Again, I am starting a review by first noting the cover. I am a big book cover person, as well as being a massive animal lover, and this cover just maAgain, I am starting a review by first noting the cover. I am a big book cover person, as well as being a massive animal lover, and this cover just makes me feel warm and happy inside. (I believe this is author Ingrid King's own tortie Allegra gracing the cover.) If you are a cat lover yourself, seeing the book alone will make you want to reach out and grab it. So do it!
Tortitude is the perfect gift for the cat lover in yourself or in your life. The photos throughout the book are stunning; they are from cat guardians all over the world who answered Ms. King's call for help in submitting pictures of their beloved felines. Pretty awesome, I would say. But this is more than just a coffee table book of lovely photos. It is chock full of information on tortoiseshell cats.
Some interesting facts about torties that you will learn from Tortitude:
* Tortoiseshell cats are not a breed but rather are named for their distinctive coloring. This coloring consists of a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate.
* Male torties are very rare due to the fact that two X chromosomes are required to produce the black, gold and orange coloring. Since male cats must have one X and one Y chromosome, it's almost genetically impossible for a male to inherit the tortoiseshell coloring as a male tortie must have an extra X chromosome.
* Tortoiseshell marking can appear in some 25 cat breeds.
* Torties are thought to bring good luck in many cultures (known as the "money cat.")
* It was believed that torties were able to see into the future and those who dream of a tortie will be lucky in love.
One of my favorite bits of information in the book was a quote from Dr. Fern Crist, a veterinarian. Dr. Crist stated that torties "are the redheads of the cat world. . . beautiful but short-tempered and quick to wrath." That quote makes this redhead chuckle and feel even more akin to the lovely tortie.
On each page of the book, the tortie is identified (I love reading their names) and a feline quote is placed below the photo. It really brings the book together nicely.
Ingrid King has been a friend of this site since I first read Buckley's Story and I find her to be a warm, delightful person who relates to cats in a way very few people do. She brings her personal and professional experience to every project she works on and, most especially, her love and understanding. Tortitude is no exception.
Lastly, Ms. King and this book have been endorsed by Jackson Galaxy. I am a huge fan of Mr. Galaxy (I'm geeking out over his endorsement!) and if the "Cat Daddy" himself sings your praises, that is something pretty special.
One of the greatest tragedies in classic literature, in my opinion, is that Jane Austen died young, leaving us with only six pieces of work. BrilliantOne of the greatest tragedies in classic literature, in my opinion, is that Jane Austen died young, leaving us with only six pieces of work. Brilliant pieces but only six. Author Syrie James has given us Janeites a real gift in conceiving a novel imagining a fifteen year old Jane Austen's first love and how it shaped her as the future novelist the world would come to know and adore.
I am not wholly an Austen purist; I appreciate and enjoy a variety of Austen and Austen inspired variations but I am picky. I accept creative license with "our Jane" but within reason - - I still want Jane to be Jane. Jane Austen's First Love checked all the boxes with me and then some.
To put it plainly, I loved this book. I read it in one sitting, quite an accomplishment for someone who works full-time outside the home, with a variety of outside activities, including writing, and with a touchy back and neck that often makes sitting for long periods difficult. I simply could not put this book down. I was enraptured from the first sentence, desperate to know about this first love of Jane's, feeling her heartache and emotions and falling in love with the feisty character of Jane as well.
Having the viewpoint be from a teenaged Jane was inspired. Many fictionalized accounts of Jane's life place her as either a young adult or toward the end of her life. Seeing an adolescent Jane, with her personality developing into many of the characteristics the author Jane Austen would be noted for, was rewarding and oh so enriching. I was particularly fond of seeing small flashes of strength, willfulness and wit that would become fully developed in the adult Jane.
Jane's relationship with her sister Cassandra was showcased to perfection. The sisters' clear love and joy with the other was heartwarming - - they were confidantes and seeking counsel from the other from early on. While their personalities were different, they were a perfect offset to the other. Cassandra was clearly Jane's biggest supporter.
As to the other characters, and there were many in Jane Austen's First Love, Ms. James penned them vividly. From the Austen parents and siblings to the families of the Knights, Bridges and Paylers, these wonderful people came alive through Ms. James' talented hand. Turning the pages, I could distinctly visualize the haughty Fanny, competitive Elizabeth and their snobbish mother Lady Bridges; the sweet natured mediator Sophia and the sickly Marianne; their genial father Lord Bridges and Mr. Lewis Cage and Mr. William Deedes. Not given short shrift are the amazing estates - - Godmersham Park, Goodnestone Park and Bifrons, the home of Edward Taylor.
Ah, Edward Taylor. Is it wrong that I fell in love with this young man that so enchanted Jane Austen in this telling? (Don't answer that.) Mr. Taylor seems to be the best combination of Jane's future literary heroes, complete with their strengths and foibles, bringing out Jane's own prejudices and first impressions. Sound familiar? He matched Jane wit for wit and adventure for adventure. Even knowing how the story must ultimately end, my heart was hurting for these two, wanting so desperately for them to end up together.
Jane Austen's First Love is full of romance, not just that between Jane and Edward. We are given an entertaining glance as to the seeds of not only Pride and Prejudice but also Emma and Mansfield Park and this glance is richly gratifying. Picking up on these ciphers made an already jubilant read an outright blissful one.
Already a fan of Syrie James and her earlier works, and having had the great pleasure of meeting her, Jane Austen's First Love only cements my opinion of her as one of the very best historical fiction writers today and one of a small and elite group of Jane Austen successors. Having her Author Afterward detailing how the idea for this book was brought to fruition and the immense amount of research she conducted, using real people and events, was a parting gift at the end of this work.
Thank you, Syrie James, for this enchanting, sweet and lovely book - - one that has earned a permanent place in my home library and easily one of the very best books I have read this year. Thank you too to Laurel Ann Nattress for encouraging the author to write this charming story. Your dedication is well deserved.
Jane Austen's First Love is a delightful tale, not to be missed by fans of Ms. Austen, Ms. James or any reader who appreciates historical fiction of the highest caliber. I wholeheartedly and highly recommend it. ...more