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Posts Tagged ‘emma’

donwell-abbey-cover

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

There seemed to be only one option. It would break her heart, but it would protect the man she loved. And wasn’t that the very definition of love? Doing what’s best for the other person, in spite of your own desires?

(from Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey)

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is the sequel to Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes, a novel inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set during the Great War. While Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey can be read as a standalone book, I think it’s important to read them in order for a richer experience.

Picking up where the first novel ended, Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have expressed their love for one another and are hopeful about being reunited in a matter of months. However, while waiting for Darcy at his home, Pemberley, Elizabeth receives some terrifying information that prompts her to flee without a trace. Meanwhile, Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, are working to solve a mystery involving a conspiracy when he learns that Elizabeth has disappeared, dealing him a crushing blow that is only the beginning of his pain.

Ginger Monette does a fantastic job painting a picture of wartime, from the trenches to battle to the hospitals, and crafting characters traumatized by their experiences but still open to finding love and happiness. There is plenty of action to keep readers’ attention from the very first page, but Monette also provides plenty of food for thought about the physical, mental, and emotional impact of war. My heart ached for Darcy and Elizabeth, but it rejoiced with them as well. I loved how Monette worked in characters from Emma, with Darcy’s connection to the Knightley family, Hartfield, and Donwell Abbey, as well as Sense and Sensibility, and I especially appreciated how she stayed true to Austen’s beloved couple even while putting them in a different time and more difficult circumstances.

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About Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey

1917. Amidst the chaos of WW1, Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she disappears.

Still reeling from the loss, Darcy is struck by a battlefield tragedy that leaves him in a dark and silent world.

Sent to Donwell Abbey to recover, he's coaxed back to life by an extraordinary nurse. A woman whose uncanny similarities to Elizabeth invite his admiration and entice his affections.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth. His head tells him to take a chance with his nurse.

But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.

Check out Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey on Goodreads | Amazon | other retailers

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About the Author

Ginger Monette

Ginger Monette

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she’s hooked—on writing and World War I.

When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 Picture This grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Connect with Ginger Monette via website | Facebook | Amazon author page

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Disclosure: I received Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey from the author for review.

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holidays with jane

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

“I’ve an assignment for you,” Samuel said as he clunked the cup back down.

Jane sighed. “I thought as much. Why does He always send you? Couldn’t He send someone with a sharper wit to entertain Cassandra and me?”

“It was either me or a Brontë, my dear girl. I thought I’d spare you that.”

(from “It’s a Wonderful Latte” in Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer)

Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer is a collection of six Christmas-themed stories based on each of Jane Austen’s novels.

“The Work of an Instant” by Jennifer Becton  (based on Persuasion)

An oddly dressed Santa working in the Mansfield Perk coffee shop informs Dr. Anne Elliot that she will receive her Christmas wish just before her old flame, Lieutenant Commander Frederick Wentworth waltzes in, apparently on leave from the USS Kellynch. Her nurse friend Louisa pounces immediately, but could a Christmas ball and some Christmas magic reunite Anne and Frederick after so many years apart?

“Mischief and Mistletoe” by Melissa Buell (based on Northanger Abbey)

Pastor’s daughter and aspiring fashion designer Catherine Morland gets a chance to spread her wings when she is offered a job making new costumes for the annual Dickens’ Christmas Festival in Santa Barbara. Cate is over the moon when she meets Henry Tilney, but she worries that a misunderstanding of her situation could alter his feelings for her.

“A Tale of Three Christmases” by Rebecca M. Fleming (based on Sense and Sensibility)

The lives of the Dashwood sisters are in chaos following the death of their father. The youngest, Maggie, finds solace in her writing, and a thoughtful gift from her father and a bit of Christmas magic help her navigate the family and romantic dramas over a period of three years.

“With Love, from Emma” by Cecilia Gray (based on Emma)

Emma Gold may not have any family to keep her company during the holidays, but she takes comfort in her matchmaking abilities. However, she fears her efforts to pair up members of the bridal party at her best friend’s wedding may have gone awry amid her confusing feelings for and competitive banter with Lance Knightley, whose bar is next to her flower shop and whose kiss under the mistletoe she can’t forget.

“It’s a Wonderful Latte” by Jessica Grey (based on Mansfield Park)

Mansfield Perk manager Evie and her best friend Frank find themselves at odds when the Piper siblings solicit their help for a fundraiser. Not sure what to do about her new relationship-going-nowhere and her complicated feelings for Frank, Evie needs the help of Jane Austen herself, who uses a bit of Christmas magic to help Evie realize love (and the real meaning of the novel Mansfield Park).

“Pride & Presents” by Kimberly Truesdale (based on Pride and Prejudice)

Liz Bennet is ready to take the reins at the Longbourn Community Center and enable her father to retire. She hopes for a Christmas to remember, with the help of basketball star Charles Bingley. Meanwhile, his lawyer friend Will Darcy has Liz all out of sorts, and he certainly made a bad first impression, so when he asks her out, she is shocked and turns him down. And then the fantastic Christmas she has planned for the children starts to crumble, along with her family’s grasp on Longbourn, and Liz must swallow her pride and realize she may not be such a good judge of character after all.

As with Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet, I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, and again, I loved how they were connected in little ways, through the Mansfield Perk coffee shop and Cate’s Creations. In fact, this time it’s too hard for me to choose a favorite story! I also love how these are modern takes on Austen’s novels and how they aren’t straight retellings, and even though the stories are short, I was satisfied with all of the endings. I hope to squeeze more holiday reading in before the new year, but if I don’t have time, I’ll be thankful to have ended on a bright note. I’m looking forward to reading the other Holidays with Jane collections next year!

Merry Christmas!!

Disclosure: Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer is from my personal library.

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trick-or-sweet

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Jane laughed, “I know exactly what you mean! That’s the beauty of novels, isn’t it? How well fiction can illustrate and even reflect everyday life. I never open a novel without reading about someone I know — and often meet people I’m already familiar with from the pages of a book.”

(from “Once Upon a Story” in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet)

Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is a collection of six Halloween-themed stories based on each of Jane Austen’s novels.

“Must Be Magic” by Kimberly Truesdale (based on Persuasion)

Anne Elliot is still learning how to control her powers — the powers that cost her the love of Fareed Walia eight years ago when she turned down an offer from him in order to find herself — when her family is forced to sell Kellynch House. Fareed comes back into her life at the same time as a dark figure from Anne’s past seeking a powerful talisman and revenge.

“Once Upon a Story” by Rebecca M. Fleming (based on Northanger Abbey)

College student Catie meets a pair of curious sisters at a coffee house as she attempts to piece together what went wrong at the annual Fall-o-Ween festival. Her research about the Battlefield Legend may have cost her the friendship of the Tilney family and the man she loves.

“Insensible” by Cecilia Gray (based on Sense and Sensibility)

Betrayed by her parents, Miriam Dashwood’s life and the family’s business, Dashing Events, are in shambles. She scrambles to pull off the ultimate Halloween party for Brandon Firestone’s law firm as she navigates her confusing feelings for him and the excitement of a motorcycle ride with the bad boy rocker from the band Willow Bee.

“Emma Ever After” by Melissa Buell (based on Emma)

Emma Woodhouse is planning the annual Fall Ball to benefit the charity in her late mother’s name and decides it would be a great idea to auction off local eligible bachelors. Her friend Grant Knightley is skeptical of the plan, her matchmaking abilities, and TV show host Frank Hill, who may or may not have his sights set on Emma.

“Mansfield Unmasked” by Jennifer Becton (based on Mansfield Park)

In a mash-up of Mansfield Park and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pug — Lady Bertram’s furry friend at the Mansfield Park Boarding House — wants to use his cupid magic to help his friend, Pryce, but things get all mixed up at an outrageous, last-minute Halloween party.

“Beyond Midnight” by Jessica Grey (based on Pride and Prejudice)

Will Harper loses a bet to his sister and must attend the high school’s Trick or Sweet dance dressed in the costume of her choice: Mr. Darcy. Things get very uncomfortable for Will when he insults Elena Marquez, who is unlike any girl he’s ever liked before, and he worries the magic between them will be lost when the dance is over and he takes off the Darcy costume.

All of the stories in Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet are fun, humorous, and romantic, not to mention quick and satisfying. The stories are connected in small ways, namely the Mansfield Perk coffee house, which I really wish existed! I enjoyed all of the stories, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be probably be “Insensible,” as I really found myself drawn to Miriam and Brandon’s sweet relationship and how they both changed over the course of the story. All of these authors did an admirable job setting the autumn/Halloween scene and retelling important aspects of Austen’s novels in just a handful of pages, making them modern and very different (in a good way) at the same time. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Holidays with Jane collections!

Disclosure: Holidays with Jane: Trick or Sweet is from my personal library.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I read a lot of Jane Austen-inspired short stories and novellas recently, so in order to catch up, I thought I’d do another round of mini-reviews:

four days in april

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Four Days in April by Maria Grace

This Pride and Prejudice-inspired short story opens after Darcy’s failed proposal and imagines what might have happened had Elizabeth responded to his letter by writing him one. I love Grace’s writing, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed it. I loved their conversation in Lady Catherine’s drawing room, where they said so much without saying much at all. It lives up to the promise that one can read it while enjoying a cup of tea, and while I was satisfied with the ending, I wouldn’t have minded it being longer. (This is a Kindle freebie.)

sweet ginger

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Sweet Ginger by Maria Grace

Inspired by Emma, this is the story of Harriet Smith, how she ended up at Mrs. Goddard’s school, and how she met Robert Martin and his sisters. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the Martins’ home life and especially how Harriet — so in need of a loving family — immediately fit right in. Grace shows readers how truly wrong Emma was in persuading Harriet to turn down Mr. Martin’s proposal. I was glad to see Harriet take center stage.

half agony half hope

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Half Agony, Half Hope by Maria Grace

This story aims to fill in the gaps in Persuasion, rather than re-imagine the novel. My favorite scene was toward the end, when Anne, Lady Russell, and Elizabeth are discussing Anne’s upcoming marriage, and Captain Wentworth shows up and offers his opinion when Elizabeth attempts to persuade Anne against getting married before her. That was a laugh-out-loud moment! (This book is available for free on the author’s website.)

teatime tales

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Teatime Tales by Leenie Brown

This is a collection of short stories mostly inspired by Pride and Prejudice, though there is one inspired by Mansfield Park. It lives up to the promise of being “a bit of fluff to brighten your day.” My favorite stories were “A Music Room Meeting,” where Colonel Fitzwilliam gets his happily ever after, “From Tolerable to Lovely,” in which Darcy and Elizabeth’s first meeting plays out much differently, and “A Battle of Wills and Words,” in which Colonel Fitzwilliam learns the hard way what happens when one tries to spar with Elizabeth Bennet.

p and p backstage pass

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Pride and Prejudice: Your Backstage Pass to Jane Austen’s Novel and the Making of the BBC TV Series, Starring Colin Firth
by Jessica Long

This was a Kindle freebie that is best suited for someone who hasn’t read Austen’s novel. It explains the plot of Pride and Prejudice, provides details about the characters, and discusses costumes and aspects of Regency society. I basically skimmed through this book because it wasn’t anything new to me.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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finding the rainbow

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

Holly took one last look at the ever-changing purples and greens and greys of the stunning valley and pushed off the stone wall to resume her jog. And to feel the pinch of regret that she couldn’t stay in this beautiful limbo forever.

(from Finding the Rainbow)

Quick Summary: Finding the Rainbow is the second book in Traci Borum’s series set in the village of Chilton Crosse in the Cotswolds that began with Painting the Moon. This is a standalone novel that focuses on a different set of characters, though some characters from the first novel make an appearance. Holly Newbury left college and returned to Chilton Crosse to care for her father and three younger sisters following her mother’s sudden death. Several years have passed, and she has settled into a routine of taking care of the household, working part time at the village art gallery and pub, and taking online classes to finish her business degree. But her life is upended when a film crew arrives to film an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. Holly befriends Fletcher Hays, the American who wrote the script, and starts a book club when her father’s Lady Catherine-esque cousin, Gertrude, says she has never read the Austen novel. Holly becomes dependent on Fletcher’s friendship when her father drops a bombshell on the family and her sister’s behavior gets out of hand, and Holly realizes she doesn’t know what to do with her life when it seems as though her family doesn’t need her to care for them anymore.

Why I wanted to read it: I was intrigued by the Cotswold setting and wanted to see how Austen factored into the story.

What I liked: I really enjoyed Painting to Moon, and Finding the Rainbow didn’t let me down either. Again, Borum has created a cast of memorable characters, and I liked how the villagers were like old friends this time around. I felt like I really got to know Holly and understand her devotion to her family. Her life was thrown into chaos when her mother died, but her new routine became comfortable over time, and she doesn’t know how to go back to the independence she knew before. Her family leans on her, and when Fletcher enters her life, she finally finds someone she can lean on. And just like in Emma, that friendship becomes confusing when other feelings come into play. I enjoyed the Austen references at the beginning of every chapter, as well as the similarities between Holly’s story and Austen’s novel.

What I disliked: Nothing. It was a charming, feel-good novel overall.

Final thoughts: Finding the Rainbow is a pure comfort read, complete with a sweet romance, family drama, literary references, and that charming small-town setting. I can’t wait to see what comes next in this series!

Disclosure: I received Finding the Rainbow from the author for review.

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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These are all books I read over the summer that have been patiently waiting to be reviewed, so in order to clear them off my side table and feel accomplished, I figured some mini reviews were in order!

the war within these walls

Source: Public library
Rating: ★★★★☆

The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax, illustrated by Caryl Strzelecki

This young adult graphic novel chronicles the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 from the eyes of a teenager, Misha. When he can no longer stand to watch the disease, starvation, and violence take the lives of the Jews forced to live within the walls of the ghetto, he decides to join the resistance fighters planning to stand and fight the Nazis as they prepare to liquidate the ghetto. The War Within These Walls combines a first-person narrative with dark illustrations to emphasize the desolation and despair in the ghetto. It’s a powerful novel, and although I read it in one sitting, the images still haunt me months later.

emma, mr. knightley and chili-slaw dogs

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs by Mary Jane Hathaway

A fun modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma set in a southern town where people take their garden parties and Civil War reenactments seriously. The novel centers on old friends, Caroline, a journalist who leaves her job to care for her ailing mother, and Brooks, a journalism professor dealing with his own family issues, who must contend with their changing feelings for one another amidst all their disagreements. It was fun to pick out all the allusions to Austen’s novel, and there are recipes, too!

darcy and elizabeth lost in love

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

“Darcy and Elizabeth: Lost in Love” by Mary Lydon Simonsen

A sweet short story based on Pride and Prejudice by one of my favorite authors of Austen-inspired fiction. While touring Pemberley with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth Bennet gets lost in a garden maze. Darcy is still dealing with Elizabeth’s rejection when he returns to his estate, and both are surprised to encounter one another. “Darcy and Elizabeth: Lost in Love” was a quick read that made me feel sad that it was over but satisfied at the same time.

almost persuaded

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

“Almost Persuaded: Miss Mary King” by P.O. Dixon

This short story inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice focuses on Mary King, the heiress who catches Mr. Wickham’s eye but who luckily manages not to be trapped into a marriage with the scoundrel. Tired of competing with the Bennet sisters, Mary finds herself easily charmed by Wickham. It was nice to get a glimpse of a secondary character that isn’t paid much attention, but I was surprised to see a bit too much of her in a steamy seduction scene. My only complaint is that it ended too soon, and because I’d grown to care for Mary a bit, I wanted to see if she ever got her happy ending.

bits of bobbin lace

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Bits of Bobbin Lace by Maria Grace

This was a free download from the author’s website that features bonus chapters from her Given Good Principles series of novels inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’m a big fan of the series, so it was fun to revisit the characters again. I especially liked how the bonus chapters featured a wide variety characters, including Mr. Darcy’s parents, Elizabeth’s parents, Charlotte Lucas, and even Mr. Bingley’s sister, Louisa. However, you’ll definitely have to read the series first so you can appreciate these extras.

a tale of two matchmakers

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

“A Tale of Two Matchmakers” by Marilyn Brant

This very short (and free, on the author’s website) story is inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma and involves a matchmaking fairy named Sylvia. Sounds odd, but it was sweet, humorous, and took only a few minutes to read. The story is set at the Box Hill picnic, and Emma tells the fairy about all the “matches” she has made, but Sylvia sees what Emma does not. It’s a fun little scene that is oddly satisfying given its brevity.

the poignant sting

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

“The Poignant Sting: Homage to Jane Austen’s Emma” by Sherwood Smith

This is a short sequel to Emma, which mainly focuses on Emma Knightley’s friendship with Jane Churchill, both of whom are expectant mothers. I really enjoyed it, but it felt like it ended just as it was getting started.

amish knit lit circle

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

“Amish Knit Lit Circle: Pride & Prejudice (Episode 1)” by Karen Anna Vogel

This is a short story about a group of women, some Amish, some not, who get together to knit and discuss books. I liked the writing style, and the characters were intriguing. However, despite being “Episode 1,” it felt like I was missing something. And then it ended pretty abruptly.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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the importance of being emma

Source: Personal library
Rating: ★★★★☆

By the time I returned to the car, Emma was fast asleep.  I sat watching her for awhile, thinking things through.  I’d taken a few risks in my life, but only when it didn’t seem to matter.  With the things that were important, I’d always played it safe.

Until now.

(from The Importance of Being Emma, page 172)

The Importance of Being Emma is the first book in Juliet Archer’s Darcy & Friends series and a modern re-telling of Jane Austen’s Emma.  Archer’s Emma Woodhouse is the 23-year-old, new marketing director at her father’s company, Highbury Foods.  Her biggest concern is tapping into new markets and bringing the company into the 21st century — until her old friend Mark (George in Austen’s novel) Knightley returns after eight years running Donwell Organics’ regional operation in India, and her father hires him to mentor Emma for six months.  When Mark went to Mumbai, Emma (or Mouse, as he called her) was just an awkward teenager with a hopeless crush on him.  Now he can’t help but notice the woman Emma has become, and it’s not long before his attraction to her has him distracted and reconsidering his relationship with Tamara, his girlfriend of five years.

The novel follows Emma as she transforms her flighty PA, Harriet Smith, into the model for a revamped product line, tries to set Harriet up with Highbury Foods’ finance director, Philip Elton (who we all know has his sights set on Emma), wishes Jane Fairfax (a.k.a. Saint Jane of Highbury) hadn’t been hired to work with her in marketing, and avoids Mark and his mentoring meetings whenever possible.  As Mark’s feelings for Emma begin to deepen, the mysterious and elusive Flynn (Frank in the original) Churchill, celebrity chef, finally arrives in Highbury to visit his father, the husband of Emma’s close friend.  Emma has long believed she and Flynn are destined to be together, and it pains Mark to see the two of them as thick as thieves.  A hazy encounter at the company Christmas party drives Emma and Mark even further apart, and as Mark heads back to India, Emma must face the consequences of her misguided schemes and utter blindness.

The Importance of Being Emma is a refreshing take on one of my all-time favorite novels.  Archer sticks close to the original when it comes to the basics of the plot and the characters’ personalities, but her characters felt so new that I often forgot that I already knew how it would all play out.  The story is told in the first person from both Emma and Mark’s points of view, creating a conversational tone and making for a quick read.  Getting into Emma’s head makes her a more likeable character because it’s clear that she means well, and getting into Mark’s head sheds some light on the internal turmoil Austen’s Mr. Knightley must have felt about his feelings for Emma and how she changes under Frank Churchill’s influence.  However, not letting readers see into Mr. Knightley’s mind and heart added a layer of tension and anxiety toward the end of the original novel that isn’t present here.  Yet Archer makes up for it with plenty of humor — from Gusty Hawkins, the obnoxious financial consultant, to the “Highbury Humper” (you just have to read the book to find out what that’s all about!).

Archer shrinks the age difference between Emma and Mark by about four years (they are 23 and 35 here, versus 21 and 37 in the original), but it doesn’t change things much.  Archer’s Mr. Knightley still tells Emma like it is, and Emma still doesn’t listen.  He still sees himself as a wise counselor, and Emma still insists she is old enough not to need his advice and censure.  Archer does a great job modernizing the story, underscoring the timelessness of Austen’s plots and characters.  Readers will be happy to know that the books in the Darcy & Friends series are standalone novels, connected only by a foreword written by Will Darcy that introduces the story, explains his connections to the characters, and alludes to what will come later when his story is told.  In fact, I read the second book first (Persuade Me, a modern re-telling of Persuasion) and enjoyed it as much as this one.

The Importance of Being Emma is a sexy and funny update of a beloved classic.  Archer’s Emma is a ambitious woman with career goals and a stubborn case of self-importance, and her Mr. Knightley adds a layer of sexiness and charm to Austen’s perfect gentleman.  Highly recommended for both fans of Austen-inspired fiction and romantic comedies.

Disclosure: The Importance of Being Emma is from my personal library.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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