Monday, 29 March 2021

Five Daughers Out at Once by Jayne Bamber - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

I’m really pleased to welcome Jayne Bamber back to Babblings of a Bookworm with her new Pride & Prejudice variation, Five Daughters Out at Once. I love that Jayne comes up with ideas that I haven’t seen anywhere else before and this book is no exception. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Jayne for a guest post.

Book Cover: Five Daughters Out at Once by Jayne Bamber
Book Description

After the untimely death of their parents, Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters are left to make their own way in the world, and the dubious decision to stay at Longbourn until they are forced out leads to chaos and confrontation two years later, when their cousin Mr. Collins comes to claim his inheritance.

Hot on his heels is his noble patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a woman consumed by grief of her own after the loss of her husband and daughter in a terrible fire at her estate, Rosings Park. While her nephew Mr. Darcy is shocked by his aunt’s interest in the five orphaned girls, her niece Georgiana thinks it just the thing to soothe the dowager’s low spirits. Moved by the bonds of sorrow and a shared contempt of Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine offers the Bennet sisters her protection and assistance in society – and what better way to help them than to find them all rich husbands?

Much to her chagrin, Lady Catherine is not the only one to meddle in Meryton’s marriage mart – Richard Fitzwilliam joins her, at leisure to make mischief, Charlotte Lucas, now an heiress in her own right, has a secret of her own, and Georgiana Darcy finds herself inspired to write a novel that will document – and change – the lives of her new friends.

Tensions rise between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy as they both bristle at Lady Catherine’s plans – for very different reasons. Misapprehension and misunderstandings abound and plans go awry as the great lady rents Netherfield Park and hosts a horde of single gentlemen in possession of good fortunes, who must be in want of wives.

Will the Bennet sisters find love and happiness? What other Austen heroes and rakes might appear in the once dull village of Meryton? Will Darcy and Lizzy overcome the obstacles of their own making?

Friday, 26 March 2021

Dangerous Magic: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Monica Fairview - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I’m happy to be welcoming author Monica Fairview back to the blog with her latest release, Dangerous Magic: A Pride and Prejudice Variationwhich mixes Pride & Prejudice with some magic! First I’ll share the blurb with you, and then hand over to Monica for a guest post and excerpt from the novel.

Book Cover: Dangerous Magic: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Monica Fairview
Book Description

A sparkling tale of Regency England, a forced marriage, and two magicians who must work together to save the Kingdom. 

Elizabeth Bennet is stunned when the Royal Mages come to her peaceful country home of Longbourn to take her away. She is even more bewildered when she is commanded to marry a powerful mage by the name of Fitzwilliam Darcy. She has always dreamed of marrying for love, and an arranged marriage with an arrogant stranger was never part of her plans. 

But Darcy and Elizabeth have no choice in the matter. Uniting their two forms of magic is essential if the Kingdom is to defeat Napoleon’s mages. They may dislike each other on sight, but Darcy and Elizabeth have to overcome their differences and find common ground before it is too late. Fortunately, it is not long before the sparks begin to fly between them.

Join the author of ‘Fortune and Felicity’ in this Jane Austen Fantasy Variation, an enchanting story of determination, love, and hope against all odds.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress – Blog Tour, Author Interview and Giveaway

Book cover: Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress
I’m very happy to be welcoming a new visitor to the blog today. Gailie Ruth Caress has published a book called Fearful Symmetry: A Pride & Prejudice Variaion with Quills and Quartos, and the blog tour for the book visits here today. Let’s take a look at the blurb and then we’ll move on to an interview with the author. There’s also a giveaway to accompany the blog tour. Read on for details!

Book Description 

Darcy had never known such a woman, one who could rush into an inferno and emerge as bold and brilliant as burnished brass, bright as any mirror.

Fitzwilliam Darcy had planned to leave Netherfield Park and all thoughts of the enchanting Miss Elizabeth Bennet behind him—until one night when he saw smoke rising from Longbourn and realised she was imperiled.

Elizabeth Bennet found Mr Darcy arrogant and insufferable right up until he became her hero, pulling her and her sister from the fire that devastated their home, and could have claimed both of their lives. Seeing how he put his own life at risk to pull her from the fire, how could she help but change her opinion of him?

Thrown together again in the refuge offered at Netherfield, Darcy and Elizabeth’s unexpected bond gains strength. But disapproval, debts, and doubts all arise when the costs in time and expense involved in rebuilding Longbourn threaten to widen the gulf in standing between Elizabeth and Darcy in the eyes of society. Amidst these perplexities of destruction and decorum, can love’s courage overcome calamity?

Author Gailie Ruth Caress
Author Interview with Gailie Ruth Caress

Thank you for having me here, Ceri! I feel so honored to be invited to come visit for an author interview.

I’ll do my best to be a good guest and behave myself. **Sits and pours some tea** Let me see if I can tackle these good questions on your list!

1. What inspired your Pride and Prejudice variation?

In 2012 when I began to write Fearful Symmetry, I was still actively processing what felt like the rather abrupt end to my carefree youth. My excellent father had passed away from a long and rough battle with cancer just a few years prior, when I was twenty-one years old—very close to Elizabeth Bennet’s age in Pride & Prejudice. In the weeks and months after his death, I graduated college and entered the workforce during the 2009 US economic recession. It was a rough year to say the least, and I felt like I’d had to hurry up and finish becoming a fully-fledged adult very quickly, and without a lot of support or stability. In Fearful Symmetry, the housefire that guts Longbourn in its early chapters similarly catapults Elizabeth out of her idyllic, sheltered life as a young country miss, and she must rise to new responsibilities and open her eyes to a deeper understanding of the real challenges of the world she inhabits. It’s ultimately a coming-of-age tale for her, and it served as a bit of “narrative therapy” for me!

The title of my novel comes from a line in a poem called “The Tyger,” a work pulled from William Blake’s collection called “Songs of Experience,” which he wrote as a counter-themed collection to his “Songs of Innocence.” Fittingly, the journey Elizabeth takes in my novel not only borrows from some of the fiery imagery from “The Tyger” (hello, housefire!), but it also moves her into a brand-new world of experience, and out of the innocence of her halcyon days at Longbourn.

This was a story I would compose in spurts and then set aside—sometimes for years at a time. But there was something healing for me in the experience of writing this new path for Elizabeth. The worlds and characters of Jane Austen feel “safe” to us since they are known and familiar, and I think that sense of safety helped me to gather courage as a writer to explore some of the more difficult parts of my own life within these fictional confines. Because I know, in Elizabeth’s world, I can count on making my way towards a resolution with a happy ending even when my own might be far more uncertain.

I think this form of narrative “therapy” worked; finishing the manuscript for this novel under pandemic lockdown definitely helped me retain some hope for the days to come!

2. Besides Jane Austen, what other books are your favorites and why?

I should start off by saying I’m a long-time fan of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South. I also survived my angst in middle school reading Jane Eyre; and then in high school, when I wasn’t working my way through The Lord of the Rings, I was diving into postmodern gothic-inspired works like Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire) and Thomas Harris’s (Silence of the Lambs) novels.

I really loved Gaskell and Bront√ę’s narrative voices, which convey their leading characters’ keen emotional self-awareness without being cloying. I was fascinated by Tolkien’s world-building. And I was constantly in awe of Rice and Harris’s story craft. Each of their books’ plotlines feel like a rollercoaster! They launch the reader out of their seat with some kind of revelation or action sequence in the very first chapter, then the middle-plot develops a steep and unstable arc of conflict and growth, and finally the whole tale just rolls downhill at a gathering pace towards a breathless ending each time. It’s mesmerizing. Harris in particular knows how to pace his pages, and he never wastes a word.

3. What do you do when you are not reading or writing?

Right now, I am taking care of my two wild little boys, ages five and two, which is my main daily challenge as a mom. You might also find me trying not to fall on my face at Jazzercise class (yes, Jazzercise! I’m a former show-choir kid and musical theatre geek, so I fit right in). Sometimes I sew, bake, help people build websites, and sing. My husband is a pastor in a rural church, so I help organize church events and children’s ministry, gather community resources for folks in the margins, and sometimes lead Bible studies for adults that let me be nerdy in my hermeneutics by pulling in socio-historic and linguistic context for scripture. And that last bit involves me researching, which I also love to do. I’ll be looking to return to the work force in some form or other in 2021, but I’m grateful I could stay home during this terrible pandemic so my whole family could literally survive the virus (since we all had it in November, and it was awful!).

4. Do you have any plans for a second book?

Oh yes, but it’s not a sequel, if that’s what you mean. I’m trying to be secretive about it. I suppose I could tell you that it’s a “crossover” between two of Austen’s works—but I won’t give away which ones! I’m also working on a short story woven out of some side-plot threads I had cut away from Fearful Symmetry. I admit I have a soft spot for gothic tropes, and they’ll appear in this shorter tale featuring a bit of the paranormal. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Thank you so much for having me by to chat today! I really enjoyed this interview!

* * * 

I hope you enjoyed this interview, because I certainly did! 

I think all our experiences shape us but some big experiences are like a milestone in our lives that we can see as life changing when we look back, there is us before the event and a different us afterwards. It's amazing to me that Gailie Ruth has weaved her loss into something as creative and lasting as a book.

I am so glad Gailie Ruth told us about her reading habits, too, because that’s something I always find interesting. I have actually read all the books she mentioned, most of them more than once! Big thanks to Kristi from Quills and Quartos for her input to this post ūüėä

If you are wondering about the poem, I am sure you will recognise it. Here is the first stanza:

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I am not a big one for poetry, but I love this one, it’s very dramatic! I know it's written by Englishman William Blake but if I read it aloud I go full on Welsh sounding. I think it's something we learn at school here, if we read poetry we all sound like Dylan Thomas!

Author Bio

Gailie Ruth Caress, author of Fearful Symmetry, never dreamed of writing a debut novel in her own pleasure-reading genre when she was a no-nonsense, 4.0-chasing English major who won prizes for her academic essays at Hanover College in her home state of Indiana. Forced to readily adapt after a pivotal loss in early adulthood, she became a dabbler in many forms of expression and relationship-building—from opera and ballroom dance to nonprofit education and mentoring. And yet, she committed mid-Pandemic to the challenge of completing the manuscript of the story that kept her up at night, driven by a need to borrow from the courageous vulnerability of her favorite Jane Austen couple in a landscape transformed by disaster.

Her everyday life continues to hold unexpected adventures. Her two small boys and a duo of sassy tabby cats run wild on the Illinois prairie around a parsonage, where they keep her busy alongside rural community and ministry work with her pastor-husband. Learn more about Gailie Ruth at gailieruthwrites.com.

Book cover: Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress
Buy Links

Fearful Symmetry is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It’s also available in audio!

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

Giveaway Time 

Quills and Quartos are giving away an ebook of Fearful Symmetry to a commenter on this post. They will choose the winner on 19 March.

If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)


Blog Tour Schedule

Visit the other stops on the blog tour to learn more about Fearful Symmetry.

Blog Tour: Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress

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Monday, 1 March 2021

Jane Austen's Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd by Zoe Wheddon - My Review

Happy St David’s Day to you all! St David is the patron saint of Wales, in case you don’t know. Traditionally the children would dress up in traditional Welsh costume, or otherwise wear Welsh rugby shirts. Most schools would hold an ‘Eisteddfod’ and the children would sing, dance, and compete in the arts such as singing, painting/collage, and most importantly, poetry, as the author of the winning poem gets crowned bard. The youngest school children in Wales are now back in school so I am pleased to think that at least there will be children dressing up today on our route back to normality!

Blog Tour: Jane Austen's Best Friend by Zoe Wheddon
Today, I’m bringing you my review of a book about an important person in Jane Austen’s life. Jane Austen's Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd by Zoe Wheddon looks at the life and influence of Martha Lloyd on Jane. Let’s look at the blurb and then we’ll move on to what I thought of the book.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Death in Highbury by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Death in Highbury by Riana Everly
I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog with her latest Miss Mary Investigates book, Death in Highbury. As the name suggests, Mary Bennet goes to pay Emma Woodhouse a visit. We have a guest post from Riana, and an excerpt of Death in Highbury. There’s a giveaway too! Read on for details.

Book Description

When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.

Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!

Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The Year in Between by Christina Morland - Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Christina Morland to the blog, and I am particularly happy about this for two reasons. Firstly, although I’ve reviewed two books that she has contributed to, the Quill Ink anthologies, Elizabeth: Obstinate, HeadstrongGirl and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentleman Rogues, I haven’t had the pleasure of welcoming her to Babblings of Bookworm until now. 

The other reason that I’m pleased to be welcoming Christina is that although her latest book is Austenesque, it’s not based on Pride & Prejudice, but Sense & Sensibility, which is exciting, as there are so few stories based on S&S. This story, The Year in Between, takes a look at a period right at the end of S&S, where Elinor has married and before Marianne does. For those of you who like to immerse yourself in a nice long book I have the good news that this over 700 pages :)

Let’s look at the blurb and then hand over to Christina for an excerpt, which I think you will really enjoy. She’s also offering a giveaway to a commenter on this blog post.

Book Cover: The Year in Between by Christina Morland
Book Description 

Marianne Dashwood was "born to an extraordinary fate...to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favorite maxims" (Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility). After Willoughby's betrayal, how did Marianne learn to see Colonel Brandon—and herself—in a new light? And how did Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars fare during their first year of marriage?

The Year in Between explores the untold year in the last chapter of Sense and Sensibility. Whether you know Austen's novel well, or this is your first introduction to Elinor, Marianne, Edward, and Brandon, I invite you to visit Delaford, where friendship, love, and all the challenges that come with these gifts abound.

Please note: The Year in Between is a novel that I hope affirms the beauty of love, community, friendship, and family. However, there is at least one storyline that may cause distress in readers who have experienced loss. (There are no graphic descriptions of violence or sex in this novel, if those are areas of concern for you.) If you would like specific details before continuing to read, please visit my author biography on Amazon or the Author's Note in the opening pages of the book. A link to more information is included in both locations.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Lover's Meeting by Catherine Lodge - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book Cover: Lover's Meeting by Catherine Lodge
I’m really happy to be welcoming Catherine Lodge back to the blog with her new Pride & Prejudice variation, Lover’s Meeting .I can’t believe it’s been over 3 years since her last visit, with Fair Stands the Wind, it seems like yesterday!

Let's look at the blurb and then I'll share an excerpt of Lover's Meeting with you. There's also an ebook giveaway, so read on for more details. 

Book Description

‘Journeys end in lovers’ meetings, every wise man’s son doth know.’ — William Shakespeare

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the disastrous first meeting of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly provided each with a ready-made set of prejudices to apply to the other. But when a horrific rural accident reveals Darcy to be a man of active, intelligent benevolence, and Elizabeth, in the absence of her appalling family, to be an extraordinary lady of courage and decision—then surely the course of true love will run smoothly.   

But alas, the lovers’ meeting is not the end but a new beginning. For though they have found each other, a seeming multitude of complications—a catastrophic flood, the last wishes of a dying friend, Lydia’s misfortunes, a dastardly Member of Parliament, and even their own fears— contrives to come between them and their ‘journey’s end.’

Monday, 1 February 2021

Nine Ladies by Heather Moll - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book Cover: Nine Ladies by Heather Moll
I’m really happy to be welcoming Heather Moll back to the blog. Heather has a new Pride & Prejudice variation out! Nine Ladies is a variation featuring time travel. I’ll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Heather for an excerpt from the book. There’s also the opportunity to win an ebook. Read on for more details.

Book Description

The Darcy family has grudgingly kept the secret about the power contained within a nearby stone circle called Nine Ladies. Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to contend with this secret when a young woman from the future appears at Pemberley. Until the opinionated stranger can return to when she belongs, Darcy is responsible not only for her safety, but also for ensuring that nothing she does threatens Pemberley’s well-being.

Elizabeth Bennet has returned to England to take care of her estranged father, and her life was off track long before she walked into that stone circle at sunset. She quickly discovers that, as a poor and single woman, she’ll have to rely on the arrogant Mr. Darcy. She tries her best to survive in the nineteenth-century until she can return home but, as she and Darcy grow closer, the truth she knows about his and Pemberleys bleak future becomes harder to keep.

How can Darcy and Elizabeth overcome 200 years of differences in this era-spanning love story?

Monday, 25 January 2021

Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again by Elaine Jeremiah - Excerpt and Giveaway

Book Cover: Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again by Elaine Jeremiah
I’m happy to be welcoming Elaine Jeremiah back to the blog today. Elaine has joined us with her new Pride & Prejudice variation, Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again. She has an excerpt for us to enjoy, plus she’s also offering a giveaway for two lucky commenters on the post. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Elaine.

Book Description

Little does Elizabeth Bennet think the journey across muddy fields from her home at Longbourn to Netherfield Park will change her life forever. 

But an unexpected encounter with the proud and haughty Mr Darcy leaves her injured and vulnerable. Worse still, she is left alone with him for a significant amount of time. Her reputation at risk, she is forced to make a decision about her future. Now her life will never be the same again.

Can Elizabeth ever be happy? Or will she always loathe Mr Darcy?

Monday, 18 January 2021

Determination by C P Odom - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour: Determination by C P Odom
I’m happy to be welcoming C P Odom back to Babblings of a Bookworm with his latest book, Determination. This is a Pride & Prejudice variation with a lot of Colonel Fitzwilliam by the sound of it, which I know will please a lot of people. Meryton Press are also offering a giveaway to accompany the blog tour. Read on for an excerpt of Determination and details on how to enter to win an ebook.

Book cover: Determination by C P Odom
Book Description

“Love at first sight” was, in the considered opinion of Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, simply a laughable concept, not one that occurred in real life. Certainly not in the life of an experienced man-of-the-world such as himself. 

This was so patently obvious, based on his own experiences and observations, that he had given it little thought. It was, after all, a fanciful concept emanating from the new romantic literature written exclusively for the diversion of the fairer sex. In fact, until he observed the smitten nature of his cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, he would not have been certain that such an emotion as true, fervent love existed at all. Marriage was a matter of money, social standing, and property, an arrangement far too critical to be influenced by transitory emotional attachments.

But his cousin had become quite besotted with a lovely but quite penniless daughter of a Hertfordshire gentleman and had determined that he must make her his wife. Unfortunately, due to his emotions overcoming his normal good judgement, he had made an incredible botch of his offer of marriage. It should have been a simple affair to accomplish, given his wealth and position, but he had bungled it badly, and Fitzwilliam had dutifully set about trying to untangle the muddled threads of his affections for Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Then his own world became almost as chaotic when he made the accidental acquaintance of Miss Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s beloved elder sister. Seized by emotions he would have previously deemed impossible for such a level-headed person as himself, he found himself facing a commander of a regiment of His Majesty’s Dragoons, he faced different but equally substantial obstacles as his cousin. Only a man of true determination would be able to find a path through such impassible, thorny undergrowth.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Fallen by Jessie Lewis - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Fallen by Jessie Lewis
I’m very happy to be welcoming Jessie Lewis back to the blog with the blog tour for her latest Pride & Prejudice variation, Fallen, which is released today. Let’s take a look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Jessie for an excerpt from the book. Quills and Quartos are also offering a giveaway of an ebook of Fallen to a commenter on this blog post. Read on for details.

Book Description

The air was all gone, and coldness overtook her, as though she had fallen into icy water and was sinking into the blackness. Her stomach churned, as it was wont to do these days. He would not marry her. She was ruined.

THE ARRIVAL OF TWO ELIGIBLE GENTLEMEN at Netherfield Park sends ripples of excitement through nearby Meryton. But Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy are not the only additions to the neighbourhood raising eyebrows. An unremarkable cottage in the woods between Netherfield and Meryton also has new tenants. One of them—a lively little girl with an adventurous spirit, a love of the outdoors, and a past shrouded in mystery—draws the notice of more than one local.

ELIZABETH BENNET—YOUNG, INTELLIGENT, and UNFASHIONABLY INDEPENDENT—forms a poor first impression of the haughty Mr Darcy. On closer acquaintance, and against her better judgment, her disgust begins to give way to more tender feelings. Yet standing in the way of any potential romance is the closely guarded history of a certain little girl in a cottage in the woods. Elizabeth might be ready to disclose her hidden affections, but she is about to learn that some things are better kept secret, and some hearts are safer left untouched.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Review of 2020 – My Pick of the Year

Bye bye 2020
Happy New Year to you all! 2020 was really quite a year, wasn’t it! Unprecedented in so many ways. While New Year’s Eve is never an event I look forward to (because deep down I want to go to one of those huge, swanky 1980s parties that you see in films, like the one in When Harry Met Sally) I actually love the New Year itself, as it’s such a time for reflection and hope for the future.

I found 2020 a mixed bag because on the one hand it was very trying; the stress, the worry about one of us potentially catching Covid and becoming really ill, the home-schooling, the isolation, the worry about the potential effect on my kids’ mental health from being away from school for months, all took a burden on my mental energy. Like many people, I spent the majority of the year feeling like a wrung out dishcloth! I also found working at home while the kids were homeworking really difficult, so hard to concentrate! This meant by the end of the day I was pretty much only good for zombie time in front of the television.

On the other hand, I don’t think I have ever had a year when I have spent so much time feeling grateful for what I have – mine and my family’s continued good health, our lovely home, the fact that I have a job which continued to employ me right through the pandemic and allowed me to stay at home, meaning that I didn’t have to send my children to the hub schools for keyworkers. I was so grateful for the company of my family too, that I wasn’t living alone. Although I became sick and tired of walking in my local area, I also appreciated that we have green space close to where we live to walk around. So, although I found 2020 taxing I also found it a very rewarding year in some ways.

However, one way in which 2020 was entirely dreadful was the effect on my reading. If I am stressed I find it difficult to immerse myself in the written word. My audio reading time was cut overnight to pretty much zero as I used to listen on my commute and during solo lunchtime walks in my work lunch hour, and I lost both of those times. I didn’t get anywhere near my modest reading target for 2020. This is something that I need to rectify in 2021, I want to read more this year.

Although I didn’t get anywhere near as much reading done as I wanted, in terms of quality of reading, I was lucky, because the books I did get to read were good ones! So here’s my pick of the year:

Book cover: Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom
First up was Thaw by Anniina Sj√∂blom. This is a forced marriage scenario which diverges early on from Pride & Prejudice. Here, Elizabeth marries Mr Darcy after a compromise, which was entirely innocent. It’s told in the form of letters from the new Mrs Darcy to various people, and we see her icy relationship with her husband begin to ‘thaw’. I thought this was a wonderfully charming story, and you can read my 5 star review of it here.


Book cover: 1932: Pride & Prejudice Revisited by Karen M Cox
My next 5 star read was 1932: Pride & Prejudice Revisited by Karen M Cox. This was the second edition of the book, and it’s had a number of improvements to an already excellent story. This is a P&P inspired story set in 1932 in Kentucky. Mr Darcy is a well-to-do farmer, and the Bennets have moved to the same town, having fallen on hard times. The thing I probably enjoyed most about this story is Mr Darcy, who first manages to delude himself as to his feelings, and then lets his pride get in the way. You can read my full review of the second edition of1932 here.


Book cover: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
Miss Austen by Gill Hornby is a story about Jane Austen’s elder sister Cassandra. This lady, as you may know, undertook an editing of the documents left after Austen’s death. In this story we see Cassandra visiting a family connection in order to try and get hold of letters that Jane would have sent some 20 years ago before they are re-discovered. While finding the letters Cassandra looks back at the events laid out in the letters. I absolutely loved this story, and heartily recommend it as a 5 star read. You can read my review of Miss Austen here.


Book cover: Sanctuary Part 1 by Cat Andrews
Now for a complete change of scene – modern times in New England! Sanctuary by Cat Andrews is a Pride & Prejudice flavoured modern read rather than adhering closely to the plot of P&P. It tells the story of two people who have been hurt by life in different ways and have moved to an island off the coast of Maine for a fresh start. Elizabeth Bennet moved there to make a new life after the end of an abusive marriage, Will Darcy and his son Jack are making a new start after the death of Jack’s mother. It’s a story in 3 parts. You can see my 5 star review of the first part of Sanctuary here. I read all three books but haven’t posted reviews of part 2 and 3 yet.


Book cover: A Wilful Misunderstanding by Amy D'Orazio
The last of my 5 star reads in 2020 was Amy D’Orazio’s A Wilful Misunderstanding which is a Pride & Prejudice variation. Here Elizabeth and Darcy didn’t get off to a bad start, but instead married after a whirlwind romance. When doubts are planted in Darcy’s mind about his wife’s fidelity a rupture is caused between the couple. When they meet again a few years later there is a lot of lost ground to be made up. This is a story with a good pinch of angst which kept me glued to the page! You can read my review of the story here.


Book cover: Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl anthology edited by Christina Boyd
Given that my concentration wasn’t up to much in 2020, the anthology Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl made for nice, small reading chunks. This anthology brought together short stories from some of my favourite Austenesque authors, edited by Christina Boyd. They were all inspired by the heroine of P&P. Some explored variations on Austen’s story, others took Elizabeth to another time. You can read my 4½ star review of the anthology here.


Book cover: Being Mrs Darcy by Lucy Marin
I love a forced marriage scenario, and Being Mrs Darcy by Lucy Marin is a fresh take on it. So often Mr Darcy is madly in love and Elizabeth hates him. Here, the couple meet earlier, when Georgiana visits Ramsgate. Impulsively intervening in a twilight meeting of Georgiana and Mr Wickham, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are strangers, forced to marry. You can read my 4½ star review here.


Book cover: Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants
With Kara Pleasants’ Disenchanted we find ourselves in a Pride & Prejudice variation set in a world where magic exists! I loved how magic was intertwined with several of the events and characters of P&P, and there are also some mysteries to unravel. This was a 4½ star read for me, and you can read my review here.

In another change of scene, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner takes us to Chawton, Jane Austen’s last home, just after WWII. In this story, a group of otherwise disparate people are brought together by their love of Austen in order to save her home for future generations. This was a story that really drew me in. You can read my 4½ star review of it here. If you choose to read it and like the audio format, please note that the audio of this book is narrated by Richard Armitage!


Book cover: A Timely Elopement by Joana Starnes
The last of my pick of the year is A Timely Elopement by Joana Starnes which picks up at Hunsford Parsonage. Mr Darcy is proposing, but just as Elizabeth is about to reply they are interrupted by the news of an elopement and the story takes a turn. This was a lovely story, which took turns that I wasn’t expecting, always refreshing in the a variation of P&P when you have read so many! I rated this as a 4½ star read and you can read my review here.

So, this is my pick of 2020! I recommend each and every one of these books to you if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading them already.

How was your 2020? Please let me know in the comments! If you’d like to recommend one of your 2020 reads to please do! I have a rough idea of some of the books I’d like to read in 2021, but I am always open to suggestions!

Note about comments: If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

Also, if you're on Goodreads and you'd like to join an Austenesque readers' group, Sophia Rose has set up a group for 2021, the Austen Lovers TBR Challenge 2021. It's a lovely, welcoming group, but you will find your to be read list growing rather than shrinking!

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