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Posts Tagged ‘sense and sensibility bicentenary challenge’

I can’t believe 2011 has ended already.  The end of the year sneaked up on me, so I’m glad that I had some time off from work last week to just sit around and read, or more of my reading challenges would be left unfinished.  Despite going through a little mid-year reading slump, I still managed to read 103 books last year, and I completed 7 of the 8 reading challenges in which I participated.  Here’s a break-down of my challenge progress:

hosted by War Through the Generations

I signed up for the Swim level to read 11+ books for the U.S. Civil War Reading Challenge 2011, which I co-hosted with Serena on War Through the Generations.  I finished this challenge by the skin of my teeth, completing my 11th book yesterday afternoon.  I knew little beyond the basics of the Civil War before this challenge, so I stuck mainly with middle grade and young adult novels so as not overwhelm myself with new information.  In doing so, I discovered Ann Rinaldi’s wonderful novels, and I hope to read the rest of her books at some point.

1. Juliet’s Moon by Ann Rinaldi
2. Amelia’s War by Ann Rinaldi
3. Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles
4. My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi
5. Numbering All the Bones by Ann Rinaldi
6. When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson by Barry Denenberg
7. Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War by Peggy Caravantes
8. Sarah’s Ground by Ann Rinaldi
9. Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi
10. The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinaldi
11. Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi (review forthcoming)

The Girl also completed this challenge. She signed up for 1-3 books, and finished 3. Way to go!

1. Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen
2. When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson by Barry Denenberg
3. Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War by Peggy Caravantes

hosted by Historical Tapestry

For the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, I signed up for the Severe Bookaholism level of 20 books, but went above and beyond by reading 45 books, which is not surprising given that it’s my favorite genre.  While most of these were war-related books, particularly WWII, I did branch out a bit more in terms of topics. I strayed far from the list I created when I signed up for the challenge.

1. The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon (post-WWI)
2. Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart (Philadelphia’s Centennial Fair, 1876)
3. The Report by Jessica Francis Kane (WWII)
4. Small Wars by Sadie Jones (1956 war in Cyprus)
5. Strange Meeting by Susan Hill (WWI)
6. The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah (WWII)
7. How Many Miles to Babylon? by Jennifer Johnston (WWI)
8. The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey (WWII)
9. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (WWII)
10. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (WWI)
11. The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney (WWII)
12. Lebensborn by Jo Ann Bender (WWII)
13. Heart of Deception by M.L. Malcolm (WWII and later)
14. Far to Go by Alison Pick (WWII)
15. The Winter of the World by Carol Ann Lee (WWI)
16. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende (Saint-Domingue, 1770)
17. The Katyn Order by Douglas W. Jacobson (WWII)
18. The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo
19. When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg (WWII)
20. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman (WWII)
21. War & Watermelon by Rich Wallace (Vietnam War)
22. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
23. Juliet’s Moon by Ann Rinaldi (American Civil War)
24. The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock (WWII)
25. Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Gray (Marie Antoinette as a child through the death of Louis XV)
26. The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff (WWII)
27. Amelia’s War by Ann Rinaldi (American Civil War)
28. Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles (American Civil War)
29. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman (post-WWII)
30. Displaced Persons by Ghita Schwarz (post-WWII)
31. My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi (American Civil War)
32. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli (WWII)
33. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer (WWII)
34. The Lost Wife by Alison Richman (WWII)
35. Wings by Karl Friedrich (WWII)
36. Numbering All the Bones by Ann Rinaldi (American Civil War)
37. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (ancient Egypt)
38. Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (ancient Egypt)
39. Camp Nine by Vivienne Schiffer (WWII)
40. The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones (WWII)
41. When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson by Barry Denenberg (American Civil War)
42. Sarah’s Ground by Ann Rinaldi (American Civil War)
43. Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi (American Civil War)
44. The Ever-After War by Ann Rinaldi (Underground Railroad, 1851)
45. Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi (American Civil War) (review forthcoming)

hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit

For the Fearless Poetry Exploration Challenge, I signed up to read the minimum of 1 book, but I ended up reading 2. I joined this challenge again for 2012 and hope to boost that number.

1. Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser
2. The Poets Laureate Anthology edited by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt

hosted by My Love Affair With Books

For the Wish I’d Read That Challenge, I signed up for Obsessed level of 20 books, and ended up reading 22. Again, I didn’t follow the list I created when I signed up for the challenge.

1. Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
5. The History of England by Jane Austen
6. Amelia’s War by Ann Rinaldi
7. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman
8. My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi
9. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
10. Numbering All the Bones by Ann Rinaldi
11. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
12. Frederic and Elfrida by Jane Austen
13. It by Stephen King
14. Edgar and Emma by Jane Austen
15. Henry and Eliza by Jane Austen
16. The Beautiful Cassandra by Jane Austen
17. When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson by Barry Denenberg
18. Petticoat Spies: Six Women Spies of the Civil War by Peggy Caravantes
19. Sarah’s Ground by Ann Rinaldi
20. Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi
21. The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinaldi
22. Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi (review forthcoming)

hosted by The Life (and lies) of an inanimate flying object

hosted by A Faithful Journey

For the Jane Austen Challenge, I signed up as a Fanatic to read at least 6 works by Jane Austen and at least 6 Austenesque novels.  For the Jane Austen Reading Challenge, I signed up with a personal goal of 5-10 books.  For both challenges, I read a total of 27 books, including 6 works by Jane Austen.

1. The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
2. Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski
3. Mr. Darcy’s Secret by Jane Odiwe
4. The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan
5. Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers
6. Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise
7. What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds
8. Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange
9. My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones
10. A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
11. The Truth About Mr. Darcy by Susan Adriani
12. Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton
13. Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard by Belinda Roberts
14. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
15. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith
16. The History of England by Jane Austen
17. A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly
18. A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
19. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lyn Rigaud
20. Mr. Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds
21. Mr. Darcy’s Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen
22. Expectations of Happiness by Rebecca Ann Collins
23. Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
24. Frederic and Elfrida by Jane Austen
25. Edgar and Emma by Jane Austen
26. Henry and Eliza by Jane Austen
27. The Beautiful Cassandra by Jane Austen

hosted by Austenprose

For the Sense & Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge, I signed up for just 1 book.  I’d hoped to read more, but at least I completed it.

1. Expectations of Happiness by Rebecca Ann Collins

hosted by Austenprose

I signed up to read 1 book for the Being A Jane Austen Mystery Challenge, which focused on Stephanie Barron’s Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.  Alas, this is the only challenge I didn’t complete.

In addition to a couple of read-alongs that I hosted with Serena for Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles and It by Stephen King, I took part in a few other events.

I read several books for the Literature and War Readalong 2011 hosted by Beauty is a Sleeping Cat:

1. Strange Meeting by Susan Hill (WWI)
2. How Many Miles to Babylon? by Jennifer Johnston (WWI)
3. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (WWI)
4. The Winter of the World by Carol Ann Lee (WWI)
5. The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo (WWII)

hosted by The Introverted Reader

I took part in Holocaust Remembrance Week at the beginning of May.  I read two books, What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everday Life in Nazi Germany by Eric Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband and Far to Go by Alison Pick, and I also wrote a post about the most powerful Holocaust books I’d read up to that point.

hosted by Reading, fuelled by tea

Finally, I took part in Advent With Austen, in which I read a work from Jane Austen’s Juvenilia, Frederic and Elfrida.

Hope you all met your reading goals in 2011, and I wish you all the best in 2012! Happy new year!

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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

That he had wanted to impress on her the depth of his love for her, to ask her to believe that he still loved her, that he had dared even to suggest that his affections were deeper and stronger than Colonel Brandon’s could have been — in all these claims, Marianne wanted to believe him.  Not because she had spent the intervening years longing for his return, for she had long accepted that he was gone out of her life forever, but because she still wanted to believe that he really had been the romantic young cavalier she had fallen in love with when she was seventeen.  It had been the strongest, most passionate experience of her young life; nothing, certainly not her subsequent marriage, had surpassed the exquisite excitement of that first love, and Marianne wished to treasure it.

(from Expectations of Happiness, page 163 in the ARC; finished version may be different)

I haven’t read Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility since 1995, and though I hope to re-read it by the end of the year in honor of the 200th anniversary of its publication, it was a pleasure being reunited with the novel’s characters through “a companion volume” by Rebecca Ann Collins.  When Expectations of Happiness opens, Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars are happily married and living in the parson’s house at Delaford, while her younger sister, Marianne, is living with her husband, Colonel Brandon, in Delaford Manor.  Their youngest sister, Margaret, is now 21, teaching at a ladies’ seminary in Oxfordshire, and living with her close friend, Claire Jones.

With Colonel Brandon away on business in Ireland, Marianne spends her days bored and moping, and Elinor worries that she is unhappy in her marriage.  Marianne always was a romantic, and Elinor is concerned that the feelings she developed for Colonel Brandon after she was jilted by Mr. Willoughby may have worn off.  Elinor is alarmed when she learns that the scoundrel Willoughby is living in a nearby county, and when Marianne is invited on a holiday with the Perceval family, Elinor fears Marianne’s and Willoughby’s paths will cross — and who knows what will happen, with Marianne feeling so low, having already forgiven him for the wrongs he committed, and still longing for a romantic hero?

Knowing how close Marianne is to their mother, Elinor hopes to convince Mrs. Dashwood that Marianne’s reputation and marriage may be in danger.  But Mrs. Dashwood has, much to Elinor’s surprise, proven herself capable of managing a large estate and has taken up residence at Barton Park to help her cousin, Sir John Middleton — who had been kind enough to provide a home for her and her daughters after Mr. Dashwood’s death — recover from the sudden death of his wife, Lady Middleton.  Mrs. Dashwood is so preoccupied with her new role that she pushes Elinor’s concerns aside, and Elinor — who feels she cannot even confide in Edward — feels an obligation to protect Marianne but doesn’t know how.

At the same time that she continues the stories of Elinor and Marianne, who were the focus of Austen’s novel, Collins also creates a story for Margaret — a young women without a fortune but much intelligence who enjoys history and travel and hopes to become a writer.  Having been so focused on her studies, Margaret hasn’t had time for love, but a trip to the south of France with Claire leads her to Daniel Brooke, an Oxford historian, who proves to be her intellectual equal, but nothing is easy when it comes to matters of the heart.

Expectations of Happiness breathes new life into Austen’s beloved characters, and while Edward and Colonel Brandon sit on the sidelines, the Dashwood sisters, as expected, do just fine in the spotlight.  Collins stays true to Austen’s characters, with Elinor once again embodying all that is sensible, Marianne getting caught up in her emotions and romantic ideals, and all the secondary characters playing their same roles.  Additionally, she transforms Margaret into one of the strong heroines Austen fans have long appreciated, and she even creates a host of interesting and original characters, with a list at the end of the book so readers can distinguish between Austen’s characters and those introduced by Collins.  Moreover, fans of Collins’ Pemberley Chronicles Series will be happy to see Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, and her husband make an appearance.

I enjoyed Sense and Sensibility, but it has never been my favorite Austen novel.  Until reading Expectations of Happiness, I never really thought about all the possibilities for variations of the novel, but Collins certainly helped me to see the characters’ potential.  Her writing has an Austen feel to it, which enabled me to lose myself in the story, and what I enjoyed the most was watching Marianne’s character evolve.  Of the three Dashwood sisters, I think Marianne had the most to learn about life and love.  Having been so madly in love with Willoughby, it’s doubtful that Colonel Brandon’s affection changed everything for her overnight.  I’d always been skeptical of their happily ever after, since she was so young and on the rebound, and I think Collins does a good job portraying Marianne’s confusion when she comes face-to-face with Willoughby after nearly seven years.  Knowing Marianne, it was easy to see how she could forget everything she knew about him and get lost in the moment and the what-ifs.

Expectations of Happiness is a commendable sequel to Sense and Sensibility, one that I think Austen herself would have enjoyed.  I definitely recommend it for fans of Austen variations, especially those who think Pride and Prejudice shouldn’t get all the attention.

Disclosure: I received Expectations of Happiness from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I thought I was being good in choosing only 4 reading challenges this year…and then I discovered several Jane Austen challenges.  Those of you who know me well know I can’t resist anything by or about Jane Austen and her characters, and since I already planned to read more Austen and Austen-themed novels this year, I don’t feel too bad about caving.

Austenprose is hosting The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2011, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s first novel.  I’m trying to be disciplined, so I’m signing up for the “neophyte” level of 1-4 books.

I will commit to reading this one for sure:

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which I read last when I was in high school

I hope to read these as well:

Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe
Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange


Austenprose is hosting the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2011, during which participants will read selections from the mystery series by Stephanie Barron.  I’m signing up for the “neophyte” level of 1-4 books.

I will commit to reading this one for sure:

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

If I enjoy it, I will continue the series, whose 11th installment will be released this year.

The Life (and lies) of an inanimate flying object is hosting the 2011 Jane Austen Challenge, which runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2011.  I’m going all out with this one and signing up for the “fanatic” level of 6+ works by Jane Austen and 6+ Austen-themed novels.  I haven’t made a complete list for this challenge, but this is what I have so far:

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
selections from The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Volume VI: Minor Works
Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil G. Brinton
The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski
Mr. Darcy’s Secret by Jane Odiwe
Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louse

A Faithful Journey is hosting the 2011 Jane Austen Reading Challenge from Jan. 2 through Dec. 31, 2011.  I especially like that there isn’t a required number of books for this challenge.  We can read as many or as little as we want, provided they are original works by Austen or Austen-themed novels.  Even movies count!  I’m going to set a personal goal of 5-10 for this challenge, though I’m sure with all the Austen-themed books I read, that won’t be too hard.  Here’s my list so far:

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski
Mr. Darcy’s Secret by Jane Odiwe
Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louse

It shouldn’t be too hard to complete these since I can count books for more than one challenge, but I like to mix things up a bit, so we’ll see how it goes.  Wish me luck, and I hope some of you will join me in one or more of these challenges.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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