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Source: Review copy from author

Maria Grace’s latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Inspiration, is told from the point of view of Fitzwilliam Darcy, gentleman painter. When the novella opens, Mr. Darcy has been unable to put brush to canvas, and Mr. Bingley hopes that he can find some inspiration at Netherfield. From here, the plot of Pride and Prejudice unfolds, but what is different is this inner view of Darcy and his passion as an artist.

Darcy is very observant; everything he sees is dissected into shapes and lines, colors and shadows, and filed away for later use in a painting. The minute he sees Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly, he is captivated. She is his muse, the nymph who fills many a canvas when Darcy’s inspiration rushes back. This explains his interest in Elizabeth, his intense stares, and his near obsession makes him all too ready to depart Hertfordshire after the Netherfield ball. He tries to convince himself that Elizabeth merely sparked his creativity, and his duty means it could never go further than that anyway. Meanwhile, his muse has strong feelings for him, but little does he know, they are the complete opposite of his own.

Inspiration is a beautifully written story that explores a different path for Darcy, one driven by creativity and passion, and Grace makes it fit his character perfectly. Grace incorporates snippets of Pride and Prejudice throughout her novella while giving readers a glimpse into Darcy’s head during those familiar scenes. I enjoyed the descriptions of Darcy’s creative process, the observations he makes with an artist’s eye, and how that is both positive and negative in his dealings with people. Overall, I liked watching the events unfold from Darcy’s point of view, from the evolution of his feelings for Elizabeth to the important and painful lessons he must learn. Grace’s Pride and Prejudice variations never disappoint, and I’m already looking forward to what she dreams up next!

**Maria Grace visited my blog yesterday, with an excerpt and giveaway. You can check it out here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Inspiration from the author for review.

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Source: Review copy from Meryton Press

The Most Interesting Man in the World is a most interesting Pride and Prejudice variation told from the point of view of Mr. Bingley. It follows the course of the original novel, beginning with Bingley’s leasing Netherfield Park. J.L. Ashton and Justine Rivard do a fantastic job getting into Bingley’s head and making his disjointed thoughts and his ramblings thoroughly entertaining. Bingley’s excessive admiration of his best friend, Mr. Darcy, was hilarious on its own, but reading his attempts at intelligent conversation with Darcy, his inability to understand Latin phrases (and the consequences of one such mistake), and his drunken conversations and imaginings made me laugh out loud more than once.

Bingley proves to be observant about Darcy’s admiration of Elizabeth Bennet and his downtrodden state following his trip to Kent, even if he doesn’t assume the facts quite right. The interactions between Bingley, Darcy, and the colonel (known as Archie in this variation, which suited him quite well) — especially after copious amounts of brandy — were delightful, as was seeing Bingley’s personal growth as he realized that he may be more knowledgeable than Darcy when it comes to certain things.

I was concerned at first that Bingley’s ramblings would grow tiresome after a while, but that was never the case. Ashton and Rivard ramp up the humor, and even insert a few scenes from Darcy’s point of view, to keep readers turning the pages. It was fun to know the details behind the scenes to which Bingley was unaware, and it was nice that all of those details weren’t rehashed here. Furthermore, I liked that even though Bingley seemed a bit flighty and exuberant, he was more complex than I had expected. Overall, The Most Interesting Man in the World is a fresh take on Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of a most interesting man, indeed!

****

About The Most Interesting Man in the World

 

What has gotten into Fitzwilliam Darcy lately?

Charles Bingley, a jolly fellow who relies on his great friend’s impeccable judgment in all things, is determined to find out. What could explain Darcy’s ill humour and distraction? Or his uncharacteristic blunder of speaking Greek to a horse who only understands Latin? Not to mention that shocking book accident! Certainly, it has nothing to do with Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Bingley’s own angel, Jane. Bingley is certain of it.

What was really going on behind the scenes at Netherfield, Pemberley, and Darcy House, and just what did those men talk about over billiards and brandy? In this novella, Bingley sheds a little light on keeping company with the most interesting man in the world, and shares his own musings on puppies, his dreadful sisters, and the search for true love. Prepare to be shocked, delighted, and confused by a Charles Bingley the likes of whom you’ve never met before.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Authors

Justine Rivard

Justine Rivard is a very serious college professor who has no time for frivolity or poppycock of any kind. She strenuously objects to the silliness found in this story and urges you to put the book down at once before it gives you ideas. You are invited instead to join her in the study for a lecture about her extensive collection of whimsical 18th-century animal husbandry manuals.

J.L. Ashton

J.L. Ashton, on the other hand, is a very unserious writer of Jane Austen variations you might have read (A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning) and collector of recipes she will never attempt. She encourages a general lack of decorum and has a great appreciation for cleft chins, vulnerably brooding men, and Instagram accounts featuring animals. Especially cats. Also foxes.

Connect with Justine Rivard on Twitter

Connect with J.L. Ashton on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram: jancat95 | Blog

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Giveaway

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of The Most Interesting Man in the World. The giveaway runs until midnight, March 1, 2019. You MUST enter through the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

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February 11 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview

February 12 / A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life / Guest Post

February 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review

February 16 / Just Jane 1813 / Meet the Authors

February 18 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post

February 22 / From Pemberley to Milton / Character Interview

February 24 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review

February 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses  / Book Excerpt

February 28 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post

Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Most Interesting Man in the World from Meryton Press.

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Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Hitler’s Forgotten Children is the heartbreaking story of Ingrid von Oelhafen’s decades-long journey to uncover her true identity. Ingrid grew up in Germany with German parents, but she was only a young girl when she learned that she might be Erika Matko, who was born in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia in 1942, stolen from her parents, brought to Germany, and placed with “politically vetted foster parents.”

In a first person narrative, von Oelhafen explains in great detail her earliest memories, her cold treatment by her foster parents, how she first learned about Erika Matko and the Lebensborn program, her research into Lebensborn, and all the steps she took over the years to find out the truth.

Von Oelhafen’s story is hard to read at times, from the way her foster parents treated her to the part of her life that was taken away and irrevocably changed by the Nazis. I vacillated between sadness and anger, and there were several times I had to put the book down for a day or two. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the evil of the Nazi regime and how one can live nearly their whole life without knowing who they truly are.

Hitler’s Forgotten Children provides much food for thought, particularly about identity, what makes you who you are, and how to build a life for yourself when you don’t know where you came from or who you belong to. Von Oelhafen was forced to consider what she knew, what she didn’t know, and what she will never know, and the book explains how this affected her opportunities and her decisions over the course of her life. Fortunately, there are moments of hope and light in her story as well, but it definitely is one that will pull at your heart.

Unfortunately, Hitler’s Forgotten Children is a relevant read these days with the migrant children in detention who are separated from their families and may never be reunited with them. It will definitely make you think long and hard about the impact on those children, especially knowing that some of them could very well find themselves in von Oelhafen’s shoes in the coming years, questioning their origin and identity. If you are fascinated with stories about World War II and want to think deeper about its impact, Hitler’s Forgotten Children should be on your list.

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Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Niklas Frank was seven years old when his father, Hans Frank, governor general of Nazi-occupied Poland, was hanged after the Nuremberg war crimes trials in 1946. In the Shadow of the Reich reads like a conversation with his dead father, in which Niklas Frank pours out his hatred and rage. He details his father’s career as a lawyer for the Nazi party and his rise to the governor general position, his theft from the Jewish ghetto, his groveling at Hitler’s feet, his hatred for Himmler, and, mostly, his cowardice.

In the Shadow of the Reich is the most bizarre book I’ve ever read about the Nazis. Niklas Frank imagines he is speaking to his father in hell. He interrupts excerpts from his father’s diary, letters, and testimony with his own thoughts. He imagines how his father acted in certain situations or what his father should have done, calls his father names, and basically goes on and on (and on and on) about how much he hates his father and his crimes.

This was a hard book to read, both for the content and its rambling. There was a lack of focus in its structure, like the only purpose of the book was to denounce his father. Niklas Frank had a lot of things to get off his chest, a lot of things to say to his father that he wasn’t able to say as a child seeing his father for the last time, and it feels like this book served as a kind of therapy to his tortured soul.

On the one hand, it was nice to see that he distanced himself from his father’s beliefs, but on the other hand, it felt way too personal. It’s hard to describe the book to people who haven’t read it before, but as someone who has read dozens and dozens of books about Nazi Germany, I must say this is the most unique and yet most disappointing in terms of the writing. Niklas Frank has an interesting story to tell, but I got more out of watching various YouTube interviews with him and other books about the children of Nazis in which he was featured (such as My Father’s Keeper) than from his own book. However, I think it would be worth giving a try if you are fascinated with firsthand accounts from World War II. In the Shadow of the Reich is definitely something different.

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Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★★★☆

My Father’s Keeper is based mainly on the extensive 1959 interviews of children of high-ranking Nazis by Norbert Lebert (who died in 1993). These interviews detail what happened to the children of Nazi war criminals right when the war ended and in the 15 years after. Norbert Lebert’s son, Stephan, then follows up (or attempts to) with the “Nazi children” in 1999-2000 to learn about their lives in the subsequent decades.

The book focuses on Wolf Rüdiger Hess, son of Rudolf Hess; Martin Bormann, Jr., son of Martin Bormann; Niklas and Norman Frank, sons of Hans Frank; Gudrun Himmler, daughter of Heinrich Himmler; Edda Göring, daughter of Hermann Göring; Robert and Klaus von Schirach, sons of Baldur von Schirach; and Karl-Otto Saur Jr., son of Karl-Otto Saur.

Some of these “Nazi children” forged a different path and distanced themselves from their fathers’ crimes; some embraced the ideology of their fathers and defended them even decades later. Most loved their fathers still. Some found their fathers’ names to be a detriment; others still reaped the benefits of their Nazi connections. But none can be held guilty for their fathers’ war crimes.

The narrative is a bit disjointed, shifting from the 1959 manuscripts by Norbert Lebert to the later interviews by Stephan Lebert. Stephan Lebert also attempts to discuss the psychological aspects of being a child of a high-ranking Nazi, and how that shaped their early years and contributed to the paths they took later in life. There are quotes from researchers on the subject, some comparisons to the psychological trauma of the children of Holocaust survivors, and even how the German mentality in the 1950s was to sweep the horrors of the war under the rug, rebuild, and move on. But mostly My Father’s Keeper is merely a collection of biographical stories about the “Nazi children.”

There is much to ponder within these stories — like how much guilt, if any, should they bear; whether they should have been allowed to just pick up their lives, albeit without the money and comforts they enjoyed as children during the Third Reich, when so many lives were lost at their fathers’ hands; how to separate their suffering as the children of the perpetrators from the suffering of the victims and their children; whether one should feel sorry for their harsh treatment based on their parentage (they were children, after all); and how they could possibly feel love for their fathers after learning the full extent of their crimes. How could some turn a blind eye to that as they grew into adults? There is no clear answer to any of these questions, but they certainly provide much food for thought.

I had a hard time reading these stories, especially the ones where the children continued to adore their fathers long after the war. But I was fascinated with the psychology behind their stories and felt like I learned a lot from these “case studies.” If you are like me and read as much as you can about World War II, this book is not to be missed.

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Source: Review copy from author

Reunited is the second book in Rose Fairbanks’ Loving Elizabeth trilogy of novellas that reimagine the events of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It takes place five years after the first book, Pledged.

It has been five years since Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy parted ways, having pledged themselves to one another before he was to leave on a summer trip to Ireland with his father, Elizabeth’s father and brother Sam, and Mr. Bingley and his father. They were just 16 and 22 when they first met, and despite knowing each other only a matter of days, they forged a connection that they were sure would last.

However, tragedy befell the Bennet, Darcy, and Bingley families on that trip, and the effects linger years later. Still grieving her family’s loss, Elizabeth also mourns the loss of her relationship with Will, as he had written only once to her family and never went to Longbourn to claim her hand. Since their betrothal was secret, she must hide her feelings from the rest of the world, but everything is pushed to the surface when Darcy and Bingley arrive at Netherfield.

It’s not long before Elizabeth and Darcy realize that someone has been conspiring to keep them apart, but despite learning their feelings had never changed, Elizabeth must fight her insecurities and the opposition of her mother and her best friend to their relationship.

Fairbanks has me on the edge of my seat with this trilogy. There is a sense of danger as Elizabeth and Darcy seek to determine who attempted to sabotage their relationship, and there is so much passion between them. I love how they have known each other since Elizabeth was a young woman, and Fairbanks does a great job showing how they and their feelings for one another have matured. I plan to read the last installment, Treasured, soon, so stay tuned for my review.

Disclosure: I received Reunited from the author for review.

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Source: Review copy from author

The Colonel’s Son is the second book in April Floyd’s Lost Heir series that began with Mrs. Fitzwilliam. A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the series imagines that Elizabeth Bennet met and married Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, after the Netherfield party leaves Hertfordshire. About four years have passed since Elizabeth gave birth to Richard, who is destined to be the Earl of Matlock. When the late colonel’s family learns of Richard’s existence, Elizabeth is thrust into London society and forges a bond with Mr. Darcy.

In The Colonel’s Son, Darcy has become a big part of young Richard’s life, and his feelings for Elizabeth and hers for him have slowly blossomed. However, one thing on which they disagree is the presence of Major Wickham at Fitzwilliam House, but Darcy can’t bring himself to tell Elizabeth the exact reasons for his stern warnings against the man. With Wickham and Darcy at odds and Elizabeth still worried about losing her son to the Matlocks, there is a lot at stake and numerous obstacles in Darcy and Elizabeth’s path to happily ever after.

I love that Floyd took a chance in giving Elizabeth a previous marriage, a dead husband, AND a child, and for those of you who commented on my review of Mrs. Fitzwilliam that you were reluctant to read it because of the colonel’s death, please be assured that his death is known from the beginning of the first book, and readers never officially “meet” him but only hear about him in conversation. That definitely softens the blow. And by taking such a chance, Darcy and Elizabeth have much in common — namely their love for the colonel — but also different challenges to overcome.

The story is perfectly paced, and with all three installments having been released, readers don’t have to wait to finish the story. The first two books each feature a major obstacle that Elizabeth and Darcy must overcome and hint at the challenges to come in the next book, but I didn’t feel as though there were any major cliffhangers, which was a real relief to me.

I do hope you will give this trilogy a chance. Floyd shakes things up while staying true to Austen’s characters, and there is plenty of romance and light moments interspersed with the drama. I will be reading the last installment, Mrs. Darcy, soon, so stay tuned for my review.

Giveaway: April is generously offering 5 ebook copies of The Colonel’s Son to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, February 10, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received The Colonel’s Son from the author for review.

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