In this sequel to Pride and Prejudice Mary Bennet finds herself the focus of the attentions of a young gentleman, Henry Walsh. A few years have gone b...moreIn this sequel to Pride and Prejudice Mary Bennet finds herself the focus of the attentions of a young gentleman, Henry Walsh. A few years have gone by since the events of Pride and Prejudice; Elizabeth and Jane have both settled into married life and Kitty and Mary spend their time visiting their sisters. Mary has spent the years taking a hard look at herself and has changed dramatically from the hard and judgmental person that she was in Pride and Prejudice. Despite these changes, Mary is fairly certain that she is destined to a life of spinsterhood and as a result, she is completely at a loss when Henry Walsh seems to be courting her with the intention to marry.
I think it was very risky of Mingle to take on one of romance fan’s favourite books and in the end I did enjoy reading this sequel to Pride and Prejudice. It’s been quite some time since I read P&P, unless you want to count Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so I didn’t feel like Mingle was committing sacrilege by trying to mimic Austen. While I don’t think Mingle’s style was exact to Austen’s, I did feel that Mingle gives us an updated version of what contemporary readers would like to see. There is more explicit discussion of character’s feelings, which I appreciated. For example, readers are made completely aware of how Mary feels towards Henry and towards her family. This slight change in emotional depth was well executed and I think it will encourage readers who are not fans of the classics.
Overall, I enjoyed this quick peek back into the lives of some beloved characters. While I think there will be readers that complain that Mingle doesn’t stay completely true to Pride and Prejudice I think people need to remember that this is a writer in the twenty-first century and her perspective is going to be different from Austen who was writing in a different time. I think anyone who likes fan based explorations of the classics, will be sure to enjoy this ode to Pride and Prejudice.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. (less)
Across a Star-Swept Sea is a companion novel to Peterfreund’s For the Darkness Shows the Stars. Both novels have been based on classics, bringing them...moreAcross a Star-Swept Sea is a companion novel to Peterfreund’s For the Darkness Shows the Stars. Both novels have been based on classics, bringing them into a futuristic world. For the Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I loved, and I was pretty excited to learn that Peterfreund was coming back to this world. Across a Star-Swept Sea is also based on a classic, The Scarlet Primpernel, meaning that we have spies in this one!
Persis Blake is an empty-headed socialite, or that is what she wants everyone to think. In reality Persis has developed this persona to protect her alter ego – the Wild Poppy. As the Wild Poppy, Persis rescues persecuted aristos from the neighbouring island, Galatea. On a mission that does not go quite according to plan, Persis is rescued by medic, Justen Helo – a descendant of a famous scientist that discovered the cure for the Reduction, a mental incapacity that emerged as a result of too much genetic engineering. Justen takes his chance in helping Persis to escape to her home island of Albion so he can have access to a lab and atone for the repercussions of the drug he created, which has been used by his tyrant of an uncle.
To establish a viable reason for Justen to be in Albion and to avoid war with Galatea, Persis and Justen are ordered to have a well-publicized romantic relationship. The more time Persis spends with Justen the more she realizes how much she truly wants this relationship to become real; however, Justen views her as no more than a shallow aristocrat. Persis longs to show Justen the real her (including her more than significant brains), but then she discovered that she may not be able to trust him.
This was a fairly decent sequel to For the Darkness Shows the Stars. I enjoyed the story line and the world building was pretty darn awesome. I loved that in this one reader’s got to “see” different points of view from the main characters. That was my one complaint in Darkness Shows the Stars; we only ever heard what Elliot was thinking and I would have loved to see an alternative point of view from Kai. I was very happy that things changed in Star-Swept Sea, and I think that it complimented the spy plot perfectly.
The political conflict in Star-Swept Sea was a little bit of a surprise for me. From the cover description I really did expect more of a teen-romance type read, but this one was heavy on the political intrigue. At times I did find the political happenings to be a tad confusing, but once I got comfortable with the world I started to better understand what was going on.
In the end, this was another great addition to an intriguing futuristic world and I really hope that we get more from Peterfreund. And I would not mind seeing more of Elliot and Kai in a new addition to this world – their little cameo in Star-Swept Sea was not nearly enough!(less)
Longbourn is a historical novel that's been receiving a lot of buzz and made the October 2013 LibraryReads list. Naturally after hearing that Longbour...moreLongbourn is a historical novel that's been receiving a lot of buzz and made the October 2013 LibraryReads list. Naturally after hearing that Longbourn is a return to Pride and Prejudice I was intrigued. The fact that Longbourn focuses on the servant staff was another added layer that promised for an interesting take on a classic. Generally, when an author takes on a classic, it's tough to beat. People view the classics as timeless, and Pride and Prejudice is no exception; people don't want you messing with such literature. However, Longbourn is a fabulous return to the classic novel and I think fans of Austen will enjoy it and I think there's also a lot here that will appeal to those who aren't fans of Pride and Prejudice. Ultimately, Longbourn is it's own novel, a separate entity from the classic and if you recognize this, you will be delighted.
Sarah is a young housemaid working for the Bennett family at Longbourn. Mrs. Hill, the housekeeper, took her in as a child and has taught her everything she knows. Unfortunately, Sarah is not content with her lot in life; she yearns for more, she wants her world to be larger than her existence in the countryside. Sarah's monotonous days seem to be at and end when two things happen: first, the arrival of a new footman, James, and second, the Bingley's have come to town, bringing with them a handsome young servant, Ptolemy, who quite intrigues Sarah. Suddenly, Sarah's life seems a whole lot larger and she's almost swept off her feet by Ptolemy and his grand plans, if it weren't for James and his convincing her to stay at Longbourn.
Longbourn is beautifully written, the pages flow by with it's simple and powerful language. And this simplicity changes how you look back on Pride and Prejudice. It's not the flowery language that you encounter in other romantic historicals because readers are focused on those are behind the scenes in those novels. Sarah's not waiting for her Mr. Darcy, she's not dressed elegantly in the hopes of catching a spouse, in stead she's happy for the cast offs of the Bennett sisters. Sarah's not educated like the Bennett ladies, and this lack of education shows in her language and what she's allowed to say in comparison to gently bred young ladies of the time. This alternative viewpoint did take away some of the romance of Pride and Prejudice, it had to. Being a servant isn't romantic work, and Sarah resents having to wash Elizabeth Bennett's dresses after she's trudged all over the countryside. This picture of Elizabeth being different from other young women seems romantic in Pride and Prejudice, but in Longbourn you can see the consequences of Elizabeth's eccentricities and how it impacts those around her. I certainly think of Pride and Prejudice differently after reading Longbourn, and it's certainly not a bad thing.
What I also loved about Longbourn was Sarah's relationship with James. James is such a mystery; there's obvious some dark secret in his past and a reason why he showed up at Longbourn of all places. Sarah was a perfect counter to the serious James. Sarah was a dreamer and willing to take a risk on him even though it was likely a bad idea. This was a quiet romance and I loved it. I think some could claim that the conclusion was overly optimistic and unrealistic; however, I think what readers know of Sarah and her dreams of more, it's understandable of her to leave a good position and seek out what she wants. Sarah is ahead of her time and unwilling to compromise on what she wants in her determined and quiet way. She was a great character, and in her own way, reminded me of an Elizabeth Bennett, which may have been the authors intent all along.
Overall, Longbourn was a fantastic read. It was quick to get through, the story and the characters were compelling and the historical details were interesting. I recommend it to historical fiction fans, but especially those who like Downton Abbey and the contrast between the upper and serving class.
On a final note, for those who are disappointed that Mary Bennett didn't get her happy ending, you should check out Pamela Mingle's The Pursuit of Mary Bennett, which is due out in November 2013.There's not serving class point of view here, but readers get to see into Mary's head and find out if she get's her happy ending, and I always thought she deserved one.
A review copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. A review with read-alikes is available here.(less)
I was basically guaranteed to love this one since it was inspired by Austen's Persuasion (my all time favourite Austen novel). For Darkness Shows the...moreI was basically guaranteed to love this one since it was inspired by Austen's Persuasion (my all time favourite Austen novel). For Darkness Shows the Stars begins with Elliot North trying to save the North estate from falling into ruin. Elliot's father has just destroyed a wheat crop that Elliot genetically enhanced, something that goes against her Luddite upbringing. In order to offset the loss in profits, Elliot decides to rent out the shipyard that is in her sick grandfather's possession. Little does Elliot realize that this will bring her childhood sweetheart, Kai, home to the farm. Kai's return will cause Elliot to question her beliefs as a Luddite and the importance that advancement in technology has in society. What follows is basically identical to the plot of Austen's Persuasion.
Overall, I enjoyed the concept of a Luddite society and ruling class; however, I would have been interested to see the plot move a little more away from Persuasion. As a fan of the inspiration, I found that the plot was predictable because it was so similar. However, I think it would be a great way to get teens interested in the classics like Austen. (less)