommend!
TIME FRAME: Morning after the Netherfield Ball to almost a year later
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. D...moreTYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Alternate Path
TIME FRAME: Morning after the Netherfield Ball to almost a year later
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Bennet, George Wickham, Colonel Fitzwilliam
WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:
The inventive premise. Mr. Bennet desiring/forcing a marriage between Elizabeth and Mr. Collins + Elizabeth running away from Longbourn = a very intriguing premise that I was very curious to see play out.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Plausible Premise: Lizzy is very fortunate that both of her parents don’t force her to marry Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice. Considering their situation, the time period, and her lack of dowry, she is extremely fortunate! It isn’t really a stretch to imagine a Mr. Bennet, who is irresponsible, lazy, and has many shortcomings, pursing such a course. Having his favorite daughter help take care of his estate when he is gone? Selfishly and indolently letting someone else save his family from his mistakes? It makes sense.
- Alteration of Jane Bennet: What if Jane was already seriously disappointed in love when Mr. Bingley came to Netherfield? What if that gentleman that was “so much in love with her” when she was fifteen touched her heart and broke it? I enjoyed how L. L. Diamond explored this different path with Jane Bennet. Her heart is closed to Bingley when he comes, and Mr. Darcy is correct in his assumption about her feelings not being engaged. I like it when Jane isn’t portrayed as a perfect and serene angel, it can get too saccharine sometimes!
- A Tender and Devoted Darcy: While attempting to abscond to London, Lizzy gets caught in a downpour and catches a cold. Oh, how I loved witnessing Darcy tend to her! How he would read to her at her request, check her fever while she slept, and spend the night in a chair by her side. The time Darcy and Elizabeth spent sequestered alone together was just beautiful! I loved seeing Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship develop through frank conversations, selfless concern, and sweet smiles. :)
- A New Take of Georgiana: Watch out, readers! Georgiana is a bit of a villain in this story! Because her older brother was always away at school and her father never established a relationship with her (except for giving her trinkets), Georgiana has grown up into a very insolent and resentful young woman. She doesn’t look upon Darcy with any regard or respect, and she thinks he is a hypocrite for marrying Elizabeth when he wouldn’t let her marry George. It was interesting to see Georgiana portrayed in this darker and more defiant manner – no timid reserve here! Since Darcy and Elizabeth resolve their issues earlier on in the story, Georgiana created some conflict and tension that carries us through the rest of the tale. I was dying to know what would become of her and what was the nature of her relationship with Wickham…
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Some More Reconciliation, Please?: Darcy and Elizabeth have conflicts with not only Georgiana and Wickham, but also Mr. Bennet and Jane Bennet in this novel (albeit more passive). While we see a resolution of sorts with Georgiana and Wickham (which I sort of have ambivalent feelings about), there isn’t really one with Jane and Mr. Bennet. It felt like Elizabeth should have had a showdown, reconciliation, or something with her family – especially Jane.
Some intimate and romantic scenes (which were very tasteful and not overly frequent!) Thank you, L. L. Diamond, for not making Darcy have a raging libido!
A very refreshing and thought-provoking alternate path to Pride and Prejudice! By removing some lightness and brightness and adding some darker personalities, L. L. Diamond creates a story that displays the fervent and fulfilling love two people can have for each other when everyone else in their lives hurts and disappoints them. If you don’t mind seeing some creative adjustments with Jane Austen’s characters and some intimate scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth, than I recommend you add Rain and Retribution to your TBR list! (less)
(Note: Potential readers should be made aware that this is the fourth volume in the Given Good Principles series, and that it is recommended that Volu...more(Note: Potential readers should be made aware that this is the fourth volume in the Given Good Principles series, and that it is recommended that Volume I, II, and III are read prior to reading this one – or at the least, Volume III – All the Appearance of Goodness.)
What if all the Bennet daughters but Kitty were married? What if Lydia’s imprudent elopement was patched up in a way that still left a stain on the Bennet name? What if Kitty’s life consisted of a father who continues to ignore her, a mother that stays to her rooms, and a village that shuns her?
The coming holiday season holds little in the way of happiness and anticipation for our poor Kitty…that is until an invitation to spend the holidays at Pemberley arrives! (Don’t fret, Kitty! Your sisters have not forgotten you!) En route to Pemberley, Kitty spends a few days with Georgiana and her new companion – Mrs. Hartwell. But what starts out to be a thrilling trip to town filled with shopping, friends, and Christmas dinner at an earl’s house, comes to an abrupt end when Georgiana makes a false step and her strict companion forbids her all holiday entertainments…
After encountering Maria Grace’s Kitty (with her talent for sewing and eschewal of Lydia’s imprudent habits) I knew she would make an admirable and praiseworthy heroine! Since this story takes place mostly in London, we spend time with other minor characters – Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Louisa Bingley, and the Gardiners. (Don’t expect much Darcy and Elizabeth.) I enjoyed seeing Kitty try to rise from her sister’s disgrace and improve her manners, and my heart went out to her when she suffered slights in Meryton and thought herself unworthy of the Bingleys.
What I loved most about this story was being able to witness the Christmas Day and Twelfth Night celebrations Kitty attended! I loved the scene with the Christmas pudding and all the charms inside (I think it would be a blast to replicate that tradition and see who gets what charm!) and the entertaining parlor games with the Gardiner children! In addition, I loved that the Twelfth Night celebrations took place at Longbourn instead of Pemberley. Call me crazy, but I love the idea of everyone being crowded and cozy at Longbourn – all good cheer and chaos! The Twelfth Night festivities were entertaining to witness and there are quite a few surprises in store for Kitty and for us readers! The conclusion kind of turns a little bit fairytale-ish at the end, though. It may not be as credible, but it was a very sweet and heartwarming ending.
One character I do wish we could have spent a little bit more time with is Georgiana. She started off bearing a resemblance to Lydia and there seemed to be good amount of contention between her and her companion. I would have liked to seen how their issues played out and a little more development of Georgiana’s character.
I found much to admire and appreciate in Maria Grace’s Give Good Principles series! I adored the new situations, revelations, and characters she created with her stories! A very inventive and introspective series! I recommend you read all four elegant volumes! (less)
Overview: 4 historical romances that take place in the 1870's and 1880's in Nebraska, Illinois, and Iowa.
These stories mostly dealt with women who hav...moreOverview: 4 historical romances that take place in the 1870's and 1880's in Nebraska, Illinois, and Iowa.
These stories mostly dealt with women who have to make tough decisions about their lives and futures in the wide open prairies of our country. Ivy, after spending her whole life in Boston, doesn't feel like she can fit in and belong in a town full of sod houses and unsophisticated manners. Lucinda used to be wealthy and married, but now is widowed and destitute - her only option seems to be becoming a domestic servant. Estelle is an spinster aunt that has spent her life caring for her unappreciative and cantankerous mother and great aunt, she has little faith when it comes to love. Kathleen accepts a new teaching position in a county away from her family, but doesn't intend to stay long. Her mother has always told her how she must settle down nearby her brothers and parents.
My favorite stories were the first and third about Ivy and Estelle. While four novellas were light and simple, these two portrayed love stories that had some development in them. The other two were tales of insta-love and fast-paced decision. I was not a fan of the second story at all, Lucinda. Very far-fetched and nonsensical.
Would have liked more about the Christmas season and traditions. Seemed like Christmas was definitely in the bakcground only used as an excuse for all the parties, pageants, and snowstorms.
As some of you may know, I was planning to reread Pride and Prejudice in 2013 to honor and celebrate its 200th Anniversary. Well, I sort’ve accomplish...moreAs some of you may know, I was planning to reread Pride and Prejudice in 2013 to honor and celebrate its 200th Anniversary. Well, I sort’ve accomplished my goal – started it in 2013, but I finished it in 2014. ;)
Also, I wanted to try reading an annotated edition for the first time. I debated for awhile whether I should read the annotated edition by Patricia Meyer Spacks or the revised one by David M. Shapard. Both have their merits and came highly recommended, but since I already had the Spacks edition on my library shelf I decided to start with that one. I intend to read Shapard’s edition in the future.
Now, while I can easily devote my review to the genius of Jane Austen and spend paragraph after paragraph of this review outlining every flawless aspect of her writing, I don’t think I’d be imparting anything readers don’t already know. Jane Austen is brilliant, Pride and Prejudice is a masterpiece, ’nuff said! ;)
Instead, I thought it might be beneficial for me to discuss my experience reading P&P with annotations, and comment on the observations, interpretations, and explanations made by Patricia Meyer Spacks. Here are some of the insights and understandings I learned while reading Patricia Meyer Spacks’ annotations:
- Words with Alternate Meanings: Spacks made an interesting study of how Jane Austen would often use the same word, but imply different meanings. Some of Austen’s most commonly used words in this novel – pride, condescension, blush (or colours) can be interpreted with different and distinct meanings each time. It was quite fascinating to observe how such words can have a variety of shades and degrees of connotation.
- Words with New or Uncommon Meanings: In several cases, I learned to look at statements and words differently. An example is the word “awful” where Bingley states “I do not know a more awful object than Darcy,” I have always thought of awful as meaning dreadful or terrible and supposed that was what Bingley was saying about Darcy. But if you interpret the word awful as meaning “awe-inspiring” (as Spacks suggests) it changes the whole tenor of Bingley’s description. (page 85) Reoccurring Themes:
- Throughout her annotations Spacks illustrates the repetitive metaphor of marriage as a business. A theme I knew was present in the novel, but I was not previously aware of how prevalent it was until now. She also points out that Mrs. Bennet isn’t the only character who thinks of it as such, Charlotte, Mr. Collins, and even Lydia support this metaphor.
- Another theme that Spacks enjoyed exploring is how pride and/or prejudice can be found in nearly all the characters of Pride and Prejudice, not just the two main principles. Characters who want recognition for their abilities, achievements, and situations – such as Mary Bennet and Mr. Collins – exhibit some form of pride. And characters who draw quick conclusions based on appearances and impressions – such as Jane Bennet, the Gardiners, and Mrs. Bennet are guilty (at some point) of holding onto their prejudiced opinions.
- Illuminating the Time Period: Having read my fair share of novels set in during the Regency Era, I was already aware of a lot of the practices and norms of the time period. But there was definitely some more for me to learn! One example would be on the subject of nerves. (We hear much of them from Mrs. Bennet.) I’ve always thought of them as an anxiety, a weakness, and a call for attention. What I didn’t know was that during the eighteenth century many theories and psychological studies made popular the condition of having “refined nerves.” And rather than being just considered a weakness, it implied a “highly developed emotional responsiveness.” (page 32) Mrs. Bennet doesn’t just fancy herself ill, she thinks herself superior in feeling.
- Entertaining Asides: I enjoyed seeing Spacks’ sense of humor come into play as regards comments made by Austen throughout the novel. It was almost as if she was sharing a joke with her readers. One of my favorites is when Lady Catherine states that her “character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness,” Spacks remarks: “One may wonder who has celebrated it.” (page 394)
My one minor quibble for this edition would be with the images. Sometimes the image didn’t have anything to do with the text around it, like images of Jane Austen, her homes, and other people in her life. They didn’t quite seem to belong. I think more images that pertain to the text and time period would have been beneficial – i.e. articles of clothing, house interiors, and scenery.
I emphatically recommend this annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice to readers who want to gain a better and deeper understanding of Jane Austen’s beloved masterpiece!(less)
2 short novellas around 100 pages each tell of romances between two characters with diverse upbringings and desires.
Book One takes place in Wales in...more2 short novellas around 100 pages each tell of romances between two characters with diverse upbringings and desires.
Book One takes place in Wales in 1870 and is about a miner's daughter who is afraid of losing loved ones in the mine and refuses to think of a marriage and a future with the man she loves because he works in the mine.
Book Two takes place in Ireland in 1820 and is about a mercantile man who pines after the well-to-do farmer's daughter. Having been abandoned by his father at a young age, Finn assumes all who are poor are just really lazy. He shows little mercy and compassion for those less fortunate himself.
I enjoyed the tales of finding faith and learning to forgive, but I kind of wished there was more about the setting and traditions of the time period. I picked up this book because I wanted to travel to Wales and Ireland in the 1800's. There were a few tidbits and traditions touched upon, but I would have loved to have seen more!(less)
What if Mr. and Mrs. Bennet both experienced traumatic and disturbing tragedies that forever altered their lives?
What if Mr. Bennet was indeed quiet...moreWhat if Mr. and Mrs. Bennet both experienced traumatic and disturbing tragedies that forever altered their lives?
What if Mr. Bennet was indeed quiet and private, but unlike Jane Austen's character, he was a responsible parent and attentive husband?
What if there were secrets, secrets, and more secrets surrounding the Bennet daughters???
In many Austenesque novels we see Mr. Bennet depicted as negligent, acerbic, unsociable, and even unreasonable. Sometimes he is one of the antagonists and sometimes he is a secretly sentimental. In Suzan Lauder's debut novel, Alias Thomas Bennet, she places Mr. Bennet in a role he does not often have the good fortune to occupy – the role of hero!
In this novel Mr. Bennet takes more interest and care in his family. He doesn't make sport of or ignore his wife, and she in turn is a bit more sensible and economical. He isn't careless with his finances and management of Longbourn, which results in a very comfortable living situation and adequate dowries for his daughters. When Mr. Darcy comes to town, he finds the Bennets (especially Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth) to be very intelligent and pleasant company. How do the improved manners and abundance of propriety in the Bennet household effect the illustrious Mr. Darcy of Derbyshire...Is Elizabeth still inferior? Is marrying her still a degradation?
What an originative take on Pride and Prejudice! I enjoyed seeing how the different dynamics of the Bennet family impacted the storyline, and the happy and congenial atmosphere around Longbourn was heartwarming to witness. Much better than their usual disorder and disfunction! I enjoyed seeing Mr. Bennet be active in his daughters' lives and take steps to protect them from Wickham. While at times, I may have thought the Bennet family a little too near “pictures of perfection,” I overall enjoyed seeing them portrayed in a more favorable light for a change!
What I loved most about this story was that it had a duel plot – besides the present-day story of Mr. Bingley letting Netherfield Park, readers learn about the traumatic experiences Mr. and Mrs. Bennet faced twenty years ago and how those experiences brought them together through periodic flashbacks. For me, learning the secrets of their past and witnessing their falling in love was my favorite part of the story. More so than the Darcy and Elizabeth storyline! (I know, how shocking, right?!?) In fact, I would have loved to see more of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet! Especially Mrs. Bennet – if Mr. Bennet is this story's hero, I think she should be the heroine. :)
Unique and enthralling, Alias Thomas Bennet is a wonderful choice for readers who want to see a different side of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet! I sincerely hope we see more creative and unique novels pour from the pen of Suzan Lauder real soon!
Warning: Some sexual intimacy (between Darcy and Elizabeth) and sexual violence (not between Darcy and Elizabeth)(less)
Thanks to the efforts of Pamela Aidan, Amanda Grange, Regina Jeffers, Nancy Kelley, Maya Slater, Mary Street, and many others, readers have had the op...moreThanks to the efforts of Pamela Aidan, Amanda Grange, Regina Jeffers, Nancy Kelley, Maya Slater, Mary Street, and many others, readers have had the opportunity to enter the private thoughts of Mr. Darcy and explore his psyche! These authors have creatively and skillfully shared with us what Darcy is thinking, feeling, and where he goes when he is away from Elizabeth. In Darcy's Tale, we see Pride and Prejudice as well as Mr. Darcy from a man's perspective as debut author Stanley Hurd picks up his pen and joins the ranks of authors who show us the private thoughts and inner struggles of Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Just like Pride and Prejudice, Darcy's Tale is divided into three volumes, the first volume ends with Darcy and the rest of the Bingley party departing for London after the Netherfield Ball. (So don't expect to see it all in this one volume!) ;)
What I loved most about this trilogy so far is the very strong sense of truly being in Darcy's head. Mr. Hurd's portrays Darcy as a very thoughtful and analytical character. In his mind, he is philosophical, trying to figure people out, contemplative, and always carefully considering his actions. At the beginning of the novel we see Darcy ponder marriage, the happy union his parents shared, and the nine years he has spent out in society as a bachelor. He begins to doubt that the ideal marriage he always thought of himself as having will ever be a possibility. At the same time, Georgiana, still going through her heartbreak from Wickham, begins to question Darcy about the nature of love. A lot of reflection and introspection going with our Darcy!
Another element of this story I enjoyed was witnessing Darcy's relationship with his sister Georgiana. The two begin to exchange frequent correspondence with each other in this novel (which the reader gets to read in its entirety!). They openly discuss the Ramsgate affair, regret, love, and culpability; I loved seeing the two grow closer throughout Georgiana's healing, rather than become further separated. I also enjoyed how Darcy shared his thoughts and impressions of Elizabeth with Georgiana and how she encouraged him to stay for the Netherfield Ball.
Speaking of...probably one of my favorite experiences in this novel was witnessing The Netherfield Ball through Mr. Darcys eyes. We all know that it was a night of mortification and disappointment for Elizabeth Bennet, but in his novel, Stanley Hurd shows us how poor Mr. Darcy suffered just as much if not more that evening. Dreading Wickham's presence, having his dance with Elizabeth Bennet go decidedly against his plans and wishes, learning, for the first time, the gossip and expectations surrounding his friend Bingley, and catching wind of Mr Collins intentions towards Elizabeth – the night was truly a tumult of frustration and torture...I'm surprised Mr. Darcy's head didn't explode from all the stress and tension!
Perceptive, illuminating, and riveting – Stanley Hurd is off to a stellar start with his Darcy's Tale trilogy! I adored his thoughtful, sympathetic, and reverent portrayal of our beloved Mr. Darcy! I cannot wait to read Darcy's Tale, Volume II: Into Kent, which should be released some time in the near future! (less)
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Minor Character, Retelling
TIME FRAME: Covers the same timespan as Pride and Prejudice with a couple of months after
MAIN CHA...moreTYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Minor Character, Retelling
TIME FRAME: Covers the same timespan as Pride and Prejudice with a couple of months after
MAIN CHARACTERS: Sarah (maid), Polly (younger maid), Mr. and Mrs. Hill (butler and housekeeper), James Smith (new, mysterious footman), Ptolemy Bingley (footman at Netherfield)
WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL: This book was described by many as a cross between Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey...enough said! ;) In all seriousness, I love seeing our beloved Pride and Prejudice retold from a different perspective. Meeting and spending time with the servants of Longbourn greatly intrigued me.
WHAT I LOVED:
Impressions of Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham: I loved seeing what the servants thought of these two Longbourn newcomers. Mr. Collins is their future master and at first they fear his disapproval. But once they meet him, rather than laugh at his ridiculousness, they feel pity and sympathy towards him and his lack of understanding and guidance. Wickham, on the other hand, they don't give him any sympathy at all! Sarah, James, and Mrs. Hill know he's a rat...they can smell it!
Life Downstairs: Working from five in the morning to eleven at night, callouses and chilblains on your hands, never-ceasing list of chores and duties – Jo Baker did a remarkable job of depicting the life of a gentry servant. The authenticity or her depiction felt like she knew firsthand of their toils.
Evocative Prose: This was my first time reading something by Jo Baker, her style of writing is very captivating and descriptive. With such vivid detail and tangible visuals, this novel easily lends itself to being made into a movie.
Mrs. Hill: My favorite character in this novel was Mrs. Hill. Working for the Bennet's since their nuptials, she has seen it all, suffered through it all with them. And unknown to mostly all who surround her, she is tormented by her own tragic pain and heartbreak. Such a strong, intelligent, and admirable character. I would have loved to have spent more time with her, seen more of the story from her perspective, and learn more of her thoughts and emotions.
WHAT I WASN'T TOO FOND OF: The Portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet: I'm sure growing up with servants to take care of all your needs makes one become accustomed to their services and compliance. While Elizabeth shared her novels with Sarah and often offered her kind words, I was disappointed to see her treat Sarah with some selfish inconsideration and thoughtlessness. Elizabeth's generous heart and sympathetic nature seemed to be missing in this novel. I see Elizabeth being akin to Lady Sybil, not Lady Mary!
Our Sojourn into the Napoleonic Wars: About two-thirds through this tale we take a break from present day and travel back two years and experience some time on the battlefront in Spain and Portugal with the Bennet's footman, James. While well-written and depicted in great detail, I must admit I was not very fond of these chapters. Maybe because they were just a tad too dark, too wretched, and too much removed from the world of Jane Austen.
Scenes at Pemberley: I don't want to give anything away, but suffice to say Sarah's actions towards the end of the novel and Elizabeth's and Mr. Darcy's response to them didn't ring true. Elizabeth, is again portrayed in an unfavorable light, and the resolution between Sarah and her hero just felt a little hurried and unsatisfying.
CONCLUSION: In the end, this story did not feel much like a cross between Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey. A more apropos description might be - the darker, grittier, and less “sparkling” side of Pride and Prejudice. With Longbourn, Jo Baker bravely picks up her pen and tackles the “guilt and misery” Jane Austen studiously avoided dwelling on in her novels.
Ever since reading Christina Dudley’s beautiful modern adaptation of Mansfield Park, The Beresfords, I have been eager to read more from such a skille...moreEver since reading Christina Dudley’s beautiful modern adaptation of Mansfield Park, The Beresfords, I have been eager to read more from such a skilled and creative author! (It isn’t everyone who is brave enough to take on Mansfield Park!) Even though her latest release, The Naturalist isn’t my typical Austenesque fare, I was enticed to read it after hearing it described as a clean Regency romance similar in style to Georgette Heyer (I love me some hilarious hijinks!)
Our heroine in this tale is Alice Hapgood, the second daughter (out of four) of an almost-impoverished country squire. Alice reminds me a little of Elizabeth Bennet with her quick mind, love of the outdoors, and sometimes blatant disregard for lady-like behavior. She is passionate about science and sneaks out most mornings (in young men’s attire *gasp!*) to conduct her research and observations. An activity she is able to keep secret thanks to the help of a few trusted and caring servants!
While out one morning (in a pair of breeches, loose shirt, and a hat that contains all of her hair) Alice accidentally encounters Joseph Tierney – a naturalist commissioned to make a survey on the natural life in the county of Somerset and tells him her name is, “Arthur.” Deciding to continue the charade, Alice (as Arthur) accepts a position as Joesph’s assistant. Leading him around the area, collecting samples, observing the flora and fauna – Alice gets to experience the life she’s always dreamed of and the profession she’s denied because of her gender.
Respect and friendship start to grow between these two natural observers, and for Alice, something akin to affection and attraction begins to stir in her heart… But what happens when Joseph finds out who “Arthur” really is? What happens when Alice tells the truth about her deception and disguise???
I adore Christina Dudley’s writing – her characters were lovable and quirky, the dialogue and situations felt authentic to the time period, and there was an abundance of entertaining misunderstandings, backfired schemes, and hilarious mishaps! I loved witnessing these two nature lovers become embroiled in confusion, scandal, and romance. With the cross-dressing, colorful characters, and comedic capers, I felt this novel definitely channeled Georgette Heyer! What a lark!
My one complaint is that I wanted more! Christina Dudley created such intriguing and dynamic characters that I found myself wanting more time with ALL of them come the end of the novel! Alice’s brusque and blustery father, her three sisters who each had distinct personalities, the snooty Marltons, oh – and Alice’s spendthrift Uncle Alwyn, who has a reputation for getting into lots of scrapes! (definitely want to see more of him!) Sorry to repine, Ms. Dudley, but it’s your own fault for creating such engaging characters! ;)
Actually, it looks like there may be more in store for these delightful creations, The Naturalist appears to be the first in a series of traditional Regency romances titled The Hapgoods of Bramleigh. So it looks like we will be seeing more of the Hapgood family in the future! Woot woot!(less)