Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Trio of Books

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
Guideposts Publishing 2010, 268 pgs.
3 Bonnets.

First and foremost, a sincere thank you to Laurel Ann at Austenprose. I won this book in a giveaway from Austenprose in February and just got to it late last month.  Like I've said earlier here, I'm just getting back in the saddle and that includes getting back on the reading bandwagon.

I had the pleasure of reading this darling novel on a Saturday afternoon during my freetime (aka naptime).  It was a quick, delightful, fun read.  Albeit, I did bristle at the thought of the missing manuscript alluding to such a different story to P&P.   It irked me and didn't feel true to anything Dear Jane could ever have written.  Ever.  I also thought Claire's naivetee was a bit overdone.  She was just a bit too clueless about her own life and awareness for my taste, although that doesn't make her story and journey not true or realistic for others.

Summary:  Claire Prescott is a young woman who takes her sister's place at a summer seminar on P&P at Oxford University.  Claire doesn't get the Mr. Darcy thing that most P&P devotees seem to get so she's not that excited about the seminar.  In the meantime, between  finding herself befriending an elderly English woman who might just have a long lost Jane Austen manuscript hidden in her home, and meeting her own Mr. Darcy, Claire must come to terms with some personal problems of her own--her her American boyfriend showing up in Oxford unexpectedly.

According to Jane by Marilyn Brant
Kensington, 2009. 269 pgs.
4 Bonnets (No period costumes here, but some great 80's and 90's references and wit to make Jane proud!)

Now here's where it gets embarrassing:  another sincere thank you to Stephanie at Stephanie's Written Word & Marilyn Brant (author and blogger at Brant Flakes) for my copy of this book. It's even an autographed copy! I ummmm, errr, think I won this book late last fall.  I know.  Please don't say anything other than the look you are giving me right now.  I know.   If you only knew how deep my reading pile is and I don't blog about everything I read.  I need to take a course in speed-reading.
Le Sigh...

According to Jane begins in Ellie Barnett's sophomore English class.  Her teacher has just handed out P&P to read, the obnoxious Sam Blaine is ruthlessly teasing and snapping Ellie's bra and there it is--a "tsk" from out of nowhere.  It happens again.  And this is how Ellie comes to hear Jane Austen's voice inside her head.  Turns out Jane has been waiting quite a while to give advice to someone and Ellie is just the person.  Told from Ellie's perspective, with snippets of she and Jane's conversations, readers grow up and move from relationship to relationship with Ellie and Jane as Ellie searches for The One with Jane's guidance, all the while staying away from Ellie's Mr. Wickham, Sam Blaine. Or is he? 

Outlandish? Yes.  A bit strange at first?  Yes.  Delightful in it's originality? Yes.  This novel is an enjoyable read.  I enjoyed Ellie as she tries so hard to figure out relationships and find some kind of peace which seems always just out of reach.  It irritated me that Jane Austen was incredibly prejudiced against Sam Blaine, so much so that Ellie struggles to listen to her own voice.  It made the reader wonder what Ellie's relationships would have been like without Jane's ever present voice inside Ellie's head.  Would she have made different choices?  Would she have learned to follow her own heart and gut much earlier?  My only small hang-up with the novel was that it was a bit predictable (it's pretty clear that Sam Blaine is Ellie's Mr. Darcy), but it didn't detract from the novel for my taste.

The Season by Sarah MacLean
Orchard Books, 2009. 343 pgs.
Young Adult Fiction
2 Bonnets

Summary: Place--Regency England 1815.  17 year-old Lady Alexandra Stafford is about to take part in her first "social whirlwind of a London season."  Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi are engaged in balls, dinner parties, dress fittings and weekends in the country.  All the while they are trying to figure out how the marriage market of a season works.  Amidst it all the hustle and bustle of the season, they get involved in the Earl of Blackmoor's death by helping his son, Gavin, with the mystery of his father's death.  

This novel was more than predictable for me.  Alex and her girlfriends dread the London season and the ton.   They do everything in their power to escape dreadful suitors.  They get into some trouble with their mother's because they are avoiding suitors.  They get involved in a murder plot.  One could see the next point in the plot before the next chapter.  I had the plot of the book laid out in my head with just a few chapters in.  MacLean does a good job of explaining the season, high English society and customs of Regency England, but for this reader it was nothing new and bordered on a boring.  Granted, it is a young adult fiction novel and it a good romance novel without inappropriate content for younger audiences.  And so it receives 2 Bonnets for being a bit bland for my taste, but also hints and mentions of Jane Austen.

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