Posted in Austen Reviews

review: Lost in Austen

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster A note beforehand: although released a year previously, this book has nothing to do with the 2008 TV Mini Series titled Lost in Austen (of which I knew nothing about until I Googled for a book image.) Book Description: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Austen heroine must be in want of a husband, and you are no exception. Your name: Elizabeth Bennet. Your mission: to marry both prudently and for love, avoiding family scandal. Equipped with only your sharp wit, natural good sense, and tolerable beauty, you must navigate your way through a variety of decisions that will determine your own romantic (and financial) fate. Ever wonder what…

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review: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle This full-length Austen continuation takes place a few years after the elder Bennet sisters had married and focuses on the most inconsequential sister, Mary. Having spent a good deal of time with Jane at her new home, High Tor, and Elizabeth at Pemberley, Mary had much improved her music and conversation skills, learning to curb her tongue and step outside her comfort zone. Mr. Bennet had accepted her as a fellow intellectual and had been challenging her to expand her reading and interests. As such, the new Mary–although still considered boorish by her two younger sisters–was a great deal more pleasing in the society of others. On a visit with Jane, she attracts a suitor, who is…

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review: A Twist of Fate & Forgiving Mr. Darcy

Just a fair warning—these reviews contain spoilers. It’s impossible to evaluate these short stories without discussing their strengths and inadequacies, in which case will give away the plot. There’s just not enough info to skirt around the edges, as would be the case for a novel-length book. A Twist of Fate by Brenda J. Webb This story imagines what takes place after the dreadful proposal in a scenario where Mr. Bennet has passed away and Longbourn has become the property of Mr. Collins. Mrs. Bennett, a sickly Jane, Elizabeth and the three younger sisters are living in cramped quarters near the Gardiners in London. They are very poor, and Elizabeth has taken on a position as a waiting lady to an elderly woman with an…

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Posted in 19th Century Austen First Line Friday

First Line Friday: 03/03/2017

“Sometimes anger is a living thing.” THE PURSUIT OF MARY BENNET by Pamela Mingle “A tale of love and marriage, society balls and courtship, class and a touch of scandal, Pamela Mingle’s The Pursuit of Mary Bennet is a fresh take on one of the most beloved novels of all time, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Growing up with four extraordinary sisters—beautiful and confident Jane and Elizabeth, and flirtatious and lighthearted Lydia and Kitty—wasn’t easy for an awkward bookworm like Mary Bennet. But with nearly all of her sisters married and gone from the household, the unrefined Mary has transformed into an attractive and eligible young woman in her own right. When another scandal involving Lydia and Wickham threatens the Bennet house, Mary and Kitty…

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review: Suddenly Mrs. Darcy

Suddenly Mrs. Darcy by Jenetta James This is a re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that begins at the Netherfield ball, where Elizabeth is found in a compromising situation with Mr. Darcy and she is forced by her parents to marry him. A reluctant, though curiously tame Elizabeth begins her new role with some hope of happiness, and it is many chapters in that there is true conflict in the story. This, however, proves to be the push it needed to become a page-turner. Some clues are placed in the storyline that eventually come to light, and conclude the tale satisfactorily. It is one of the few Austen variations that gives a complete account of the characters’ futures. The timeline is spot-on and the…

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review: The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams In the genre of Jane Austen variations, this is a particularly long tale, spanning the course of five years. It also stands out among its contemporaries because it’s a prequel of sorts. The author imagines Elizabeth Bennet at the age of 15 with a personality reminiscent of the character of Lydia, sans the officer obsession. Sent to live at Pemberley after her father’s death, Darcy tries (and fails) to make a ‘proper’ lady of Elizabeth, and much frustration, misunderstandings, humor and eventual admiration ensue. What seems a far-fetched and brow-raising plot actually turns into an intricate and plausible story, keeping the reader enthralled as many themes from the original are brought to light in an…

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Posted in 19th Century Austen Reviews

review: Mansfield Park Revisited

Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken I’ve not actually read Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, but I have seen a film adaptation and so I know the characters and the story (though I am sure with inaccuracies, as is the nature of movie vs. book). The Susan Price of this novel is a kind, unassuming and helpful person, eager to put people at ease and assist in making the household run smoothly. Her nemesis is her cousin Julia, who sees her as a lowly and reaching poor relation — a burden upon the family. In this story there are several different possible matches for Susan, and all are explored through a series of gatherings in which Susan helps plan and Julia attempts to force her…

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review: The Unthinkable Triangle

The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes This Pride & Prejudice variation imagines a scenario in which Colonel Fitzwilliam proposes to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford before Mr. Darcy has the chance to do so himself. Based primarily on his ensuing anguish, there are also chapters in the perspective of both (Richard) Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth. As a veteran Austen variation reader, I found the Elizabeth portrayed, while witty in parts, not quite the sparkling character I had anticipated. She seems unnaturally subdued when faced with the repercussions of her betrothal to a titled gentleman. There’s a much wider focus on Darcy’s journey, and if the author’s aim is to create the perfect gentleman, she definitely succeeded. Most of the characters–Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. & Mrs. Bennet,…

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Posted in 19th Century Austen Reviews

review: The Other Mr. Darcy

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview “I have spent such a long time trying to be a lady. But am I really one? Or is it only a mask that I wear, to cover up my awareness that I am not?” The character of Caroline Bingley has been redeemed in this highly readable, if somewhat fanciful, Austen continuation. The Other Mr. Darcy imagines a scenario in which an American cousin of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Robert Darcy, happens to visit and witnesses Caroline crying over the loss of her marriage prospects. Although this description may sound like the ingredients of a cheesy romance novel, the character of Miss Bingley is thoroughly explored and she satisfyingly evolves from Elizabeth Bennet’s adversary in the original to a…

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Posted in 19th Century Austen Reviews

review: Charlotte Collins

Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton Mr. Collins has suddenly passed away in an unfortunate riding accident, leaving Charlotte a widow in her mid-30’s. She invites her sister, Miss Maria Lucas, to live with her and use her as chaperone on outings within their group of acquaintances. Both Charlotte and Maria end up with two interested gentlemen—though Charlotte has made it quite clear she’s not looking for love—and the webs of intrigue begin. Becton’s Charlotte is a sober, though fallible character, and makes an easily admired protagonist. Maria takes a bit of warming up to, as she begins much like the younger Bennett sisters, flighty and silly. However, she grows up within the pages and by the end is well-regarded. The story line is not quite…

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review: Mr. Darcy’s Dream

Mr. Darcy’s Dream by Elizabeth Aston “All men say [they will be faithful] when they marry; they say that when it is May and the sun is shining and their hearts are full of love. But what happens in the dog days of August, or when Autumn winds begin to blow through the matrimonial home?” Such is the theme of this amusing, if unimaginative, Pride & Prejudice continuation. The one factor that sets it apart from other Austenesque novels I’ve read is that the author does not use any of the original characters except by mention. The premise of Mr. Darcy’s Dream is the building of an immense modernized greenhouse, along with other changes to the garden and landscape of Pemberley, supervised by his niece,…

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review: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange Wit, humor and suspense are what you will find in this unconventional Austen continuation from Amanda Grange. Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is a tale of what happens with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice characters, but with a supernatural twist. Elizabeth and Darcy abandon their scheduled honeymoon plans and head for the continent, much to Elizabeth’s bewilderment and excitement. But soon she finds there are problems, not only with their trip, but perhaps with their marriage. Through France, the darkest forests, the mountains of the Alps, Venice and southern Italy they travel, all the while being followed by a malevolent specter that, in Elizabeth’s mind, could be real or imagined. What happened to her image of the perfect married life with…

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