Showing posts with label Sense & Sensibility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sense & Sensibility. Show all posts

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 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.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Adventure Awaits by Virginia Kohl - Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Adventure Awaits by Virginia Kohl
I’m pleased to be welcoming a new visitor to the blog today, author Virginia Kohl. Virginia has written two Austeneque books, which unusually are based on Sense & Sensibility. Of all the variations and sequels I have read, I think I’ve probably read the least based on S&S, so I’m really pleased to feature this book today. Adventure Awaits is a story about Margaret Dashwood. Virginia has visited us with an excerpt of the story and there’s also an ebook giveaway for those who get their ebooks from Let’s look at the blurb first.

Book Description

Beautiful, venturesome Margaret Dashwood, known to her family and friends as Daisy, has always dreamed of traveling to exotic locations. With her first Season behind her, those dreams are relegated to the stories she tells her niece.

Alexander Mallard, a handsome young doctor, came to the small village of Delaford straight out of medical school. With the knowledge and desire to help everyone, he soon settles into the life of a country physician.

The day Daisy and Alexander's paths cross, an adventure grander than either ever imagined begins.

Book cover: Adventure Awaits by Virginia Kohl

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Unexpected Friends & Relations by Jayne Bamber - Blog Tour - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book Cover: Unexpected Friends & Relations by Jayne Bamber
A few months ago I took part in Jayne Bamber's blog tour for Happier in Her Friends Than Relations, which featured characters from more of Austen's books than just Pride & Prejudice. When that book was released Jayne made it clear that there would be a sequel and I'm happy to tell you that this has now been released - Unexpected Friends & Relations. Jayne has popped in to visit us today with a guest post and giveaway, which is below.

I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Jayne. Just to warn you, though, that this book is a sequel; therefore the blurb and the excerpt could contain spoilers for book one and the guest post certainly does, so if you haven't read book one yet but would still like to enter the giveaway, scroll down quickly!

Book Description

Following their marriage and a cozy Christmas at Pemberley, Elizabeth & Fitzwilliam Darcy return to London with their family. As new dilemmas arise, the story shifts its focus to three of Austen’s beloved secondary characters, one of her less exalted heroines, a familiar villainess, and the fan-favorite original character Lady Rebecca.

Georgiana Darcy continues to suffer the consequences of her folly at Ramsgate, as well as the peril of following some well-intended but ill-advised counsel that jeopardizes her chance at true love.

Caroline Bingley, now unhappily married and desperate to salvage her position in society, takes on the arduous task of reforming her wild and willful young ward, though it’s anybody’s guess which of the two of them is in greater need of transformation.

Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam travels to Surrey on a mission of mercy, but she and her cousin Emma embroil one another, and many familiar faces in in area, in a web of romantic entanglements from which not everyone will escape unscathed.

Mary Bennet struggles with matters of morality and self-discovery, attempting to find good in the world, as well as her own place in it, but must do so on her own terms, always tip-toeing around the dramas and difficulties of those she loves.

Amidst the complex maneuverings of a diverse and demanding family, an unexpected heiress emerges, and with her rise in station come all the glittering delights of the fashionable world, as wells as the challenge of navigating the uncharted territories of high society, extended family, and even her own heart.

After attaining a Happily Ever After, the Darcys retreat into the background as their friends and relations purse destinies of their own. Equal measures of mishap and miracle result in several alternately paired couples, while some stories are left to be resolved in Book Three, and a wide array of Austen characters will make an appearance in this tale of six unlikely heroines.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Happier in Her Friends Than Relations by Jayne Bamber - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: Happier in Her Friends Than Relations by Jayne Bamber
Today I'm happy to be welcoming debut author Jayne Bamber, who has brought us a very interesting-sounding novel. Happier in Her Friends Than Relations is an Austenesque variation which features characters from both Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. Some of the characters are differently drawn to their canon counterparts, too. Interested? I bet you are :)

Let's have a look at the blurb and then I will hand over to Jayne Bamber for a guest post about her portrayal of Anne de Bourgh. There is also a chance of winning an ebook of Happier in Her Friends Than Relations for a commenter on this post.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

A Very Austen Valentine Story Anthology - Blog Tour

Blog Tour: A Very Austen Valentine
Today the blog tour for A Very Austen Valentine stops by. This is an anthology from the same four authors who brought us A Very Austen Christmas, plus another two authors! I am happy to bring you an author interview from 3 of the authors of the anthology. There's also an opportunity to enter a giveaway to win a copy of A Very Austen Valentine for yourself! Read on for more...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Holidays with Jane - Will You Be Mine - Guest Post by Author Jessica Grey and Giveaway

Book Cover: Holidays with Jane: Will You Be Mine?
As many of my long-time visitors will know, I've read a few of the 'Holidays with Jane' story anthologies. I think it's such a great concept for a series - take 6 authors, each writing a modernised short story of a different one of Austen's main stories and each book is based around a seasonal theme. This book, 'Holidays with Jane - Will You Be Mine?', is the sixth and final in the series and is themed around St Valentine's Day, hence our cunning scheduling!

The authors who've contributed to the anthology are by Rebecca M. Fleming, Jennifer Becton, Jessica Grey, Nancy Kelley, Melissa Buell and Cecilia Gray. Jessica Grey has authored a story in each of the six 'Holidays with Jane' books and is here today to talk about 'Sense & Sensibility' and Valentine's Day. Not only that, but there is an ebook giveaway, open internationally! Read on for more details.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Second Chance by Joana Starnes

Here is my review of The Second Chance by Joana Starnes, which was first published over at Leatherbound Reviews in June 2014.

Book Cover - The Second Chance by Joana Starnes
Earlier this year I read and really enjoyed The Subsequent Proposal by Joana Starnes which featured characters of both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. When I was offered the opportunity by Jakki to read The Second Chance by Joana, I read the blurb, and seeing that it featured characters from both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice I assumed that it would be similar to The Subsequent Proposal but actually it was quite different.

The Second Chance diverges from Pride and Prejudice pretty early on. The story begins at Netherfield, where Elizabeth has gone to nurse her sister, and Darcy has realised how the second Miss Bennet bewitches him and is fighting hard against it. Elizabeth receives a note informing her of her father being found unconscious. Mr Darcy is very comforting to her when she receives this awful news, and offers the practical assistance of sending for his doctor from town. Elizabeth begins to see that perhaps she has had an overly-harsh perception of Mr Darcy initially, and he is a better, more feeling man than she previously gave him credit for. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is in the early stages of her dislike of Darcy at this point, and much of this is done away by his solicitous behaviour towards her. So much so, that when a Mr Wickham arrives on the scene and tells her a tale of woe regarding Mr Darcy’s behaviour Elizabeth is not particularly disposed to give it much credence.

Although Mr Bennet recovers, he is diagnosed with a heart problem. He could survive for some time or drop down dead, leaving his widow and daughters destitute. By this point Mr Collins has arrived and has made his position clear. Mr Darcy is rather more in love with Elizabeth at this point than in canon and he makes a crazy decision. Rather than chance that Elizabeth may choose to sacrifice herself to ensure her sisters’ future security Darcy decides to give her an alternative option. He feels that he is unable to marry her, as her family is unacceptable, but he could secure her financial future. He has a smaller estate that he decides to sign over to her family, pretending that it has been left to Mr Bennet by an old university friend, who wished to remain anonymous. This sounds extremely generous, and it is, but it’s also gambling with the Bennets’ respectability – if anybody found out that the Bennets had been given an estate by an unrelated man there would probably be an assumption that one of the Miss Bennets was his mistress, and it could have ruined their whole family. It’s a pretty selfish action considering that he would be gambling with their respectability and reducing his family’s fortune in one fell swoop and the only reason he’s doing it is to try to prevent Elizabeth marrying before he’s had chance to get over her. If any of the Bennets or their relations find out it’s likely that they would be extremely offended, and Darcy’s motives could easily be misinterpreted.

As it happens, by the time Mr Bennet passes away Mrs Bennet and her daughters wouldn’t have been destitute as two of them have already married and are in a position to support their mother and sisters. But, being in possession of the Farringdon Estate in Devon, they move there, where they meet some characters who we would know from Sense and Sensibility - Sir John and Lady Middleton, Colonel Brandon and the garrulous Mrs Jennings, who immediately becomes fast friends with Mrs Bennet. There is also a visitor to the area that we would find familiar; Colonel Brandon has another colonel staying with him – a Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is very taken with the Misses Bennet, and believes he sees some partiality for them in his friend Brandon. Soon afterwards there are further newcomers to the area in the form of a widow, Mrs Dashwood, and her three daughters. Elizabeth and Kitty Bennet soon become good friends with Elinor and Marianne. This is where the storylines of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility start to merge, although differently to how Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion came together in the Subsequent Proposal. I thought the stories were intertwined really well – there were events from Sense and Sensibility that happened in much the same way as in that book, and other events unfolded differently due to the Bennets being there.  If you are not familiar with the intricacies of Sense and Sensibility then I wouldn’t worry too much, this story is primarily focused on Darcy and Elizabeth and the Pride and Prejudice characters.

Since Elizabeth never reaches the level of dislike that she has to overcome in canon the main thing keeping her and Darcy apart is him fighting a relationship due to societal gap between them. In Pride and Prejudice, although Elizabeth knows that there is a gap when she refuses Darcy, she doesn’t fully appreciate just how much higher Darcy stands in society than her father until she sees Pemberley. At the time of her scathing refusal she acknowledges the compliment of such a man’s affections, but in the moment she doesn’t have time to consider it, as she is so angry at his slights toward her family. Here Elizabeth is much more keenly aware of the gap between them and I felt sorry for her – the humbling realisation that it would be a poor marriage for Darcy couldn’t have been a comforting thought, and this theme is explored in some depth.

‘She had never imagined that the disparity between Pemberley and Netherfield, or between Pemberley and every place that she knew, for that matter, would be so marked.’

We are privy to Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings throughout much of the book, but we are also treated to Darcy’s as well. What would a Pride and Prejudice variation be without some suffering for our dear hero?! Well there is quite a bit for him here and frankly he deserves every bit of it! It’s due to his own pride that he doesn’t pursue a relationship between himself and Elizabeth from the Netherfield days when he first begins to love her, and all the other delays, misunderstandings and conflict arise as a result of this, so although he goes through the mill it’s all self inflicted, as his comforting cousin and dear friend informs him:

‘I never expected a blunder of such magnitude! You do everything in a grander scale than the rest of us, do you not?’

I very much liked the portrayal of the characters in this story – I felt that Elizabeth and Darcy were pretty close to canon, Mrs Bennet was portrayed affectionately, Bingley as a sweet man with a lively sense of humour, and I also enjoyed Jane’s character here, especially when she showed some unexpected protective tendencies. We are also treated to an absence of some characters who I am quite happy to do without!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it’s quite a long book and took me a while to read it never felt long. The storylines of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility merged and intertwined naturally and the style of the prose was delightful - charming and witty and there are some bits which are downright funny. There are also phrases of Austen’s weaved in throughout the book, often attributed to different characters, as unobtrusive nods back to Pride and Prejudice that I enjoyed spotting. It’s such a romantic read too. I would wholeheartedly recommend reading this!

5 star read

Monday, 16 June 2014

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

Book cover: Sense & Sensibility by Joanna TrollopeSense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope is the first book of ‘The Austen Project’, Harper Collins’ project to pair ‘authors of global literary significance with Jane Austen’s six complete works to write their own unique take on Jane Austen’s novels’. The fanfare in the media accompanying this series surprised me a little, when you consider how many books there are already in the Austenesque genre, albeit of variable quality, but I’m not going to complain about some bestselling authors having a go! Please note that I am working on the assumption that you’re familiar with the plotline of Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen; if you’re unfamiliar with it there may be potential spoilers ahead.

I haven’t read anything by Joanna Trollope previously but I know she’s a well respected author so I had high hopes. Here, the Dashwood family had been living for the past decade or so at Norland, the home of Mr Dashwood’s rich uncle. Although the uncle welcomed them with open arms, he was traditional in outlook, and partly due to Mr Dashwood never marrying the girl’s mother, Belle and partly to keep the estate together, the estate has been left to John, who is Henry Dashwood’s son from his marriage. Henry died in hospital following an asthma attack, and while he was ill in hospital he asked John to look after his girls. However, John’s ideas of looking after aren’t what his father had in mind.

In Sense & Sensibility Mr Dashwood leaving his widow and children to the care of his son was understandable, especially if the estate was entailed. He may have had very little to leave them that wasn’t tied to the estate, but in this day and age that is less likely. In fact, Elinor reflects:

‘Was it an adventure not to leave a responsible will that would secure the future of the person you’d had three daughters with – or was it fecklessness?’

I couldn’t help but understand this point of view, although there are plenty of people who just trust to chance for their family’s future. It does seem fairly irresponsible, particularly knowing that your family is essentially living off the hospitality of a relative.

The Dashwood ladies are not left entirely penniless though, although they seem to think that they are. They are left ‘only’ £200,000!  This is after being allowed to live in a stately home, gratis for over a decade. This kind of attitude makes it hard to sympathise with their situation. For most people in the UK this would not be an insignificant inheritance but they are unimpressed with it. Even being given a 4 bedroom cottage to live in for low rent doesn’t impress them. Instead they lament that it isn’t more picturesque. These are some deeply ungrateful ladies, Elinor excepted.

Elinor is studying, doing a degree in architecture, but she has to give it up. I’m not sure it was ever made clear why. I would have assumed the most likely scenario would have been that she’d get a loan and some student accommodation for the last year but she doesn’t even seem to think about it, instead resigning herself to the thought that she’ll have to get a job. The fact she didn’t even think about continuing with her degree surprised me, as surely her earning power would be greater with a degree in architecture? As it happens, Elinor lands herself a job earning a respectable £1,500 per month, though Marianne (who earns, and intends to earn, a big fat zero) deems this a pittance.

It doesn’t seem to cross the minds of Belle or Marianne that they could possibly work. Belle hasn’t worked in years, but you’d think having a family would motivate her to think about it, at the very least. It doesn’t, and she selfishly allows Elinor to sacrifice her degree rather than lift a finger herself. Marianne can’t work, because she has asthma and we are told she has a tendency to depression. I am not hugely familiar with the condition of asthma, but as far as I am aware most asthmatics are able to work. As for depression, the particular depressive symptoms that Marianne suffered from were described, but you never saw them. Instead you just saw her being vastly self-centred, for example, doing things she knew were likely to set off an asthma attack because she was so moved by whatever emotion she was experiencing.

Elinor’s family accept her self-sacrifice without question or appreciation.  To me, this made them far more unlikeable than their Sense & Sensibility counterparts. Certainly Austen's Elinor took a lead in settling them in their new life when strictly speaking her mother should have been doing it, however, what did she give up to do so? She would have been going to live with them anyway. I couldn’t decide whether Joanna Trollope's Belle and Marianne were selfish, which is what led Elinor to have to sacrifice for them, or whether she enabled their behaviour. If she’d left a vacuum, would Belle have stepped up to the task? I think people are expected to stand on their own feet more these days.

Another thing which didn’t work for me in a modern setting was people’s reactions to Marianne. She is ravishingly beautiful, which makes men fall over themselves to protect her. I find this unlikely, and more than a bit sexist; I don’t think most men are dying to be knights in shining armour for vulnerable ladies! Her beauty also allows her to be childish, self-indulgent, deeply selfish and generally pretty obnoxious. She behaves like a surly teen. Such behaviour is understandable in Margaret, who is so much younger, but in somebody of Marianne’s age it’s just weird. Yes, Marianne in Austen’s original book was quite self-centred, but having grown up in a much more sheltered environment it’s more understandable, and she was a much more likeable character. To be fair, Marianne does show growth of character by the end of the novel, and is much improved for it.

Once the Dashwoods move to Devon we meet some new characters. Sir John in particular is a scream, being as thick skinned as a rhino. He seems to find Marianne’s immature rudeness hilarious. Which is just as well. We also meet John Willoughby. I loved his introduction:

‘Margaret could see that on the scale of hotness, he registered fairly close to a full ten. He was – amazing.’

We also meet Sir John’s wife, and his mother-in-law, Mrs Jennings. This part was another oddity; these days I don’t think somebody would see late teenage/early 20s girls as a likely match for a mid thirties man, at least until they got to know them. Certainly there are relationships which have these age gaps, but people in general would be less likely to matchmake between people with this kind of age gap. There were a few references to Colonel Brandon liking young people which made him seem almost like a bit of a perve, especially as he is quite old in his outlook, and Marianne is extremely childish. Obviously in the early 1800s a bride who was late teens marrying a man in his mid thirties would have been much more common.

The main thing that struck me as anachronistic about this book was the characters attitudes to marriage; I would say that most teenagers living in Britain today (with the exception of people of strong religious belief) wouldn’t expect to marry before the age of 25-30 or may not plan to marry at all. However, Elinor, Marianne and Lucy Steele all seem to think there is nothing unusual about marrying at the age of 20 or so. It was very strange, as was Elinor’s attitude towards Edward’s secret engagement:

‘I don’t know if he wants to be with Lucy or not, but he’s not going to let her down because he’s been let down himself by so many people all his life that he can’t bring himself to do it to someone else, whatever the cost to him is.’

Personally, I think attitudes have changed greatly in this regard. Firstly, it is not dishonourable for a man to break off an engagement. Secondly, very few people would expect an engagement made between teenagers to be morally binding. Thirdly, I would say that it would be the prevalent view that it is less honourable to marry somebody who you don’t love than to break off the engagement and give them a chance to find somebody who really loves them.

In summary, this book didn’t quite work for me. I think for the story to work in a modern setting more changes needed to be made. The attitudes of the characters were strangely outdated, which made some of the behaviour implausible, and in some cases changed your perception of the characters. I haven't read any other modern updates of Sense & Sensibility, but I will definitely try to; I am hopeful there is a way to make the story work both as a retelling and as a modern book in its own right.