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Source: Review copy from Lavidge
Rating: ★★★☆☆

If they remained unmarried after their father died, they’d all be at the mercy of their stern uncle and eventually become a burden to their cousin Nevzat. Visualizing herself as an old joyless spinster like her aunt Afet never failed to depress Perihan. Surely she and Melike deserved better.

(from House of Daughters)

In House of Daughters, Engin Ingel Holmstrom bring Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to Turkey in the 1920s. The Ottoman Empire is nearing an end, and the Turkish people are growing restless under the British occupation following World War I. Women like Perihan Emin are seeking more than an isolated existence under the watchful eyes of their male relatives. Perihan meets Major Murat while serving as a nurse in Istanbul. She had fallen in love with him during his hospital stay, but her pride was hurt when his aunt — who grew up in the Sultan’s palace — insults her position in society. Perihan is forced to confront her unresolved feelings for Murat when she learns that he is working with her cousin Nevzat as they conspire against the occupying nations.

House of Daughters is similar to Austen’s novel in several respects. There is, of course, the attraction and misunderstandings between Perihan and Murat, our Elizabeth and Darcy. Perihan is one of five sisters in need of husbands, and young, single men are scarce due to the war. Each of Perihan’s sisters is similar to their corresponding Bennet sister, and Perihan is similar to Elizabeth in her outspoken and modern ways. I enjoyed watching Perihan come to terms with her feelings for Murat while embracing the new role for women in the new republic.

Overall, I found the novel enjoyable, especially in noting where it parallels Austen’s and in seeing how well Austen’s characters translated from Regency England to Ottoman Turkey. However, what kept me from loving the novel was the detached writing style. There was more telling than showing, which prevented me from really connecting to the characters and feeling their attachment to one another. For instance, when readers first meet Murat, he and Perihan have already met and had their misunderstanding at the hospital, which is simply retold in a couple of pages. I also am not familiar with the historical events depicted here, so I would have appreciated more details and explanations woven into the narrative.

Nevertheless, I felt like I had a good grasp on what all the upheaval meant for women at the time, and I enjoyed watching Perihan and Murat navigate the changes, both in their personal lives and in a larger context. I never would have imagined a Pride and Prejudice variation set in 1920s Turkey, so that alone made it a worthwhile read!

Disclosure: I received House of Daughters from Lavidge for review.

Today, I’m pleased to welcome Engin Inel Holmstrom to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time to spotlight her latest novel, House of Daughters, which is set during the 1920s in Ottoman Turkey and inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. As soon as I heard about this book, I was intrigued, and I was thrilled that Engin was willing to tell me and my readers what inspired her to put Austen’s characters into a setting I’d never considered before.

Please give Engin a warm welcome:

So glad to hear that you are interested in my new novel, House of Daughters, inspired by Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. Let me explain how it came about.

I still remember the day I bought my copy of the book. I was a sophomore at the American College for Girls in Istanbul—a private school where most classes were taught in English. My roommate and I had gone to Pera, Istanbul’s main shopping and entertainment venue then, to watch a movie and visit my favorite shop, the Hachette Bookstore. The minute I saw the book, I fell in love with it. It was a palm-sized leather-bound version in navy blue…very elegant and practical. After all these years and multiple readings, the book is still intact. Every time I open it, it tickles me to see my handwritten definitions of the words ‘pride’ and ‘prejudice’.  My English was that bad then and, as a result, most of Austen’s gentle barbs at the frailties of human behavior went over my head. But, I got the delicious basic story of a spunky girl putting a proud man in his place and taming him! For a while, Elizabeth became our role model, but unfortunately, not a single Darcy was around!

Many years later, when I was waiting for an inspiration for my second novel, I picked up the book and started reading it again, as I usually do once a year. Lo and behold, right in front of my eyes, Austen’s first sentence morphed into something else:

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a father in possession of five daughters must be in want of peace of mind that only suitable sons-in-law can provide.

Pride and Prejudice, Turkish style! Why not? So many retellings or sequels to the novel have been written but no one has transported the popular story to another country, least of all to Turkey. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became.

I started imagining scene after scene of a Turkish family saddled with the problem of five unwed daughters. I gave the name Perihan to the second oldest, my doe-eyed Turkish version of Elizabeth. I imagined my Turkish Darcy, named Murat, to be a dashing wounded officer, in a hospital, taken care by Nurse Perihan. But where and when in Turkey? Istanbul, of course. That’s where I was born and raised. Then I knew it had to be the 1920s for two reasons. First, I didn’t want the story to take place in modern times. Nowadays most Turkish girls find their own husbands without the help of their family or matchmakers. The dynamics of a certain class of Turkish family in the 1920s Istanbul were somewhat similar to those of English families of Austen’s time. Second, the decade of the 1920s, following WWI, provided me with an exciting background for my story. Istanbul was occupied by the British. The Ottoman Empire was dying. The nationalists were fighting for independence in Anatolia, and Mustafa Kemal Pasha, later renamed Ataturk by a grateful nation, was busy with plans to found a new Turkish republic and transform what was left of the Ottoman Empire into a modern democratic state.

I had learned from my first novel, Loveswept, a romance involving a Turkish girl and an English merchant marine officer, that it’s easier to start with something from one’s own life history. So in the first chapters of House of Daughters, I described my own family house in Goztepe, on the Asian side of Istanbul. And once you start, the rest follows, right?

My female characters, although traditionally subdued at the beginning, become more outspoken and independent women as the country undergoes dramatic social and cultural changes. Murat and his friends are not the dandies of Austen’s time but officers involved in a clandestine plot to outsmart the British.  And who helps them achieve their goal? My Perihan! So, the book has a lot to offer not only to Austen fans but also to those who like novels about strong female characters.

Here’s a teaser from House of Daughters. After their break-up, Murat and Perihan meet again:

…Perihan has never seen him standing up. Nor dressed. He seemed taller, more powerful, and more masculine. Wavy brown hair made him look younger and more handsome. Much more. She could still feel his cool taut skin under her hands and the ripple of his muscles…

…Murat was staring at Perihan now, so different from the one in the ill-fitting nursing uniform he had known. Dressed in a full-skirt and a tight-fitting white blouse, this one had a tiny waist that he was certain his hands could encircle easily. A slender neck rose from the open collar she was nervously trying to button. He smiled. That simple act attracted more attention than if she had left it alone.

If you read and like House of Daughters, try my first novel, Loveswept, too.

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About House of Daughters

Engin Inel Holmstrom’s second novel, House of Daughters, is a delightful adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to 1920s Turkey. The Ottoman Empire is dying. Istanbul is occupied by the British. But all Emin Efendi can think of is marrying off his five daughters to secure their places and fortunes.

While working as a nurse, Emin Efendi’s favorite daughter Perihan meets a dashing, wounded Turkish officer, Major Murat. They’re attracted to each other, but Murat’s pride in his family’s social status prejudices their blossoming love.

In this retelling, Jane Austen’s beloved characters are taken out of the drawing room and their tale is told within the historical context of the Turkish fight for independence, birth of its new nation, and greater opportunities for women. House of Daughters should appeal to Austen’s readers as well as all those who enjoy reading novels with strong female characters.

Check out House of Daughters on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Engin Inel Holmstrom

Engin Inel Holmstrom was born and raised in Turkey. She came to the U.S. as a Fulbright Exchange Student to go to graduate school for her Ph.D. and later married her classmate. They both taught at her alma mater in Istanbul for three years before returning to the United States and settling in the Washington, D.C. area. House of Daughters is Holmstrom’s second novel. In her spare time, Holmstrom enjoys writing, painting, and ballroom dancing. She currently lives in Leesburg, with her husband of 53 years and her two cats.

Connect with Engin on Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Giveaway

I have 3 ebook copies of House of Daughters to offer to my readers, courtesy of the publicist at Lavidge. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell me what most intrigues you about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 30, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Longtime readers of my blog know that I am a huge fan of the Austen-inspired fiction published by Meryton Press, so I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the Dear Friend Event:

“Mrs. Collins welcomed her friend with the liveliest pleasure, and Elizabeth was more and more satisfied with coming, when she found herself so affectionately received.” – Jane Austen

Jane Austen describes a fine friendship between Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Collins. One friend welcomes another with “the liveliest pleasure,” and the other is pleased to share in that. We at Meryton Press know from your words that you, our fans, receive our books with pleasure and affection. It makes our authors warm inside to know that.

In the month of April, we want to show our appreciation to you, our most steadfast supporters, our dear friends. Good friends give each other gifts. You have given us the gift of your affectionate reception, and we want to reciprocate by giving some of you gifts in return.

As much as we’d like to, we can’t give everyone a gift, but at each hosted blog post during this event on the schedule listed below, an opportunity will be given to enter to win a surprise gift. Each person who comments can enter a Rafflecopter drawing to win. Although a person can enter multiple times (once on each blog post and tweet daily on each blog post), they can win only once. One winner will be chosen at each blog. Five gifts total will be awarded.

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What a very generous giveaway! I’ve read and enjoyed many books from Meryton Press, so the winner is in for a real treat! If you are interested in learning about some of the books published by Meryton Press, check out my reviews of these stellar books:

2017

The Best Part of Love by A. D’Orazio

2016

Letter from Ramsgate by Suzan Lauder
Second Impressions by Amy George
The Elizabeth Paper by Jenetta James
Side by Side, Apart by Ann Galvia
A Searing Acquaintance by J.L. Ashton
Undeceived by Karen M Cox

2015

Then Comes Winter edited by Christina Boyd
Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North
A Will of Iron by Linda Beutler
Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer edited by Christina Boyd
Suddenly Mrs. Darcy by Jenetta James
A Peculiar Connection by Jan Hahn
Aerendgast by Rachel Berman
Pride, Prejudice & Secrets by C.P. Odom

2014

The Muse by Jessica Evans
Haunting Mr. Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory
Consequences by C.P. Odom
Alias Thomas Bennet by Suzan Lauder

2013

The Red Chrysanthemum by Linda Beutler

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The Dear Friend Event is not just about Meryton Press showing appreciation to their readers; it’s also a celebration of books and why avid readers love to read.

I’ve always loved to read. I don’t remember when I started; it’s just something I’ve always done for as far back as I can remember. Books have always been an escape for me. They’ve helped me through some difficult times over the years, giving me an opportunity to put aside my troubles for a little while and slip away to another world. They help relax my mind after a long day at work and send me off to sleep every night.

One of the reasons Meryton Press grabbed my attention so many years ago was its focus on Jane Austen, and Pride and Prejudice in particular. Pride and Prejudice is one of the first classics I ever read and fell in love with. I never read Austen in school; only on my own. So after the stresses of college were over and the stresses of marriage and motherhood began, I was overjoyed to stumble upon dozens and dozens of Austen variations and realize that I never had to let go of my favorite characters.

Moreover, I love to read World War II novels; the history of that period just fascinates me. However, they aren’t the easiest books to get through, especially the ones focused on the horrors of the war. So to finish one of those and then pick up an Austen variation and be 99 percent sure that Darcy and Elizabeth will find their way to each other and live happily ever after is refreshing.

But most of all, my love of books and Jane Austen has brought me in touch with so many like-minded people, and I treasure these friendships here on the blog, on Goodreads, and on Facebook. 🙂

Now, as a special treat, I am delighted to welcome Meryton Press author Karen M Cox to Diary of an Eccentric to talk about her love of reading…and Jane Austen, of course! Please give her a warm welcome:

I don’t remember learning to read.

I asked my mother to teach me when I was three, according to the family lore. All I know is, by the time I was about five, I could pretty much read whatever my child’s mind wanted. My mother and father are both readers, so becoming one myself was as natural as breathing. There were always books in my parents’ house. In my childhood, I devoured children’s novels:  A Wrinkle in Time, Little House of the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn, The Witch of Blackbird Pond were among my favorites. Alas, as I grew, life sometimes got in the way of reading for fun: music and plays in high school, boys (!), college and graduate school, and then marriage and little children of my own. I couldn’t always drown myself in that netherworld of a great novel when I wanted, but that only made the experience more precious when I had it.

I love taking in the stories of people’s lives, whether in history (Mary Chesnut and Thomas Meagher come to mind) or in novels (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Dragonwyck, the In Death series by JD Robb). When I found Jane Austen though (as an adult—late, compared to some) something was different. She was unique: witty, satirical, funny. And yet, (like a certain gentleman’s version of an accomplished woman) to all this, she added something more. She saw her characters: their truth, their flaws, their foibles, their sweetness, their infamy, and their integrity. And she told their stories in a way that made them leap off the page for me, and become real enough to stick around as I went through my days. When I found others who felt the same way I did about Austen, it was kismet. And when I discovered along the way that I too, had things I wanted to say—about families, about love, about life—Jane was the one who pointed the way for me to do that.

Joseph Campbell’s books on the role of myth in culture and society have always intrigued me. In The Hero’s Journey, he states: “When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous.”

This is sort of inadvertently how I’ve built my reading house. It’s a chaotic, disordered house at times, littered with history, sociology, education, psychology, literature, trashy novels, serious works, and wonderful fluffy stories that make me smile. Campbell might find a few too many “scraps” here, there and elsewhere in my reading world. But what I’ve discovered is that in the midst of this chaos, my series of author obsessions, and reading what influenced them and who they, in turn, influenced, is a meandering path that leads me to places I never imagined. It makes for a rich, colorful journey around the sun. Reading opens the world to all of us. I don’t know how an activity that seems so solitary can connect us, but it does. Reading is a powerful thing, a magic—ever-changing, ever fresh and new—that any of us can obtain, simply by picking up a book and entering within.

And if, by some quirk of fate, I can write something that takes a reader to a place where she can smile, think, or remember, I’m humbled by that—and eternally grateful.

Happy Reading!

Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing your story! You describe my thoughts on Austen perfectly. And my dear readers, I hope YOU will share your stories about learning to read and falling in love with books in the comments!

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Giveaway

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Eligible entries will comment on Dear Friend Event blog posts, tweet about the event and use the rafflecopter to enter. Winners will provide a valid U.S. shipping address for gift delivery upon request. Further details for entering to win a gift are posted here.

General: 

  • All Winners will be contacted via social media or email and announced on the Meryton Press website, Facebook, and/or Twitter.
  • In the event that a winner or winners do not respond within 5 days, a new winner will be drawn.
  • Winners may not be Meryton Press employees, contractors or authors.
  • An entrant can enter once per Dear Friend Event blog post and multiple times on Social Media, but can win only once.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Twitter.

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Dear Friend Blog Schedule:

More Agreeably Engaged–April 1; ends at 11:59 PM April 6th; winner announced April 7th

Austenesque Reviews–April 8; ends at 11:59 PM April 13th; winner announced April 14th

So little time…–April 15; ends at 11:59 PM April 20th; winner announced April 21st

Diary of an Eccentric–April 22; ends at 11:59 PM April 27th; winner announced April 28th

Just Jane 1813–April 29; ends at 11:59 PM May 4th; winner announced my May 5th

I’m delighted to welcome Jane Odiwe to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Searching for Mr. Tilney.

Please give her a warm welcome:

Thank you so much, Anna for inviting me to your blog to talk about my new book Searching for Mr Tilney. It’s a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and tells the story of a young art student who is invited to Bath by neighbours to help recover from illness. While there, staying in a house on Great Pulteney Street, she finds an old journal that she is sure must have been written by her favourite author Jane Austen. And when she starts experiencing bizarre dreams with strange, yet increasingly realistic images, she’s gradually pulled into another world, becoming Jane’s sister Cassandra, living her life with all her thoughts and hopes. Here’s a little excerpt where we see life witnessed through Cassy’s eyes.

An excerpt from Searching for Mr. Tilney, courtesy of Jane Odiwe:

Cassandra Austen, Bath, Somerset, July 1789

The Assembly Rooms are lit up with torches glowing in the fading light. There is so much to see and take in, and I try to commit it all to memory because I know, however late it shall be, my sister will still be up when I get home and will want to know every last detail. The women look like unearthly creatures, exotic in their coloured silks and satins, with towering hair and feathers so tall I feel under-dressed and somewhat like a country rustic, which I suppose is exactly what I am. And even if I could, I’m not certain I should wish to be quite so fancily or saucily attired. They have the appearance of expensive dolls, the kind that mantua-makers show in their shop windows, with their false hair and rouged countenances.

A blur of people walk past me, and I’m smiling and curtseying everywhere I go. All of our relations are in attendance, the Motley-Austens with their son Lucius who grins and stares at me until I do not know where to look, cousins Jane and Edward Cooper with their father, Uncle and Aunt Leigh-Perrot, all smiling and making small talk, though, as Jane would say, eager to have one another over the moment they are out of earshot.

It’s while we are standing in the Octagon room waiting for things to happen that I become aware of him. Despite the furious paced chattering, and the high-pitched laughing, the great guffaws and the mounting excitement, I am suddenly aware, by some kind of sixth sense, that I am being scrutinised from a distance. When I look across the room to the party of people standing by one of the great mantelpieces his eyes connect with mine, and I feel the familiar pull, the fluttering deep inside me along with the wild beating of my heart. He’s here. Mr Fowle is here in the same room, and I dare not look at him any longer than it takes to acknowledge him with a smile. But in those seconds I’ve noted how much he’s changed since I last saw him. He’s taller, broader, and his hair, which a few years ago was wildly curly and tawny brown, has been slightly tamed, darkened to a charcoal shade that matches his eyes and the dark brows that give him a brooding look sometimes. I dare not look again, but I still feel his eyes watching me and cannot help but hope that he likes what he sees. Or is he wondering whatever became of Cassy Austen who once promised to be a beauty, but is hardly more than a country wench with little style and fashion.

My mother is securing a first dance with Lucius. He has improved since last summer when we saw him in Kent, he’s taller and more filled out, but there is still something wanting in his behaviour. Jane says she thinks he is quite mad, and I must admit there is something about him that unnerves me. I do not like to judge, but his previous conduct gave us reason on several occasions to be on our guard. He is quite a handsome young man now, but he possesses the arrogance of a youth who thinks his attentions to young women must be wanted. He preens, and stares, not only at me, I notice, but also at any young woman who takes his fancy. He makes remarks about them to his father, seeming not to care whether he’s heard or not, though his mother’s hand on his arm indicates that she, at least, disapproves. I care not for his regard, and while it pleases me to know our cousins, I feel Mama is still hoping for something more between us. Not that she would force me to anything I do not wish, but I know her hopes for me and what I feel is my duty to my family are inextricably linked. My parents require me to make a good marriage, one which will help the family prosper, and what could be more easily accomplished, than by marrying a wealthy cousin? We are too young to marry, though I feel the wheels are being set in motion to that end. I would be foolish to discount it entirely. And yet … I know my heart, and it does not yield easily where it has no desire. In fact, I know it will not give way at all.

I cannot remember the first time I realised I was falling in love with Tom Fowle. I think I’ve always loved him in one way or another, though he behaved only ever as a brother to his sister when I was very young. I felt something change between us when he visited us in Steventon last spring, though I hardly dared hope that what I felt for him was reciprocated. But, his manners were different during those few days he stayed with us, and he treated me like an equal for the first time. Sitting in the garden with Jemmy on a sunny day, he poured my tea, and fussed over me with shawls and blankets at the slightest breeze. He made me a daisy chain and crowned me “Queen of Steventon”. Placing the ring of small white flowers in my hair so gently, the touch of his fingers on my curls stayed with me throughout that golden afternoon.

‘Cassandra will be very pleased to start the ball with you, Lucius,’ I hear my mother say, and I’m brought out of my reverie as if doused in cold water. I try and smile, and do what is expected, though it is exceedingly hard. I glance over at Mr Fowle, and I see him regarding us, looking from Lucius to me, and back again. How I want to run over to the other side of the ballroom and tell him that nothing is as it appears, but instead I smile wanly, which probably does nothing to assure him either. All I can hope is that our mother will see our Kintbury friends and wish to greet them.

Then, just as I’m about to give up all hope, my mother takes charge and we cross the room to meet them, my heart in my mouth. Mr Fowle and I are standing opposite one another, and I hardly hear what my mother is saying to the Reverend and Mrs Fowle, though I hear her offer some words of congratulation on her son’s new curacy. When the adults carry on chatting, Mr Fowle does not say much at first. But, he’s smiling, his eyes crinkling into laughter lines, as he holds my gaze.

‘My goodness, Miss Cassandra, I hardly recognised you.’

‘Have I changed so much since last April?’ I ask, praying that he likes what he sees.

‘Forgive me, I do not wish to appear ungallant, but you look so different this evening. I still have a memory of the little girl who sat next to me in school lessons with short, unruly curls, and a most serious expression. I find the child I once knew has completely disappeared.’

‘I sincerely hope you’ll find I have changed for the better, Mr Fowle. I recognised you immediately, and though the passing years have altered you in some respects, in others, you remain much the same. Being so much older than myself, and no doubt, a good deal wiser, I recall you were always fond of giving me your thoughts and forthright opinions.’

I catch my tongue. Goodness, what am I saying? I sound as flirtatious as my wicked cousin Eliza who does not care whom she pursues or what she says to them.

Mr Fowle can hardly suppress his laughter. ‘And you think I’m still as outspoken as ever, and clearly advancing into my dotage. I suppose my four and twenty years must seem a vast difference to your tender age, though I assure you, I am not a very old man. I’ve not yet taken to wearing flannel vests.’

I feel my cheeks burning, and note Mr Fowle’s bemused expression.

‘I am not yet too old for dancing either, Miss Cassandra, though I daresay your card will be filled up by the young beaux of Bath to allow such attentions from an ancient clergyman from Kintbury.’

‘I … that is, my card is by no means full, Mr Fowle.’

‘Then I hope you will permit me to ask you to dance.’

‘Thank you, I would like that,’ I answer, and find I can no longer look at him. ‘The first two are taken …’

‘By the young man standing with your party,’ says Mr Fowle, and he stares at Lucius, a grave shadow passing over his handsome countenance. ‘Who is he? He has a look of the Austens … a distant cousin, perhaps?’

‘Yes, he’s Great-Uncle Francis’s grandson.’

Mr Fowle’s face clouds for a moment, and his brows draw together over the dark eyes that search Lucius out across the room. ‘A young puppy, but a wealthy one … and handsome too … he’d be a good match for you.’

I cannot speak. I don’t know how to answer him; everything that comes to mind seems completely the wrong thing to say. Thankfully, he requests the two dances after Lucius, and I struggle with my composure. I am so happy I could burst.

Yet, my euphoria does not last long. The musicians are tuning up, and my mother is hurrying me away, pulling me through the crush of people to the ballroom. It’s impossible to see for the tiers of benches and the large crowds who are surging onto the floor.

‘Oh, goodness me, they’re about to start and where is your partner? Can you see him, Cassandra?’

I’ve seen him, but there’s a small part of me that’s wants to pretend I haven’t. And then it’s too late to run away or back out, and Lucius is standing opposite me in the set and the music starts.

Thanks so much, Jane, for being a guest here today. I am very much looking forward to reading the book!

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About Searching for Mr. Tilney

What secrets lie at the heart of Jane Austen’s teenage journal?

When Caroline Heath is taken to Bath in 1975, she little expects to find the gothic adventure she craves, let alone discover Jane Austen’s secret teenage journal, or how it’s possible to live in someone else’s body. Yet, she’s soon caught up in a whirlwind of fantastic events – travels through time, a love story or three, and even the odd sinister murder – or so she thinks.

As the past and present entwine, Jane’s journal reveals a coming of age tale, set against the scandalous backdrop of Knole Park in Kent, and the story behind an enigmatic portrait. In Bath, a Georgian townhouse acts as a portal in time, and Caroline finds herself becoming Cassandra Austen, a young woman making her debut in society, torn between family duty and the love of her life. As the riddles unfold, and the lines blur between illusion and reality, will Caroline find the happiness she seeks or will she indulge her wild imagination, threatening her future and a fairytale ending?

Check out Searching for Mr. Tilney on Goodreads | Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

**The ebooks are currently on sale for $1.24 in the U.S. and 99p in the U.K.**

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About the Author

Jane Odiwe

Jane Odiwe lives in North London with her husband, children and two cats, but escapes to “Fairyland”, Bath, whenever she can. When she’s not writing she enjoys painting, reading, and music, and loves spending time with her family.

Connect with Jane on Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Website

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Giveaway

Jane is generously offering a paperback copy of Searching for Mr. Tilney to one lucky reader, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell me what intrigues you most about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 23, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Source: Review copy from Meryton Press
Rating: ★★★★★

How shall I face the world if Jane is not a pillar of rectitude? Upon whom I can depend and admire? If Jane falls from grace, where is my place? What shall become of me?

(from My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley)

Linda Beutler’s latest novel, My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is full of surprises from the start. The novel opens with Mr. Bingley realizing his sister, Caroline, and best friend, Mr. Darcy, have done him wrong by scheming to separate him from Jane Bennet following the Netherfield Ball. He becomes his own man and returns to Meryton with nary a word to them, with the intent of winning Jane’s hand in marriage. However, Beutler’s version of Jane is not all smiles and everything that is good; she is understandably angry at Mr. Bingley and will not simply accept his apology. In fact, this Jane is so unlike the original that even Mr. Bennet can understand Mrs. Bennet’s nerves!

Meanwhile, learning of Darcy’s role in her sister’s unhappiness means Elizabeth Bennet’s poor opinion of him has only worsened. Darcy acknowledges the need to make amends with Bingley and Jane, but he is not wanted or needed at Netherfield and instead must present himself to the the sisters’ relations in Cheapside. When Darcy and Elizabeth meet again in Kent, Elizabeth knows nothing of Darcy’s new friendship with the Gardiners; she is more exasperated at her sister’s actions than anything. Although Darcy is warned by his cousin, Colonel Alex Fitzwilliam, to check his pride and tread carefully where Elizabeth is concerned, Darcy plows onward, and confusion, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings abound.

I loved how Beutler twisted the story so Jane and Bingley were more complex characters, even if I couldn’t imagine Austen’s Jane acting like Jane does here — and not just in her dealings with Mr. Bingley. I also enjoyed the passionate arguments between Darcy and Elizabeth, their interactions with Caroline, and the chaos in Meryton involving Lady Catherine. There were many times that I laughed out loud, and I didn’t mind having to suspend disbelief here and there. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s involvement in the chaos and his own story were fun to read, and I must admit I fell in love with him over the course of the novel.

My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley was an overall delightful read, with plenty of changes in the plot and characters to keep me curious about what would happen next. There was the right balance of angst, romance, and humor, and plenty of steaminess toward the end. Beutler’s take on Pride and Prejudice is different and exciting, and it definitely makes you think about how drastically changing the personalities of a couple of characters can turn things upside down.

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About My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley

Jane Bennet had a heart to break after all, and I am a party to it.
—Fitzwilliam Darcy

One simple, uncharacteristic subterfuge leaves Fitzwilliam Darcy needing to apologize to nearly everyone he knows! When Charles Bingley reaps the sad repercussions of Mr. Darcy’s sin of omission, Elizabeth Bennet’s clear-eyed view of the facts gives her the upper hand in a long-distance battle of wills with Mr. Bingley’s former friend. By the time Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth meet (repeatedly) in the groves of Rosings Park, neither knows the whole truth except that somehow, someway, their future is inextricably linked to the courtship of Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet.

In this Pride and Prejudice “what-if”, the additional dash of backbone and “far-sighted” action to the character of Mr. Bingley begs the question: how is Mr. Darcy to impress Elizabeth Bennet if Bingley does his own matchmaking? And how is Elizabeth Bennet to trust Mr. Darcy when even faith in a most beloved sister falters?

Includes mature content

Check out My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Linda Beutler

Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does. The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.

Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom.

Connect with Linda Beutler on Twitter | Facebook | Wandering Pemberley’s Gardens

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is generously offering 8 ebooks of My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, open internationally. Click to here enter. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. (1 comment/blog post) Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). You may enter once by following the author on twitter and once by following the author on Facebook.

Remember, tweet daily and comment once per post with a giveaway to earn extra entries.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.

**NOTE: Ebook copies are available for 8 winners and the giveaway is international! 8 eBooks will be given away to 8 different winners.**

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Follow the Blog Tour (click the banner below)

Disclosure: I received My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley from Meryton Press for review.

It’s always a treat to have Victoria Kincaid as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric, and today I welcome her here to spotlight her newest Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy’s Honor. I had the pleasure of editing this delightful novel, which has the perfect balance of drama, humor, and romance. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

First, here’s the book blurb to grab your attention:

Elizabeth Bennet is relieved when the difficult Mr. Darcy leaves the area after the Netherfield Ball. But she soon runs afoul of Lord Henry, a Viscount who thinks to force her into marrying him by slandering her name and ruining her reputation. An outcast in Meryton, and even within her own family, Elizabeth has nobody to turn to and nowhere to go.

Darcy successfully resisted Elizabeth’s charms during his visit to Hertfordshire, but when he learns of her imminent ruin, he decides he must propose to save her from disaster. However, Elizabeth is reluctant to tarnish Darcy’s name by association…and the viscount still wants her…

Can Darcy save his honor while also marrying the woman he loves?

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Now, please give a warm welcome to Victoria Kincaid, who is here to discuss the importance of reputation in Jane Austen’s time:

The issue of reputation drives much of the plot of Pride and Prejudice (and many other Austen novels).  Darcy’s need to protect Georgiana’s reputation compels him to keep the incident at Ramsgate (and Wickham’s perfidy) quiet. Elizabeth’s aspersions on Darcy’s character cause him to write her a letter, but then his concern about her reputation (because it would be improper for her to receive a message from an unmarried man) prompts him to give it to her in person rather than sending it with a servant.  And, of course, Lydia’s careless behavior with Wickham affects not only her reputation, but her whole family’s.

Austen was well aware that the burden of maintaining a pristine reputation fell more on the shoulders of women than men.  In P&P, Mary observes: “Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable—that one false step involves her in endless ruin—that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful.”  While Mary may be annoyingly pedantic, she is not wrong.  Wickham can get away with all manner of dastardly behavior that is covered up or shrugged off.  But Lydia’s one misstep is treated like a capital crime.  Collins even says she’d have been better off dead.

This inequity strikes me every time I read an Austen novel, and it occurred to me to make it part of a plot for a P&P variation.  What if Elizabeth lost her reputation—through no fault of her own?  Not that she actually did anything wrong, but that everyone assumed that she had.  How would Darcy react?  How would Elizabeth behave?  I was unsure of the answer to all of these questions as I set out to write Darcy’s Honor, so writing it was a process of discovery for me.  Some of the results surprised me.  And I hope that readers will find the book surprising and entertaining as well.

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An excerpt from Darcy’s Honor, courtesy of Victoria Kincaid:

Miss Bingley was still speaking with a rhythm that was almost hypnotic. Darcy’s attention began to wander as his head dipped lower and lower until it nearly rested on his chest.

“…Meryton…” Darcy was pulled out of somnolence with an abrupt jerk. Was Miss Bingley discussing Hertfordshire? “….A letter from Anna Hopkins,” Miss Bingley said to her sister. “You remember her?”

Mrs. Hurst tittered. “Does she still maintain a correspondence with you? Apparently she remains under the delusion that she will obtain an invitation to Bingley House.”

Miss Bingley flicked open her fan with a snap, only to employ the object rather lazily. “Heaven knows. I certainly do nothing to encourage the acquaintance,” she sneered. “However, the missive did include one item of note.” Her glance flickered toward Darcy as if to ensure he was paying proper attention. “About the Bennets. You remember them, Louisa?”

Such a disingenuous act! Darcy ground his teeth together. No one from the Netherfield party was likely to forget the family that Bingley had nearly married himself into. Even Georgiana watched with wide eyes, having heard stories about the Bennets of Hertfordshire.

“What about them?” Bingley asked, hastily setting down his teacup.

His sister took a languid sip of tea, making a great show of indifference. “Charles, you will be very pleased we are gone from that neighborhood and have no more acquaintance with that family. It is an absolute disgrace!”

A chill raced down Darcy’s spine. What had happened to the Bennets?

“What is?” Bingley asked impatiently.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” Miss Bingley avoided glancing at Darcy as she spoke, yet he had no doubt her words were intended to wound him. He clenched his fists to forestall any impulse to cry out at her.

Instead, he waited while Bingley demanded, “What about Miss Elizabeth?”

His sister shook her head sadly. “Such a disgrace. I do not know how the family will ever recover.”

Darcy could hold out no longer. “What has happened?” he finally growled.

The triumphant smile on Miss Bingley’s face hardly registered. “Eliza Bennet was caught with that oily viscount—”

“Henry Carson, Viscount Billington,” Darcy supplied automatically.

“Yes, that was the name. They were found in a”—she coughed delicately —“compromising position during a ball at Lucas Lodge.”

A tight hand seemed to squeeze Darcy’s heart.

“Oh dear!” Miss James’s exclamation was half distressed and half amused.

Mrs. Hurst tsked. “I confess I cannot be surprised. The whole family had no sense of decorum. The way her younger sisters carried on with the officers! And her mother’s behavior. Quite shocking.”

“Indeed.” Miss Bingley nodded her agreement. “I would not be surprised if her mother arranged the situation to entrap the viscount.”

The fist around Darcy’s heart closed even more tightly and painfully.

“Naturally,” Miss Bingley continued, “Lord Henry did the proper thing and made her an offer.”

No, Darcy wanted to cry out, but he had no breath. Mrs. Bennet might be capable of such a maneuver, but Elizabeth would never consent to be part of such a plot.

Mrs. Hurst pursed her lips disapprovingly. “So they are now betrothed?”

Oh, my! I bet you can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering a copy of Darcy’s Honor in a reader’s choice (print or ebook) giveaway, open internationally! To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, April 23, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Every April, I look forward to the National Poetry Month blog tour hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit. Serena is always challenging me to read more poetry and encourages everyone to just give it a try. If there is one thing I’ve learned about poetry over the years, it is that there really is something for everyone in the genre.

This year as I was contemplating my post, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of my favorite poetry collections. In no particular order, here are my top 5 favorite poetry collections:

From my review:

Dien Cai Dau, which means “crazy” in Vietnamese, is a collection of poems by Yusef Komunyakaa about his experiences as a soldier during the Vietnam War.  I first read this collection in a college English course on literature of the Vietnam War, and after re-reading it last week, I’ve concluded that it’s my favorite poetry book dealing with the war.  Komunyakaa is a master of words, describing his experiences and observations in a way that isn’t as gritty and raw as some other writings by Vietnam veterans but still shows the horrors of war and the struggle to survive.  He tells it like it is but does so with much emotion.

From my review:

Song of Napalm is divided into three sections, each of which deals with memories of his war experiences and indicate a progression toward dealing with the ghosts he carries with him and striking a balance between the need to remember and the need to return to the land of the living.  Weigl’s memories are so vivid and filled with emotion that they bring the war to life, and I could feel some of his pain.

From my review:

Delights & Shadows is a collection of quiet poems touching upon such themes as memory, aging, death, and nature. Kooser obviously spends a lot of time observing his surroundings, and many of his poems bring ordinary objects or simple moments to life. When Kooser looks at the world, he sees things that many of us would miss, and the descriptions of what he sees are fascinating.

From my review:

Catalina exemplifies everything I love in a poetry collection.  While I have no idea whether these poems are autobiographical, it certainly seems as though Soriano exposes her soul in these stanzas.  They affected me deeply with their heaviness and their beauty.

From my review:

Although there is diversity among the poetic styles and the poets’ experiences, each of the poems in The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry lead to the same conclusion:  that war is hell.  It makes me wonder how many of these poets were poets before, and how many used poetry as a way to deal with the loss, anger, and haunting memories tied to the war.  Some of the poems made me feel like I was staring into the poet’s soul.  I am in awe of men and women who can put such awful tragedies into words, and I believe that war poetry is among the most powerful and vivid, bringing to life the internal and external struggles in a way that non-fiction and prose cannot.

Have you read any of these collections? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of them. If not, I hope you will consider giving one or all of them a try! Happy National Poetry Month!