Jane Odiwe has been a favorite Jane Austen-inspired author of mine for some time and she earns a special distinction due to her Lydia Bennet’s Story b...moreJane Odiwe has been a favorite Jane Austen-inspired author of mine for some time and she earns a special distinction due to her Lydia Bennet’s Story being the first Austen sequel/prequel that I read and starting me down the road of various Austen variations. I loved Lydia Bennet’s Story, as well as her other sequels/reimaginings Mr. Darcy’s Secret and Willoughy’s Return in which she vividly brought beloved Jane’s original characters back to life. Searching for Captain Wentworth is different from Ms. Odiwe’s previous work because while it does center on one of beloved Jane’s work (this time, Persuasion), it’s a modern take with time travel back to the Regency period of Jane Austen. And oh yes, beloved Jane herself plays a very central role.
I loved how Ms. Odiwe took Jane Austen’s actual history of the time she spent in Bath and wove a wonderfully romantic tale of how Persuasion was conceived and birthed. Jane is presented here as a feisty and charming woman, a loyal sister. And yes, a writer at heart. In addition to Jane, Cassandra Austen and Charles Austen were both represented and it was a delight to have them included as both were vital in Jane’s life.
I loved our heroine, Sophie, an aspiring writer who desperately wants to follow in Jane Austen’s footsteps. She was utterly loveable and it was easy to root for her.
The set up for the story is seamless and I was entranced by both Sophie’s present day conflicts and historical issues. I adored both the modern day story as well as the story unfolding in Regency Bath. When I was reading about Regency Bath, I didn’t want it to end and by the same token, present day Bath held me captivated. I am a big fan of time travel pieces and never before have I experienced equal passion for both eras being represented. It created a torn feeling in me as I fell in love with both Charles and Josh, Charles’ present day counterpart. Both men have standout qualities, both are incredible fantasy literature men so who should Sophie choose?
Ms. Odiwe’s knowledge of artwork and art history shines through solidly in the passages with Josh at work in the museum and as someone with very limited knowledge on art and art history, I was fascinated with it. I also appreciated Ms. Odiwe’s insider knowledge of Bath. Austen fans will recognize and rejoice over the Pump Rooms, Lyme Regis and assembly rooms. The city comes alive in glorious detail and for an Austen addict and Anglophile like myself, only furthers to whet my appetite to walk in Jane Austen’s footsteps myself.
I must give Searching for Captain Wentworth my highest recommendation. Reading it was equivalent to enjoying one of Jane Austen’s own works - - romantic, clever, entertaining and ultimately satisfying. Ms. Odiwe’s affection for Jane Austen allows the reader to escape into a land in which disbelief is suspended and all things are possible and isn’t that what a good book is supposed to do?
Searching for Captain Wentworth may well be my favorite of Ms. Odiwe's novels. Every character is so real, so vivid, every scene so perfectly handled I desperately wanted to live within the pages of this achingly romantic book for more than the few short days I did.
This is author Victoria Connelly's second entry in her "Austen Addicts" series (to read my review of her first, A Weekend With Mr. Darcy, please go he...moreThis is author Victoria Connelly's second entry in her "Austen Addicts" series (to read my review of her first, A Weekend With Mr. Darcy, please go here) and I was utterly delighted with this effort.
From the first page, Ms. Connelly draws the reader in with the comparisons to Jane Austen's Persuasion, most notably the stunning location of Lyme Regis. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that I was secretly envious of Kay, stepping into the role of bed and breakfast owner. Wouldn't it be fabulous to run a cozy little bed and breakfast in the charming village of Lyme?
Kay was a marvelous heroine for this book, the right balance of sweet and spicy, sensitive and headstrong. Certainly she did a few things that made me say "oh no!" out loud but they were frustratingly realistic and not actions that were merely to move the plot forward.
Ms. Connelly treats the reader with a smorgasboard of savory characters, from the sexy leading man portraying Captain Wentworth in the production of Persuasion being filmed in the village to the diva-like supporting actress, to the quiet and introverted leading lady and the humble writer, Adam. We know from the get go that Adam is the "Mr. Darcy" in Kay's world but her journey to discover that is a fun and exciting one. In that regard, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy has shades of Emma, where the heroine has her dream man right in front of her but doesn't see it immediately. In fact, despite the "Mr. Darcy" in the title, there is little other commonality with Pride and Prejudice.
My favorite character, however, is the seaside town of Lyme Regis. The writing provides gorgeous mental pictures of Jane Austen's beloved village, from the largest to the smallest detail. Ms. Connelly writes of the town with such love and care that I dare any reader to walk away from Dreaming of Mr. Darcy without a serious yearn to jump on the next flight across the pond.
If you are a Jane Austen purist, read no further, my gentle friend. Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard will likely send you into a fit which will require smelli...moreIf you are a Jane Austen purist, read no further, my gentle friend. Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard will likely send you into a fit which will require smelling salts, The Six (all Jane Austen's literary efforts) and a nice tub of Ben & Jerry's eaten in front of the Colin Firth version of Pride & Prejudice in order to recover.
If you are open minded and don't mind your Jane Austen adaptations with wit, savvy and modernization, you will get a kick out of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard. I know I did.
The premise to this modern day on the beach retelling of my beloved Jane Austen classic is very similar to the original, with Mrs. Bennet being shrill and anxious for her five daughters to marry well, Mr. Bennet just wanting some quiet, Jane being loyal and steadfast, Mary being a studious bookworm (physics this time around), Kitty and Lydia being boy crazy and Elizabeth being spirited and energetic. Into this crazy summer house of estrogen comes Mr. Bingley, his snooty sisters and good friend Mr. Darcy. Not to be left out, Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins make their unromantic match, George Wickham pays a visit to the Bennet ladies, charming and impressing both Elizabeth and Lydia, and Lady Catherine de Brrr (here so named) becomes supremely vexed over the pretentious Elizabeth.
Author Belinda Roberts takes Jane Austen's original text and intersperses it with modern speak, slang and text messages. It's an interesting combination and I thought it made for a fun, light and original read.
Her modern day Elizabeth is a gal you can root for. She doesn't take herself too seriously and she plans on going to university. She's not silly, as are Kitty and Lydia, she's not as reserved as Jane and she's a loyal friend to Charlotte (better known as Lottie here). She's also a superb athlete who can keep up with and outdo even Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Darcy is a bit more of a gray area for me here. Despite the liberties with other changes and characters I felt that I didn't know him quite as well as I would have liked. I understood why he fell for Elizabeth but what exactly caused her to change her opinion of him was a bit of a mystery. I didn't particularly care for the "second proposal" scene as Ms. Roberts rewrote it and felt that although it was meant to be lighthearted and humorous it bordered on the ridiculously silly.
Likewise, the absolute about face that both Lydia and Wickham committed were completely out of character and very rapid. Perhaps I just prefer my Lydia to remain as Jane Austen wrote her - - selfish, flighty and immature.
Charlotte Lucas remained very true to the original, deciding that marriage to an insufferable yet respected enough man was preferable to being a spinster. Mr. Collins was appropriately boorish and hellbent on finding a suitable wife to impress his benefactor, the wonderfully blunt Lady Catherine.
I found it great fun to compare Ms. Roberts' version of events, happening in the modern day, of course, to Jane Austen's original, such as the post and the letters being replaced by text messages and shopping for ribbons in Meryton now being shopping for bikinis in Salcombe.
Basically, fun is what Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard is. It's a book not meant to be taken seriously and takes the popular genre of Pride & Prejudice retellings and turns it on its ear by not only modernizing it but setting it seaside. The chapters are relatively short, some even one or two paragraphs, and the reading as light as a helium filled balloon. I chuckled and laughed out loud in places. I found it to be great entertainment and as such, you can't go wrong. Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard is a perfect beach read and just in time for the summer.
I chose Cindy Jones' new novel, My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park, due to the Austen connection and the overall storyline. Although Ma...moreI chose Cindy Jones' new novel, My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park, due to the Austen connection and the overall storyline. Although Mansfield Park is not my personal favorite of Jane Austen's works I thought the concept sounded like Austenland by Shannon Hale, which I loved reading.
While there were similarities to Ms. Hale's work, in the end My Jane Austen Summer didn't gel for me. Perhaps the initial, and main, problem was that I didn't connect with Lily, the main character of the book. I wanted to and I kept waiting to feel a kinship with her that just didn't come. I felt as though every time I began to make that tenuous connection, the chapter ended.
Likewise, Lily's potential love interest - - her Henry Crawford or Edmund Bertram,depending on how you view it - - seemed a shell of a character that I just couldn't get behind. Much like Lily, even after pages of reading about him, I felt I really didn't know him.
The supporting characters were equally as mystifying to me and other than Omar, I really didn't like them. They appeared selfish, greedy and utterly self-obsessed. None of the characters, Lily included, seem to have genuine and real interactions with others. I didn't feel love or affection, nor did I feel any strong bonds of friendship.
Sadly, the ending of the book felt very much like a letdown for me and I was disappointed with it. I appreciated that Lily had grown and changed for the better but being a Jane Austen themed book, I wanted a clear romantic resolution and My Jane Austen Summer did not provide one.
On the upside, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Literary Festival. The descriptions and actions were so vividly written by Ms. Jones that I could easily and quickly see it in my mind and wish that I was there, either as a participant or a patron. I also enjoyed reading about the daily life at Newton Priors, the hustle and bustle of the Janeites and English country life.
It's obvious from the many chapters devoted to the Literary Festival and Mansfield Park in general that Cindy Jones is a devoted fan of Jane Austen, as well as a talented writer. Ms. Jones' writing is what saves this book, bottom line. Despite the fact the book itself didn't fully work for me, the writing is top notch and Ms. Jones is an excellent writer. For that reason I would not hesitate to read another book by her.
While I can't fully recommend My Jane Austen Summer without reservation to all readers, I won't say it's not worth reading. I was expecting more of the lightness and joy that I had found in the aforementioned Austenland and that I think would have made the book more rewarding for me. As stated, Ms. Jones' writing is superb and perhaps fans of Mansfield Park may appreciate My Jane Austen Summer in a way that I did not.
Let's start with the utterly shallow on this book. The cover is divine, isn't it? I love the plume through the paper, I love the man (presumably Wickh...moreLet's start with the utterly shallow on this book. The cover is divine, isn't it? I love the plume through the paper, I love the man (presumably Wickham) on the right side of the page with only half his face revealed (a portend of Wickham never truly revealing all himself?) and the ladies on the upper left (Wickham's weakness).
On to the actual book, I love that author Amanda Grange took Pride and Prejudice's bad boy, extremely relevant to the overall story and yet still a supporting character, and based a book around him. After all, Jane Austen didn't give much insight into George Wickham's mind and actions, other than through others' recountings. The reader receives some strong ideas from Wickham's own fictionalized tales to Elizabeth but the focus remains on Elizabeth and how she perceives Wickham's tales and how this affects her presumptions toward Mr. Darcy.
Wickham's Diary allows readers to peek inside George Wickham's world, as the son of the weathy Mr. Darcy's steward and a flighty, flirtacious mother, through relatively brief diary entries spoken in his voice. The entries begin when Wickham is twelve, and already chafing against the system that does not allow him to be young Fitzwilliam Darcy's equal. The undertones of jealousy and resentment are already set, heightened by young George's mother's wish of a more affluent lifestyle and her assertions to her son that he will do something better with his life than becoming a steward.
I was fond of seeing Wickham's home life from his own perspective and what events conspired to shape him into the rogue we were introduced to in Pride and Prejudice. His mother proved a fascinating character, far more so than his father, and Wickham's relationship with her, told through the author's eyes, explained a lot of his future endeavors.
I also enjoyed seeing the characters and set ups that would eventually come to shape Pride and Prejudice and the roads that would lead Wickham to Meryton on the day that would bring him into the Bennet family's world, with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley to witness it.
It was additionally rewarding to see the Darcy family from an outside eye, even one as jaundiced as George Wickham's. Most Pride and Prejudice retellings focus on Darcy as an adult already, so it was pleasurable to read about him as a young boy and adolescent. It was also nice to read about the senior Mr. Darcy, since very little has been written about him other than being a good man.
Despite these excellent points, I was discouraged that the book was so slim. Granted, George Wickham is not as major a character as Mr. Darcy, or Mr. Knightley from Emma, (author Amanda Grange has written "diaries" of these characters, among others) but I do think he was slightly shortchanged in this tome. For example, the book ends prior to his fateful meeting with the Bennet girls in Meryton. I, for one, would have loved to read Wickham's viewpoint on seeing Darcy, for the first time since his aborted elopement with Georgiana, in the village, and upon meeting both Elizabeth and Lydia. I also would have liked to know his thoughts on Lydia and her silliness and exactly what drove him, beside hormones, to encourage Lydia to believe he was going to run off to Gretna Green with her. And who wouldn't want to know Wickham's thoughts upon his first introduction to his eventual mother-in-law, Mrs. Bennet?
Unfortunately, Wickham's Diary deprives the reader of that. I can only speculate that the author ended the book where she did, assuming that Pride and Prejudice readers would be able to figure out, based on Jane Austen's book, what happened next with Wickham. True enough, but it still would have been a fun ride to continue. And space did indeed allow.
All that said, I enjoyed Wickham's Diary and found it a speedy, entertaining romp through George Wickham's world of drink, debauchery and drive. For Pride and Prejudice fans, it should go on their wish list.
Let's get this out in the open. I am not a fan of the Western genre. At all. I like historical fiction but cowboy tales? Not so much. So you might won...moreLet's get this out in the open. I am not a fan of the Western genre. At all. I like historical fiction but cowboy tales? Not so much. So you might wonder why I would choose to read Pemberley Ranch. Simple. Because it's a different take on my beloved Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and I am willing to read any work that revolves around them.
That being said . . . I don't give ratings on my reviews but if I did, I would give this book five stars. I absolutely adored Pemberley Ranch and consider it one of my favorite Pride and Prejudice variations. It moves our Regency-era Fitzwilliam Darcy and Lizzy Bennet to the post-Civil War Old West (Texas) Wil Darcy and Beth Bennet and includes a wonderful helping of gunfights, saloons, easy women and romance.
Perhaps most unusual for a Pride and Prejudice variation, Pemberley Ranch is written by a male author. Mr. Caldwell does a phenomenal job of seamlessly blending the timeless Darcy-Bennet romance with the abounding history of this country after the Civil War and comes up aces. He does a faultless job of showing the conflict between the North and South and the many prejudices that were rife in the nation, even after peacetime. Such prejudices figure prominantly in Pemberley Ranch, as prejudices (though of a certain kind) figured prominantly in Pride and Prejudice.
Mr. Caldwell's writing is fluid, engaging and wholly appropriate. The dialogue is seamless and the descriptions of character, location and situation are colorful. I appreciated the storyline Mr. Caldwell penned and loved the adventurous aspect overall.
Mr. Caldwell also did an exemplary job taking creative license with supporting characters. Characters who had previously had little exploration by Jane Austen (Anne de Bourgh, Denny, Colonel Fitzwilliam) get meticulous treatment in Pemberley Ranch, and realistic to boot. Furthermore, Mr. Caldwell doesn't limit himself to Pride and Prejudice characters and liberally plucks familiar persons from Ms. Austen's other works, including Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility and Emma.
Pemberley Ranch is a fantastic exploration of the post-Civil War period as told through the eyes of the Darcys and the Bennets from a male perspective. I have always been a fan of John Jakes' North and South trilogy and while Pemberley Ranch isn't nearly as detailed and thorough as that series, it's a wonderful educator on our nation's history, as well as an engrossing read.
I would highly recommend Pemberley Ranch to not only fans of Jane Austen but also fans of historical fiction, particularly those centered in the Civil War era, as well as fans of the western genre. Pemberley Ranch covers a lot of bases and does so with entertainment, wit and aplomb. Those readers who prefer their books without any sexuality (there is a sexual scene in the book) or offensive language (there are a few obscenities) may take issue with Pemberley Ranch but others should find no fault with it. I look forward to future works by Mr. Caldwell and I think Jane Austen herself would have been pleased with the Old West spin on her beloved characters.
Both Jane Austen inspired books and vampire themed books could be considered an oversaturated genre but Jane and the Damned makes it mark and stands o...moreBoth Jane Austen inspired books and vampire themed books could be considered an oversaturated genre but Jane and the Damned makes it mark and stands out among the competition. I found the overall premise of Jane Austen, pre-author fame, being turned into a vampire novel (no pun intended) and refreshingly original. This Jane is humorous and witty but she also has a bloodlust - - she is certainly no chaste Cullen vampire.
Author Janet Mullany created wonderful conflict within the pages of this exciting read. Becoming a vampire and associating with other vampires and their heady, indulgent (non)lifestyle is stimulating for Jane, but goes against her upbringing. Not only does it conflict with her religious family's thinking (Jane's father is a minister) but it also depletes her desire to write and takes her away from her beloved sister Cassandra. While Jane is torn at the loss of familial relationships and devastated at not putting pen to paper, she thrills at assisting in ambushing the French, fighting as a male and rubbing shoulders with royalty. What's a beloved Regency gal to do?
Jane and the Damned wasn't what I was expecting; it far exceeded my expectations. I loved the action, I loved the vampire elements and I loved that Ms. Mullany kept many quirks and characteristics of the original Jane intact. The fictional characters Ms. Mullany introduced were vibrant, flamboyant , excessive and seductive - - Jane was made more remarkable by her alliance with them. It was fascinating to think of our beloved Jane, a proper lady of the times, a minister's daughter, who was perhaps most honest when penning tales, participating in feeding frenzies, throat ripping and yes, even romance. I liked this Jane, I would even go so far as to say I loved this Jane - - this determined, fearless and extremely resolute Jane - - and was sad to see this exhilirating vampire tale come to an end.
Jane and the Damned is a vampire story for those discriminating readers who enjoy a more cerebral type of supernatural yarn. For the diehard Austen purist, Jane and the Damned may be a little too much creative license. I am most certainly adding Ms. Mullany to my list of "must read" authors and look forward with anticipation to what literary delicacy she can offer us next.
Author Carrie Bebris continues her literary love letter to Jane Austen with book five of her Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series and, let's be honest, I...moreAuthor Carrie Bebris continues her literary love letter to Jane Austen with book five of her Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series and, let's be honest, I consider this book to be equally a love letter to me because I love, love, love this series so much. If you haven't picked up any of the books I cannot encourage you enough to do so. They can be read out of sequence although the first book does pick up immediately after the wedding of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.
The best thing about Ms. Bebris' series of books is not only that they remain true to the original characters that Jane Austen conceived but they are delightful cozy mysteries of their own. You won't find anything objectionable in this book, or any other in the series, and even the most diehard Jane Austen purist will have difficulty finding fault with Ms. Bebris' take on the beloved Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.
In The Intrigue at Highbury, Darcy and Elizabeth are traveling and passing through the village of Highbury, allowing them to be introduced to the wonderful characters from Emma, and allowing us readers to be reintroduced to them after the joyous marriage of Mr. Knightley and Emma Woodhouse. The book begins roughly a month after their nuptials and we find Emma just as scheming in her matchmaking plans, Mr. Knightley just as dashing, Mr. Woodhouse as much of a worrier, Miss Bates as much of a talker and Mrs. Elton as pretentious as ever.
As with the previous books in the series, a mystery abounds and who better than Mr. and Mrs. Darcy to solve it? No complaints here. Despite the setting in Highbury, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are most definitely the main characters and they carry this book with aplomb. The mystery is satisfying, leaving you feeling pleasantly satiated at the conclusion of the book.
I tore through this book quickly, anxious not only for the answer to "whodunnit" but also immensely enjoying the těte á těte with the Darcys. Ms. Bebris continues to defy the concept that sequels get weaker as they go and she continues to breathe new energy into the busy Pride and Prejudice variation/sequels genre.
As happy as I was to read The Intrigue at Highbury I was sad to bid my beloved Darcys goodbye once more, until Ms. Bebris gifts us with another book. And good news on that front - - the next book being a take on Persuasion!
I would not hesitate to recommend The Intrigue at Highbury to any reader who is partial to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and/or cozy mysteries. In fact, I would highly recommend this book, or any of the books in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries series, and without hesitation. (less)