Posted in Austen Reviews

review: Pemberley Shades

Pemberley Shades: A Lightly Gothic Tale of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy by D.A. Bonavia-Hunt The cover art and subtitle of this book suggest a mysterious, sinister tone that I couldn’t detect. It is much like other Austen continuations in setting and characterization. It’s true that one of the main characters, Acworth, is strange and difficult to read. I knew from hints in the beginning his family situation and station in life, but his motivations are perplexing. A few new characters are thrown in — Wakeford, wounded soldier and friend of Darcy. Mortimer, who is a neighbor and temporary stand-in at the parsonage. Also the old Rector’s adult daughters make good antagonists by being a thorn in Mrs. Darcy’s side. Unfortunately you will not meet Caroline…

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Posted in Austen Author Guest Post

author guest post: Syrie James on Writing and Travels

Syrie James, author of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, discusses how her extensive travels have influenced her writing. My family and I lived in France for two years when I was a child, and by the time I was eight years old, I had visited 26 countries. It was an amazing education that I’ll never forget. I think that living abroad, seeing so many famous places, and experiencing so many different cultures at a young age, has shaped the way I view the world. It has given me a better understanding of all the varied peoples, customs, foods, and life styles on the planet, and deepened my appreciation for what it means to be an American. It also instilled in me a great love…

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Posted in Austen Reviews

review: A Pemberley Medley

A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds This volume contains five short stories based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice characters, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Some are continuations or alternate endings of the author’s existing variations, and one is a “dark” story. Abigail Reynolds is a fabulous Austen author and I have greatly enjoyed several of her books in the past year. This collection isn’t my favorite of her works, probably because they are too closely categorized as implausible due to the modern romantic style. Most of her other books keep more with the social proprieties of the era. Even so, the prose and engaging style shines through and are entertaining, quick reads. If you’re interested in Austen variations, I’d highly recommend beginning with one…

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Posted in 18th Century Austen Reviews

review: Jane Austen’s First Love

Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James At the age of fifteen, Jane Austen spends a summer holiday with her elder brother at his fiancé’s home in Kent. Five families come together to celebrate the upcoming nuptials and along the way many, including Jane, discover much about love and relationships. There she meets a young man who both exasperates and thrills her, leading her to learn life lessons that greatly encourage and influence her writing. Edward Taylor is, as the author has considerately detailed in her notes, a real person in Jane Austen’s life, for she mentions him in correspondence to her sister, Cassandra. Facts cleverly meshed with a pleasant series of youthful summer pursuits set the background for this fanciful tale, complete with a…

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Posted in Austen Author Interview

interview: Syrie James on Jane Austen’s First Love

JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST LOVE by Syrie James is available for purchase today, August 5, 2014! My review has been posted on GoodReads and will be featured on Historical-Fiction.com tomorrow. Author Syrie James has kindly answered some questions about her latest novel below. Your Jane derives her fiction from the world around her. Do you feel that the author actually borrowed heavily from her life experiences? In Jane Austen’s First Love, Jane does attempt a bit of Emma-like matchmaking, and towards the end of the book, she is inspired to write a short story loosely based on a pair of competitive and contentious sisters she meets. However, I don’t mean to imply that Austen derived all her fiction from the world around her. The novel itself…

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Posted in 19th Century Austen Regency Reviews

review: Darcy and Fitzwilliam

Darcy and Fitzwilliam A Tale of a Gentleman and an Officer by Karen V. Wasylowski This Austen continuation explores the first years of Darcy’s marriage, while Colonel Fitzwilliam searches for happiness after the horrors of Waterloo. Lady Catherine de Bourge plays a large part in this novel, though curiously not as the antagonist–that role is given over to Caroline Bingley, who continues to abuse Elizabeth even after she becomes Mrs. Darcy. While the story line is not too imaginative, the dialog between the characters is laugh-out-loud funny. I found the first part of the book to be charming and very readable, even if unbelievable at times. Unfortunately, the second half of the book was full of repetitive misunderstandings and maddening bullheadedness. The author definitely has…

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Posted in Austen Reviews

review: A Jane Austen Daydream

A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard “When one looks at life it is easy to get lost in big moments, losing simple days that pass by in a glance, unimportant except in counting down to other days and events. We only notice their loss when we wonder whither all the time disappeared. We may see the lost time in the eyes of grown children and the age on the face of our parents. The hard, inescapable truth is that it is forever gone, and man has yet to find a way to recover it.” This novel, full of anecdotes, does not come across as a transparent retelling, but rather an emotional journey that fits in perfectly with the known facts of Jane Austen’s…

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Posted in Austen Reviews Time Travel

review: Becoming Elizabeth Darcy

Becoming Elizabeth Darcy: A Time Travel Novel by Mary Lydon Simonsen Jane Austen fanatic, Elizabeth “Beth” Hannigan, is suffering from an illness and wakes up in the body of Elizabeth Darcy from Pride & Prejudice. What she first thinks is a dream, she begins to realize is more likely a sort of time warp and, once acclimated to her surroundings, believes she was sent to right a wrong in order to get home. Integrating her love of cooking and her germaphobe tendencies as one of the side effects of her recent illness, Beth introduces the Darcy family and staff to pizza, good hygiene and her 21st century occupation—massage. Once Darcy learns that his wife, Elizabeth, is most likely in another realm, he resigns himself to…

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Posted in 19th Century Austen Reviews

review: Mr. Darcy’s Obsession

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession by Abigail Reynolds This Pride & Prejudice variation explores what could have happened if Darcy had not proposed at Rosings and, with much personal turmoil on his mind that did not stem from his attachment to Elizabeth, cut all connections with the Bennets. When he happens upon Elizabeth in London, all of his feelings come rushing back and he finds he cannot stay away. Elizabeth’s life has taken a downhill turn. Her father passed away without settling any of his daughters with a proper dowry and they are living on the charity of others. Jane, having never reconnected with Bingley since Elizabeth and Darcy did not have the necessary conversation during the proposal scene in this version, married an aging shopkeeper to…

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Posted in Austen Reviews

review: Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister

Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson This Pride & Prejudice continuation begins just after the Darcys’ wedding and though not entirely in her perspective, is focused on Georgiana’s coming out year and hopeful wedding plans thereafter. A few new characters are introduced with the usual cast, and the storyline is full of plots, intrigue and humor. Georgiana at first is very shy and awkward, but after a very trying occurrence, begins to find her confidence and truly becomes the heroine of the story. Elizabeth normally plays this role, but she is swept into the background by this new Georgiana. During her coming out year—presentation at court, parties and other social events—Georgiana is determined on gaining the acceptance of Elizabeth with the women who…

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Posted in Austen Reviews

review: The Darcys Give a Ball

The Darcys Give a Ball: A Gentle Joke, Jane Austen Style by Elizabeth Newark This Pride & Prejudice continuation opens with a fascinating view of the Collins’ married life, a run-down of their children’s personalities and a look back at both Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas Collins during their youth. Mr. Collins may be one of the unsavory characters from the original, and is still with this depiction, but his childhood held many clues as to why he was so supercilious and staid. Their eventual move into Longbourn is not quite so upsetting to the Bennett women, as they were mostly settled by this time. With Lady Catherine de Bourgh having passed away a few years prior, there are no more connections between the Collins’…

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Posted in 19th Century Austen Reviews

review: Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman

Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton Imagine Pride & Prejudice from the point in the book where Elizabeth Bennet declines Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal at Hunsford, as he takes his leave and begins to wonder where he went wrong. This is the basis for this Austen variation, in which the characters come to the same end result, only not exactly as Austen wrote it and with more details. Darcy begins reexamining himself through with the words Elizabeth had flung at him regarding his behavior and demeanor. With his thoughts on righting the wrongs he had inflicted, he began his mission to reunite Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet, and in the process hoped to show Elizabeth that her opinion of…

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