Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jane Austen is my favorite author so whenever I see something related to her,...moreSource: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jane Austen is my favorite author so whenever I see something related to her, my interest is piqued. While enjoying a very pleasurable rereading of Pride and Prejudice, I noticed many points that I hadn't before. I thought about age and the way the characters related to each other and the way Austen phrased. These are some of the items addressed in Mullen's work here, a true labor of love, stemming from his years studying Austen. He delves deeply into the minutiae, the little details that some may skip over but that make Austen's novels.
Among the questions are "How Much Does Age Matter?", "Do Sisters Sleep Together?", and "What Do the Characters Call Each Other?" Although I had pondered some of these themes, most of them were new to me. Especially interesting was discussions about the role of weather, if servants ever appear, and which card games are for bettors. He draws on all six of the published novels in addition to referencing Sandition. Every possible relevant item is included in his exhaustive chapters. Consequently even I found this a bit overwhelming. I would definitely not recommend this to a casual fan. No, it is most definitely intended for the serious Austen reader. You will also probably want to have read all six novels (possibly multiple times) in order to be familiar with everything he references. And be warned, that this book will probably make you want to read the books again. On tap for my 2013 is Mansfield Park and possibly Emma as well.
This book did feel on the academic side and as the book progressed, I found myself feeling a bit tired. Certain sections are referenced different times for different points and I may have read this too fast. If I read just one chapter every week or on occasion, I probably would have been able to process everything more thoroughly and not find it so dry.
Overall: Recommended for the Austen-ite; others will likely find it all too much.(less)
This is the third book in the Glamourist Histories series following the adventures of Sir and Lady Vincent in Shades of Milk and Honey...moreSource: Library
This is the third book in the Glamourist Histories series following the adventures of Sir and Lady Vincent in Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass during Regency times. Although the first book drew heavily on the works of Jane Austen, the second moved away and this third book continues the trend expanding on the historical and magical foundations of this world.
The year is 1816 and it seems like the winter will never end with crops failing and increasing unemployment with returning soldiers from the Napoleonic wars. A convenient target is the coldmongers who, in small doses can manipulate glamour to keep things cold; the general public considers them the reason between the freezing and the situation gets tense. On a more personal level, Jane and her husband have a commission in London and they take this opportunity to bring Jane's sister Melody along so she can potentially acquire a husband. But her number one choice seems very unsuitable especially as he may be involved with something very shady.
My favorite aspect of this book is actually one I didn't mention above: Sir Vincent has been estranged from his family ever since he pursued glamour as a profession but the possibility of reconciliation is dangled, introducing many new characters including his cold and cruel father. I also really liked the historical elements-I didn't even know about this cold summer until I read this book.
The part I didn't really like was the romantic subplot-I didn't think much of Melody's suitor, which coincides with Jane's assessment of his character. When the main character is so anti-someone, it is hard to persevere in liking him. Luckily Jane and Vincent have some really cute moments as they fight for their marriage despite many challenges. They are starting to know each other so well and have great banter.
Overall: Fun magical world incorporating lesser-known historical facts (there's a fun discussion guide at the end to peruse) and ever deepening its characterization.(less)
This was an automatic want-to-read after seeing that it was inspired by Austen's Pride and Prejudice, my very favorite book. I am always curious to se...moreThis was an automatic want-to-read after seeing that it was inspired by Austen's Pride and Prejudice, my very favorite book. I am always curious to see how an author will update the specific settings, characters, and plots from Austen's time to fit into our time.
In this case, we have a Jamaican-born mother whose childhood under the British empire inculcated her into certain ideas about status and class; this has been something she has tried to impress upon her four daughters, who were all named for British royalty: from eldest Victoria, next born Elizabeth (aka Bliss, our narrator), Diana, and Charlotte. She herself married a British man but alas a lowly professor without the income to keep them in the style she'd like. Bliss is her mother's disappointment, having married a poor Latin man, divorcing him when she discovered his adultery, and returning to live at home with their daughter while earning her PhD in history. Meanwhile Victoria is possibly on the verge of an unenthusiastic engagement to a very suitable man and high-schooler Charlotte is sneaking out at night for impure activities. Diana is the pride, having been selected to appear on a reality show called The Virgin, as the titular virgin who chooses a man and will marry him on television. This is her chance to snag a wealthy and hopefully titled man while also earning fame that will reflect onto her family.
Of course as I read, I was making comparisons to the original text. I thought the parents were especially well-done with the grasping mother and the distant father who has basically written off his two youngest. Diana and Charlotte as fame-seeking young women akin to Kitty and Lydia are also well-done. I also liked the stand-ins for Darcy and Wickham, with the Darcy guy in particular having some swoonworthy actions (he's so good to Bliss' daughter!) However I thought Bliss, while possessing an enjoyable sly sense of humor, cannot quite live up to my beloved Lizzy Bennet.
I did end up with two sizable problems. First, I didn't think enough time was spent on the romance. Bliss comes a lot closer to being with her Wickham and I felt their romance received more page-time than the real one. The ending with Bliss and her Darcy together felt rather rushed and abrupt. Second sometimes I thought the author was trying to speak against a society that condemns women for the clothing they wear and the fact that they might enjoy sex. But then there would be language agreeing with that point of view and a lot of use of the word "slut" used by both sympathetic and unsympathetic characters. It made me uncomfortable.
One last thing, I also had a very dumb moment about a third of the way through when I realized the book title comes from the main character. Her name is Bliss and she is imperfect! Um, that's something I should have realized right off but instead it took me quite a while...
Overall: A fun modern updating on Pride and Prejudice; I especially loved the exploration of the Mrs. Bennet character and her relationships with her daughters.
Cover: Love the pink and the artwork does remind me of some covers of Austen books that I've seen while also incorporating the modern elements of reality television.(less)
While browsing through the new releases at my library, I came across this title and immediately wondered if it was a modern Persuasion retelling....more3.5/5
While browsing through the new releases at my library, I came across this title and immediately wondered if it was a modern Persuasion retelling. After reading the synopsis, I knew it was and as a long-time Austen fan, I thought I would enjoy this so I snatched it up.
And I did mostly enjoy this. Main character Elizabeth Parker has aided in two previous murder investigations (see the previous books in the series) and fancies herself somewhat of an amateur detective, perhaps along the lines of Golden Age detective Adela Bradley. She is also a huge fan of Jane Austen and is always quick with a quip, providing for some of the most entertaining lines of the book. The Persuasion subplot comes in the form of her cousin Ann whose ex is now the police detective investigating the murder that is at the center of this book.
The writing style was easy and I read this book very quickly. There is a good cast of characters with distinct personalities so I never confused anyone with anyone else. Nor was I able to solve the murder with its many pieces. The threads of the mystery were a little confusing although I guess that is partly the point. There are several pieces that seem to be unconnected as the murderer seems to be trying to make them be, to cast suspicion on anyone but him/herself. I do think we could have had a few more clues about whodunnit but maybe other readers thought we were given plenty so that is simply a matter of personal preference.
Overall: I enjoyed my introduction to the world of Elizabeth Parker. I definitely want to check out the first two books as well as the fourth which sounds like it will be set in Bath at the Jane Austen Festival!(less)
When I was browsing on Netgalley, I saw Jane Austen retelling and my mind went immediately to "must read." Thus I interpreted "latter-day" to mean mod...moreWhen I was browsing on Netgalley, I saw Jane Austen retelling and my mind went immediately to "must read." Thus I interpreted "latter-day" to mean modern instead of referring to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was a little concerned going in to it because I'm not a Mormon; I'm Christian. I didn't want to be preached to; I just wanted to enjoy a story inspired by Austen, which is what I got.
I just have such a fondness for Austen that it can overcome most anything. Happily this book had its own strengths and didn't need much help. Our heroine is Anne who was engaged for about a day to a fine young man before being persuaded by her parents to break it off. Now he is a police captain and she is single, relied upon by her family and quietly helping even as they take total advantage of her.
There are a few big differences from Persuasion. Firstly Anne's mother is alive with an influential presence in her life whereas in the original, the mother is dead with Lady Russell serving as adviser. The other BIG difference I noted was the presentation of the William Elliott character. A wolf in snake's clothing in both books, this version has him becoming obsessed with and stalking Anne, adding a very frightening dimension to the tale. This also allows Frederick to be shown off to his best advantage as he plays the hero role perfectly, bringing in his police experience and supporting Anne through the ordeal.
Then there is the religious element. I think Austen's characters were probably Anglican, as I believe she is the daughter of a clergyman but religion is not a strong element in any of her books. Here though religion does play an important role. Anne is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (I like typing out the full name because it makes me think of "Two by Two" from The Book of Mormon). In this version, Anne prays, she quotes Mormon scriptures, she attends functions, she wants a sealed marriage. Although it was a little jarring and I got the feeling the book assumed I was Mormon or was interested in converting, I didn't feel very preached to.
Overall: Quite enjoyable for those of us who eat up Austen retellings; perhaps not as humorous as the best of Austen is but a quick read for me.
Cover: The cover model has a bit of Keira Knightley to her in my opinion; I am in the pro-KK camp so that is a compliment from me although maybe I am just quick to cast KK in anything at all related to British period drama.(less)
I love the cover for this and was immediately sold when I saw that it seemed to draw inspiration from Jane Austen's works. What more could I possibly...moreI love the cover for this and was immediately sold when I saw that it seemed to draw inspiration from Jane Austen's works. What more could I possibly want?
Well, and not to be mean, but a more original story that pays less homage to Austen would have been appreciated. There's one scene that is basically straight out of Emma with the names changed. But let's look further.
Keeping the castle, besides being the title, is alos the primary motivator for the main character Althea Crawley (Downton Abbey, what what). The castle and its land are the inheritance of her young brother Alexander. Its decrepitness does not give them much of an income forcing them to rely on Althea's stepsisters fortune those few times when some money can be pried out of their hands. Thus Althea sees no choice but to use her beauty (and it is an extraordinary beauty) to marry money.
After accidentally bungling a proposal from a local man (in the humorous opening scene), Althea is thankful that new prospects are coming in the person of Lord Boring (never quite understood why that was his name; if it's a joke, it's not very funny). Other gentlemen include the Marquis of Bumbershook, who is ever so kind to her mother, and the very disagreeable Mr. Fredericks, doing his best Mr. Darcy impression.
As stated earlier, this book owes a lot to Austen, most especially Pride and Prejudice and Emma. The book blurb also cites I Capture the Castle, which I can see. As these are stories I enjoy, it is no surprise that I enjoyed this one. But alas it did not really have anything new to capture my heart and imprint itself on my book-loving memory.
Overall: Enjoyable while reading but not clever or unique enough to standout and stake its own claim.
Cover: I do like the cover; even before reading the synopsis, it made me interested in the book.(less)
So whenever I read a collection of short stories, I break it down into a LONG review so that I can cover every single one. Like most, this was a grab...moreSo whenever I read a collection of short stories, I break it down into a LONG review so that I can cover every single one. Like most, this was a grab bag with some stories that really worked for me and others that most decidedly did not. Here goes:
Jane Austen's Nightmare by Syrie James-characters from five of Austen's novels approach her as if they were real people, challenging her portrayals of them. Characters are too perfect, too flawed, and Austen comes to question her own judgment in creating them. Really fun concept and good writing: 4/5
Waiting by Jane Odiwe-Captain Wentworth comes to ask Sir Walter for his blessing on Anne and Wentworth's marriage; also includes flashbacks to their first meeting and engagement. Although I love Persuasion, I didn't find this very exciting so 3.5/5
A Night at Northanger by Lauren Willig-A camera crew for "Ghost Trekkers" is exploring the legend of the ghost at Northanger Abbey; main character Cate discovers her own ghost, that of lady novelist Jane Austen. This was an okay story but it was the last line that really clinched this story for me: 4/5
Jane and the Gentleman Rogue by Stephanie Barron-This read like an excerpt from Barron's mystery series about Jane Austen as a detective and I felt like a ton of characters were thrown at me without the chance to sort them out. They also all seemed to have nicknames and it was just very confusing: 3/5
Faux Jane by F.J. Meier-a The Thin Man-esque story with a married couple and winks to the story investigate someone buying a signed first-edition Pride and Prejudice. An okay story but not one of my favorites: 3/5
Nothing Less Than Fairy-Land by Monica Fairview-A post-Emma story. Emma and Mr. Knightley have gone on their honeymoon but face troubles as they attempt to move Mr. Knightley into Highbury. Mr. Woodhouse is a huge pain as you might expect. But Emma is adorably charming and Mr. Knightley also shines: 4/5
Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane by Adriana Trigiani-a letter from Jane Austen to her niece Anna upon the latter's engagement to Declan/Benjamin. This was weird in that the fiance's name changed, he is referred to as both Declan and Benjamin and because there are references to modern technology, which threw me. 2/5
Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss by Jo Beverly-at first I thought this was a post-S&S story as the MC is Elinor; but it is not although it does have some connections to it. Imagine if Colonel Brandon had decided to court Mrs. Dashwood instead of Marianne and that somewhat captures how I viewed the story. Definitely one of the more romantic stories: 4.5/5
When Only a Darcy Will Do by Beth Pattillo-Elizabeth is attempting to earn some desperately needed cash in modern day London by giving tours about Jane Austen's life. One day Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy shows up and takes her tour, listening to her passion and fears and worries. So sweet; loved the ending! 5/5
Heard of You by Margaret C. Sullivan-a backstory for Persuasion, how Admiral and Mrs. Croft were "matched" by Captain Wentworth; I loved how this filled in the blanks of some lesser-known characters and I felt it was consistent with the original: 4/5
The Ghostwriter by Elizabeth Aston-Sara has lost her love but finds instead the ghost of Jane Austen who provides inspiration and helps her with her love life. I loved the tartness of ghost Miss Austen but I'm not in love with this story: 4/5
Mr. Bennet Meets His Match by Amanda Grange-backstory for P&P; I really enjoyed this look in to how Mr and Mrs. Bennet met and decided to marry. It also features his snobbish parents, her social climbing parents, and the extremely odious parents of Mr. Collins. I appreciated that while Mr. Bennet knew he didn't have a marriage quite like Lizzie and Darcy, he knows that he got laughter and five daughters so in the end, he did pretty well: 4.5/5
Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! by Janet Mullany-A mashup of two incredibly popular phenomena from the UK: Jane Austen and the Beatles set in 1964. Three teenage girls are obsessed with the Fab Four and one savvy teacher uses that interest to explore Sense and Sensibility. A really clever concept and great for me as I love both; very thought provoking on my opinions of the characters in S&S: 4/5
Letters to Lydia by Maya Slater-I didn't have very high expectations for this one seeing as the title involves Lydia Bennet, one of my least fave characters. Then I realized the narrator was Maria Lucas, someone I always forget about due to her absence from the Keira Knightley film adaptation (oops!) However I soon found myself engaged as we get another perspective on P&P with someone who's right there and can clearly see the love that Darcy and Lizzie have for each other even when they can't tell: 5/5
The Mysterious Closet: A Tale by Myretta Robens-This one was weird. A modern story involving Gothic intrigue and referencing Northanger Abbey. I didn't really like it: 2.5/5
Jane Austen's Cat by Diana Birchall-Jane Austen weaves stories for two of her young relations, taking her classic stories and using cats as the characters. Of course, I'm predisposed to like any story involving cats so this rating might be a bit high: 3.5/5
Me and Mr. Darcy, Again... by Alexandra Potter-I think this is a sequel to Potter's novel, which I read but don't really remember. Em, with the intervention of Mr. Darcy, realizes that real men are better than fictional men 4/5
What Would Austen Do? by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway-this story is notable for featuring a young protagonist who just happens to be male. James Austen accidentally enrolls in a class for English Country Dancing and develops a love for Jane Austen that enables him to be himself instead of a mindless follower like the other kids at school. Surprising and sweet-loved it! 5/5
The Riding Habit by Pamela Aidan-a post-P&P story with Darcy attempting to teach Lizzie how to ride but also tackling Georgiana growing up and Lizzie's fears about being inadequate in Darcy's London crowd. Okay-I'm not the biggest fan of what happens next for Darcy and Lizzie: 4/5
The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey-this story also features a male protagonist in modern-day USA who is inspired by Persuasion. I liked the idea but thought there were some plot inconsistencies that made me like the plot a bit less: 3.5/5
The Chase by Carrie Bebris-this story was so random. It's about Austen's brother Francis William Austen, who was a captain in the navy. I kept thinking we'd see how he inspired Wentworth or something but no. It's just the story of some of his exploits at sea. I thought it was very out of sync with the rest of the stories in the collection: 1.5/5
Intolerable Stupidity by Laurie Viera Rigler-another really clever concept. Writers of Austen sequels and film adaptations are on trial with Judge Lady Catherine de Bourgh presiding and Darcy as the key plaintiff. I think it's very funny to think about such a concept and it reminded me of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. A great end: 5/5
Overall: Mixed but there were some standouts and I mostly enjoyed myself even when I didn't love the story.(less)