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Posts Tagged ‘my personal jane austen challenge’

a lasting love affair

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

“You must tell me what you think of him.”  Her ladyship paused a moment but not nearly long enough for Elizabeth to fashion a response. … “Pray, is he amiable?  Is he a handsome man?”

“Though our meeting was by happenstance, as Betsy likely told you, I do not know that I would describe him as amiable.”  In fact, I found him arrogant and a bit condescending.  “As for your second question on whether he is handsome, I would say he is tolerable.”  Yes — tolerable is the word I would choose.

(from A Lasting Love Affair, page 15)

P.O. Dixon’s short novel, A Lasting Love Affair: Darcy & Elizabeth, is a unique retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with new characters and a change in the scenery.  Elizabeth Bennet literally bumps into Mr. Darcy on the street in Bosley, where she is now living with her father’s sister, Lady Vanessa Barrett, who has been estranged from her brother since he married Fanny Gardiner and is now in need of an heir.  Mr. Darcy, meanwhile, is staying with his friend, Lord Holland, who happens to be Lady Vanessa’s nephew.

Elizabeth isn’t looking to form an attachment with anyone, having suffered a significant loss, and is content merely pouring her heart out into letters she will never mail.  Despite the expectations of his family, Mr. Darcy finds himself captivated by her, but he has to overcome Elizabeth’s fear of giving her heart away and the expectations of a match between Elizabeth and Lord Holland.  From the gossipy Caroline Bingley to the greedy Mr. Wickham to Lady Catherine on a mission, there are plenty of obstacles in the way of their happiness.

A Lasting Love Affair was an enjoyable retelling of Austen’s novel, mostly because Dixon takes the characters away from Meryton and Netherfield and puts them in an entirely new setting.  I was heartbroken for Elizabeth, but her fear of losing someone else close to her was a different challenge for Mr. Darcy to tackle.  Dixon portrays Elizabeth as someone just beginning to emerge from a deep grief, and the change of scenery means she and Mr. Darcy get to know each other without the obnoxious Mrs. Bennet and the other Bennet sisters lurking in the background.

Although I wish I felt a stronger connection to Dixon’s Elizabeth and Darcy, I couldn’t help but like this novel.  Even though I knew they would achieve their happily ever after, changing the main stage and adding a few new players meant that I wasn’t sure exactly how they would get there.  A Lasting Love Affair is a light and quick escapist read that kept me company at a time when I needed a little Darcy pick-me-up, and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

Disclosure: I received A Lasting Love Affair: Darcy & Elizabeth from the author for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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alias thomas bennet

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

“Mama, Papa, please?” Lydia wheedled.  “Can I attend a ball?  I promise you, I would behave.  I would not dance; I would just like the opportunity to see all the lovely ball gowns and pretend that I am a lady who is out in society.”

“No, my dear, I am firm on this point,” said her father.

“I am in agreement with your Papa,” Mrs. Bennet said.  “Remember, you have three older sisters unmarried yet, and Kitty has precedence and will most certainly be promoted before you.  At least one of your eldest sisters should be married before we add you and Kitty to the group.  It would be considered improper to have all five daughters out at once.”

(from Alias Thomas Bennet, page 97)

Alias Thomas Bennet is one of the most unique retellings of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that I’ve come across so far in that it makes Mr. Bennet a main character.  Suzan Lauder imagines what might have happened had Mr. Bennet been more careful with his finances and he and Mrs. Bennet had been more attentive to their daughters’ education and manners.  In this variation, it’s Mr. Bennet’s secrets that put his daughters in danger.

The novel centers on the question “Who is Thomas Bennet?”  Readers will question his identity as soon as Mr. Darcy questions whether they have met before and as soon as it becomes clear that all of the Bennet sisters are well-mannered, intelligent, and accomplished.  Lauder takes readers back and forth in time to watch the evolution of Thomas and Fanny’s relationship and slowly reveals the truth of his identity.  There are darker forces at work in this novel, but I prefer a mystery and a villain bent on revenge over a lighthearted retelling focused only on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s romance.

Lauder’s portrait of the Bennets as a close-knit, intellectual family and Thomas and Fanny as sensible and completely in love was refreshing.  Even without Mrs. Bennet’s nerves and outrageous comments all in the name of matchmaking and Mr. Bennet’s complete disregard of his youngest daughter’s lack of propriety, Lauder manages to put plenty of obstacles in the way of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.  I loved that even when I thought I’d pieced together Mr. Bennet’s story, I hadn’t, and that even after all was revealed, I still had no idea how it would all play out.

Alias Thomas Bennet is a real treat for fans of Austen-inspired fiction, and I cannot praise its originality enough.  Lauder’s portrayal of Mr. Bennet as a hands-on father and a man desiring a quieter, less important life than the one to which he was entitled is heartwarming, as is his relationship with Mr. Darcy.  I was pleasantly surprised by Lauder’s elevation of Mr. Bennet to the status of hero alongside Mr. Darcy, but it made for a book that I simply couldn’t put down.  Alias Thomas Bennet uses Austen’s beloved characters to show a different side of the Bennet family and emphasizes that one’s name is less important than one’s character.

alias thomas bennet blog tour

Disclosure: I received Alias Thomas Bennet from Meryton Press for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I’m really excited about the challenges I’m participating in this year.  I’m probably being overly ambitious, so wish me luck!

war challenge with a twist

January 1 – December 31

Serena and I are doing things a bit differently this year on War Through the Generations.  We’re calling it the 2014 War Challenge With a Twist, and instead of focusing on a single war for the whole year, we’ll be posting a review linky for a different war every two months (though you can read from any war throughout the year and add your review links later).

Here’s the schedule:

January/February: Gulf Wars (Gulf War/Operation Desert Storm and Iraq War/Operation Iraqi Freedom)
March/April: French and Indian War
May/June: Korean War
July/August: World War I (100th Anniversary)
September/October: World War II
November/December: Vietnam War

There are different levels of participation; I signed up for the Intermediate Level, which involves reading 2+ books on one war and at least 1 book on all the others.

If you’re interested in participating, we’d love to have you join us.  For more information and to sign up, click here.

historical fiction challenge

January 1 – December 31

I’m signing up for the Ancient History level of at least 25 books for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014 at Historical Tapestry.  I originally wanted to sign up for the highest level of 50+ books, but I think it’s safer to shoot for 40, given that I read 37 books for this challenge last year.

dive into poetry

January 1 – December 31

I’m also signing up for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2014, hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit.  I’m going to commit to the Dip Your Toes level and read up to 2 poetry books this year.  There are several options for this challenge, so I hope you’ll see how easy it is to get your feet wet in terms of reading poetry.

european reading challenge

January 1, 2014 – January 31, 2015

I’m also signing up for the 2014 European Reading Challenge, hosted by Rose City Reader.  I’m going for the Five Star (Deluxe Entourage) level, which calls for at least 5 books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

nonfiction reading challenge

January 1 – December 31

I’m signing up for the Dilettante level for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2014, hosted by The Introverted Reader.  That means I will read 1-5 memoirs or other nonfiction books.

Literature and War Readalong 2014

I plan to participate in 6 of the monthly discussions of war-related books hosted by Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat.

April: Toby’s Room by Pat Barker (WWI)
May: Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (WWI)
July: The Lie by Helen Dunmore (WWI)
August: Undertones of War by Edmund Blunden (WWI)
October: Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey (WWI)
December: Letters From a Lost Generation by Vera Brittain and Four Friends (WWI)

keep calm and read jane austen

January 1 – December 31

Finally, I decided to create My Personal Jane Austen Challenge for myself.  In 2012, I really enjoyed participating in the Exploring the Many Genres of Jane Austen Challenge, hosted by the late Shanna of Existing’s Tricky.  I decided to revisit her challenge and create different categories.  So I plan to read at least 14 Austen and Austen-inspired books in the following categories:

Books by Jane Austen
Modern Adaptation
Graphic Novel
Mystery
Jane Austen as a Character
Sequel
Retelling
Minor Character in Lead Role
Short Stories
From the Hero’s POV
Paranormal
Young Adult
Alternate Setting
Outside the Box

What challenges are you committing to in 2014?

©2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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