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Readingomnivore Reviews

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by readingomnivore, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    A BETTER IMPRESSION is E. Bradshaw's variation on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is available in e-book format, but I do not find a publication date.

    When Jane Bennet falls ill at Netherfield Park, it's not a trifling cold but dreaded scarlet fever. Tending her, Elizabeth Bennet is exposed to Fitzwilliam Darcy's kindness and concern for her sister and herself, which changes her negative opinion of the man who'd been so insulting at the Meryton assembly. Deeply attracted to Elizabeth, Darcy sends for Georgiana to serve as hostess for Charles Bingley (whose sisters depart for London immediately on discovering that Jane's illness is infectious) and chaperone for the Bennet sisters. Elizabeth and Georgiana become fast friends, with Georgiana gaining independence and self-confidence daily. Elizabeth rejects Wickham's attempt to spread lies about Darcy; Darcy discloses his history with Wickham, and Mr. Bennet forestalls his younger daughters' further acquaintance with him. But the courtship between Elizabeth does not go smoothly.

    The only real question in A BETTER IMPRESSION is how long Darcy and Elizabeth will take to acknowledge their feelings for each other. Darcy uses his customary aloof behavior to distance himself from his love for Elizabeth, while Elizabeth overanalyzes Darcy's behavior and her own feelings. Frank communication instead of their trying to read subliminal cues could have minimized angst.

    Editorial problems include hinky paragraphing. First sentences are not indented or set off by vertical spacing; changing speakers in dialogue seldom begins a new paragraph. This makes for huge blocks of text difficult to read. Problems with indefinite pronoun-antecedent agreement in numbers are frequent. Modifiers often dangle. o_O

    ~~~POSSIBLE SPOILERS~~~

    Some situations bother me. One is whether the Bennets would consider Georgiana Darcy as an adequate chaperone for two daughters in a household containing two unmarried men. Another is Mr. Bennet's decision, knowing Darcy's love for Elizabeth, to allow her a month's visit to Pemberley, not as part of a house party but alone with Darcy with only Georgiana and Mrs. Annesley as chaperones. When she's injured in a fall while riding after he finally proposes, Darcy spends days and nights in Elizabeth's bedroom. Afterward, she travels alone with him to Kent, where he visits Lady Catherine de Bourgh and she stays with Mr. and Mrs. Collins (nee Mary Bennet).


    A BETTER IMPREtSSION is pleasant enough, though there is little direct action and less suspense. (C)
     
  2. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE is the first in Martin Edwards's mystery series featuring Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin. Originally published in 1991, it was reissued in e-book format in 2016.

    Separated from his wife Liz for two years but not divorced, Harry is surprised to find her in his flat, seeking a place to spend the night. She's left Mick Coghlan, the shady gym-owner / criminal for whom she'd left Harry, and now claims to be afraid of Coghlan; she's convinced he's having her followed. Harry allows her to stay overnight, they keep missing each other the next day, and Liz does not show up at the Ferry Club to meet him despite having set the time and place herself. Harry is awakened early the next morning with news that Liz had been stabbed to death in a nasty part of town. Overwhelmed with guilt for not having taken her fears seriously and still besotted with her, Harry determines to see that Liz's killer is brought to justice. As he investigates, Harry finds out more than he wants to know about Liz's life and lovers in their years apart.

    While many Amazon reviewers commented favorably on Harry's devotion and loyalty to Liz, to me he is weak and deluded in his perception of her. He castigates himself for not believing her story even as he acknowledges that Liz had been a drama queen who overreacted and exaggerated, sought men of wealth and power, and played with men's affections. Until learning of her death, Harry hopes that she's returning to their marriage; he will gladly take her back. Harry's one-night stand with neighbor Brenda Rixton two nights after Liz's death undermines his stated devotion to Liz. The episode in no way furthers the plot. :buttrock A protagonist without self-respect is off-putting.

    The action covers only a week or so, but ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE reads long. Limited third person point of view puts Harry in every scene. Edwards moves him about Liverpool as he chases clues, with Harry repeatedly backtracking to revisit people and places. Information is doled out to him in teaspoons. The plot is combined thriller and mystery--it's clear early on who is Liz's likely killer, but what lies behind the murder remains unclear.

    Edwards excels at creating an authentic sense of place: "Aneurin Bevan Height--the Nye, locals called it--was a thirteen-storey carbuncle in concrete. Had it housed prisoners, they would have mutinied long ago.... The block of flats loomed above a landscape of despair. Shops that, though open for trade, had their window boarded or barred. The busiest were the second-hand stores with their black and white sign boards proclaiming free social security estimates given. Unlettable maisonettes straggled along the side of streets that lacked pavements. Bent Lowry-women, bare-legged despite the cold, gathered in small nattering groups. You would only come here for a compelling reason, or if you had nowhere else to go."


    ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE introduces what looks to be an enjoyable series. (B)
     
  3. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    Jann Rowland's THE MISTRESS OF LONGBOURN is a 2016 e-book variant on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It makes major changes in the original story, the first of which has Mr. Bennet and his father breaking the entail on Longbourn. This frees Mr. Bennet to will the estate to his eldest surviving daughter. When the Bennet family except for Elizabeth and Kitty dies during an epidemic, Elizabeth becomes the mistress of Longbourn, under the guardianship of Mr. Gardiner until she comes of age. Elizabeth runs the estate, increasing its revenues and size, beginning a stud farm. She and Longbourn soon become the target of fortune-hunters.

    Charles Bingley and his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy come to the neighborhood about the same time as the Bennet sisters' mourning ends. They meet at the Meryton assembly, where Darcy is much struck by Elizabeth's charm and vivacity and Bingley is overcome by Kitty, whom he immediately singles out for attention, much to the disgust of Caroline Bingley. William Collins descends on the estate, claiming as head of the family his right to instruct and advise Elizabeth at least until she agrees to marry him, which he expects in short order. George Wickham soon joins the militia in Meryton and also pursues Elizabeth. The presence of both men complicates the developing relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy.

    Rowland does not change Elizabeth or Darcy in any important way, though he spins out Elizabeth's uncertainty about her feelings for Darcy. Georgina Darcy and Kitty Bennet are dynamic characters as they mature and gain insight into human nature. Caroline Bingley, Charles Bingley, William Collins, and George Wickham are worse than originally portrayed. Miss Bingley is delusional in her obsession with marrying Darcy and vengeance on Elizabeth. Charles Bingley is more fickle, forgetting Kitty in Hertfordshire with a succession of "angels" in London. Despite Caroline's verbal attacks and her plotting with Wickham to ruin Elizabeth's reputation, he breaks his years' friendship with Darcy because he lacks the intestinal fortitude to govern Caroline's behavior. Collins grovels more and seems incapable of understanding "no," that Elizabeth will never marry him, though Rowland redeems him somewhat through his listening to Darcy's advice about behavior proper to a gentleman. The scene in which Collins admonishes Miss Bingley with readings from Fordyce's Sermons is worth the price of the book. :rofl is more a thorough-going villain, given a second chance after his arrival in Meryton, who still plots with Caroline to ruin Elizabeth.


    Some editing problems bother me. The story is drawn out by frequent shifts in focus between characters, as is the epilogue which covers the future life of practically every major figure, including the Longbourn steward and his wife. Kittty's meeting Bingley with another woman at a ball in London seems based on Marianne's similar meeting with Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, though Kitty handles it with more self-respect. Their debate about names reflects Elizabeth and Darcy in the ending of the 2005 adaptation of Price and Prejudice. Implied-inferred are misused. A writer or speaker implies, a reader or listener infers.

    THE MISTRESS OF LONGBOURN is one of the better variations on Pride and Prejudice. (A-)
     
  4. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE, Vintage 2007, is the latest DVD set issued for the BBC's long-running comedy series. Written entirely by Roy Clarke, it follows the misadventures of Herbert Truelove, aka Truly of the Yard (played by Frank Thornton), Norman Clegg (Peter Sallis), Entwhistle (Burt Kwouk), and Alvin Smedley (Brian Murphy) as they mooch about and entertain themselves in retirement. The series changed following the death of Bill Owen, who played the irrepressible Compo Simmonite, adding several younger characters and using the visual equivalent of one-liners rather than a sustained sketch supported by glimpses of secondary characters. Strongest of the changes is the addition of skiving-off police officers (Ken Kitson. Louis Emerick) on a regular basis. While better than most comedies, LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE in its new incarnation never matched the original cast and writing in zaniness.

    Vintage 2007 includes ten episodes but no holiday special. "The Second Stag Night of Doggy Wilkinson" involves the quartet with the bachelor party for an 80-year-old about to marry for the second time. No doubt it is politically incorrect with its reliance on senility jokes, but getting the legless drunken Doggy home from the pub is a hoot. (A-) "What Happened to the Horse?" has the quartet setting Howard up by creating the legend of an Irish tinker who haunts a grove on the moors, knowing he will use the spot where no one ever goes to tryst with Marina; they plan for a ghostly visitation but are themselves surprised. (A) "Variations on a Theme of Road Rage" has Howard, desperate to venture further afield for privacy with Marina, purchase a wonderful car at a bargain price, only to discover its owner not dead but the victim of a vengeful wife. (B) "In Which Howard Gets Double Booked" has the quartet advise Howard on an appropriate venue for a meal out; he's been shamed into inviting Pearl and Nelly to dinner, but the men think he means Marina. They set the dinner up with her, then must go through an elaborate charade to keep the women from finding out. (B+) "Will the Nearest Alien Please Come In?" introduces Herman Teasdale, who in a blonde wig helps Alvin fool Nora Batty that he is entertaining a woman visitor. The quartet convince Kevin, met at the pub, that extraterrestrials have landed. (B+)

    "Elegy for Small Creatures and Clandestine Trackbikes" puts Tom Simmonite in mourning for the death two years before of his South American mouse Pablo, while Howard convinces Clegg to hide his new track bike from Pearl. This, of course, involves Clegg in unforeseen circumstances. (B+) "The Crowcroft Challenge" sets Alvin off on a charity challenge involving pursuing a route cross country "as the crow flies" while costumed as a crow; Howard and Marina go with him; Barry is embarrassed by his friends while bird watching and golfing, but the best bit is the drunk stealing the police car. (A) Smiler must polish up his dancing skills to respond to a personal ad saying "Must Be a Good Dancer." Most of the episode involves the group's misadventures as they try to photograph him in the guise of Fred Astaire. (A-) Howard's old girl friend Wanda is on the loose again in "Howard Remembers Where He Left His Pump." Planning on a day with Marina while the women are out of own at a baking competition, the quartet creates trouble for Howard with both Pearl and Marina. (B) In "Sinclair and the Wormley Witches" the quartet meets Sinclair on the moors; he's convinced that he is cursed by a coven of witches--aka the Wormley Witches, a woman's football team; Tom and Smiler "magically" remove the enchantment. (B+)

    LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE, Vintage 2007, is a good example of slice of life comedy. (B+)
     
  5. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    THE TEMPLARS' LAST SECRET is the tenth book in Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police series set in St. Denis, in the Perigord region of France.

    Spring is coming in, so Bruno is busy both personally and professionally. He is to serve as best man at the upcoming wedding of archaeologist friends Horst Vogelstern and Clothilde Daumier, he must get his vegetable garden planted, and fishing season is about to open. His good friend is the Police Nationale Jean-Jacque Jalipeau is under attack for failure to make a thirty-year-old pedophilia case against caregivers at the Mussaden orphanage. Only three people have reported the abuse, all former mental patients treated by the same psychiatrist Marie-France Dutieller, who used hypnosis to elicit their "recovered memories"; their only supporting witness is a former nun removed from duty at the orphanage for alcoholism. Bruno's also involved with the upcoming opening ceremonies for a scout camp funded to honor a farm family wh saved two Jewish children from the Germans in 1943-1944. New explorations are underway at the Chateau Commarque, a medieval fortress with ties to the Knights Templar, exciting seekers of the Templar treasure, whatever it may be. Plus Bruno will be shadowed for two weeks by a young representative from the Ministry of Justice Amelie Plessis, who's looking for ways to improve coordination between municipal police and the gendarmes. Then an unknown woman falls to her death while writing graffiti on the keep at Commarque, but her climbing rope and spray paint can are missing. Who is she, and what may the letters "I-F-T-I" mean?

    As usual, Bruno is larger than life in THE TEMPLARS' LAST SECRET, the policeman one hopes to find in time of need. His success rate is based on his friendships in the community, his understanding of human nature, and his intimate knowledge of St. Denis. His confidence is strong: "A very faint idea began to form and almost as quickly it went, too elusive to stay. He recognized these subterranean mental stirrings. Sometimes Bruno thought of these as hunches, and sometimes as an idea coming from a part of his brain that was not entirely his--a part formed of curiosity, experience and intuition--that kept churning, calculating and making hypotheses that would suddenly erupt as a breakthrough. He knew the components of this latest puzzle--an ancient chateau and an Arabic name, Crusaders and Templars, a modern woman falling or perhaps being pushed to her death--and at some point and in some mysterious way they would fall into a pattern that made sense to him." (67-8) Secondary characters are well-developed, though Walker brings back so many from earlier books that it's hard to keep track.

    The plot is very topical with ISIS active in France, but it's ragged in bringing together disparate elements. Despite the carnage wrought in pursuit of the Testament of Iftikhar, it is a plot device dropped before the climax. The death of the terrorist leader is ironically appropriate.

    Walker excels at using history to create sense of place. "To Bruno there were few sighs more impressive in the Perigord than the great sweep of the Grand Roc, a sheer cliff more than fifty meter high and nearly a kilometer in length, sweeping down the flank of the River Vezere as it flowed toward Les Eyzies. Almost halfway up the limestone wall was a long horizontal slash in the rock, an overhang that had created a gisement, or shelter, up to fifteen meters deep, in which humans had lived for some fifteen thousand years. They had left behind the richest and most impressive relics of the culture of the prehistoric peoples, their arrowheads and spearpoints of flint; their tools and barbed harpoons; their marvelously carved spear-throwers engraved with animals and hunter; their needles and knives, stone saws and scrapers; the awls they made to pierce reindeer hides so they could use sinews to sew garments together." (248) However, Walker's sensory appreciations of food, wine, and fellowship have become multipage menu-planning lists and instructions for recipes. :(

    While a good contemporary police mystery set in a fascinating area, THE TEMPLARS' LAST SECRET falls short of the best of the series. (B)
     
  6. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    Julia Middleton's IN WANT OF A WIFE is an e-book variant of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I do not find a publication date.

    The premise of IN WANT OF A WIFE is that Mr. Bennet's cousin Susan married an earl years older than herself. Susan Lacey is now widowed and well-to-do, childless and bored. She visits Longbourn to choose one of the Bennet sisters as a companion for a season in Bath; she plans to sponsor the girl in Society and hopefully to find her a good husband. She chooses Elizabeth as most like herself (Mrs. Bennet refuses to allow Jane to leave before wealthy bachelor Charles Bingley moves into leased Netherfield Park); Elizabeth accepts in order to meet more eligible men and to escape her mother.

    I'm giving up before Elizabeth completes her first evening party in Bath. Too much bothers me to continue. Language, writing style, and attitudes are thoroughly modern. Lady Lacey is an outspoken feminist, shockingly informal with servants and mocking of Society's rejection of those involved in Trade. As the widow of the earl, her title should be Dowager Countess. The final straw is Elizabeth's changeable hair color. At Longbourn, she is a messy tomboy with unruly black hair; by the first party in Bath, she has chestnut hair with red highlights, smooth creamy skin, wearing Lady Lacey's loaned diamonds.

    Sorry, I just can't hack it. No grade because not finished.
     
  7. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    DARCY'S WIFE SEARCH is the first book in Zoe Burton's Darcy Marriage series. It was published in e-book format in 2017.

    ~~~SPOILERS~~~

    Fitzwilliam Darcy is lonely. He's searched for a wife in London society for two years and has almost given up hope when he accidentally meets the Gardiner family with nieces Jane and Elizabeth Bennet in Hyde Park. He's charmed by Elizabeth's liveliness with young cousin James Gardiner and seeks acquaintance with the party. He knows of Edward Gardiner, celebrated designer and manufacturer of sporting guns, and develops a close friendship with the family as he courts Elizabeth. He soon introduces Charles Bingley, who's so taken with Jane that he leases Netherfield to be near her. By the time the girls return home, Darcy and Elizabeth are engaged and have Mr. Bennet's consent to their marriage. When they arrive at Longbourn, Mrs. Bennet greets Elizabeth with undisguised malevolence and insults Darcy as unworthy because he prefers her over Jane or Lydia. Darcy believes Elizabeth to be in danger of physical attack, so with Mr. Bennet's covert assistance, they are married that night by the special license brought from London. Mrs. Bennet cuts Elizabeth from her life and forbids all contact between Elizabeth and the family. The couple remain at Netherfield and attend the assembly, at which Mrs. Bennet accuses her daughter of alienating Mr. Bennet's affections from her. Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Goulding, Lady Lucas, and Jane herself all condemn her behavior to her face, and she is further infuriated by the arrival four days later of Mr. Collins with his "olive branch."

    This is where DARCY'S WIFE SEARCH ends, no resolution of any kind for any of the conflict, obviously to force the reader to buy book two. I feel cheated by this serialization because, by dictionary definition, a novella is "a story with a compact and pointed plot." (Merriam-Webster Unabridged On-Line) :mad:

    Angst between Elizabeth and Darcy is minimal; Burton gives the Bennets excellent connections, while Mr. Gardiner's exclusivity makes him sought after and respected by Society sportsmen. Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love and agree to marry quickly, their wedding hastened by Mrs. Bennet's rage. Darcy will not allow anyone, including her mother, to disrespect his wife. Jane shows unexpected strength to confront her mother. Mr. Bennet takes initiative to arrange for Elizabeth's communication with himself and her sisters, but he remains too weak to moderate his wife's behavior.

    The biggest change is in Fanny Bennet. Burton takes her beyond ridiculous and inappropriate into classic manic rages in which she spits out hatred and destroys property. Darcy and Mr. Bennet fear that she will do physical violence to her daughter if Elizabeth remains at Longbourn. I will read at least the next book in the series to see where Burton takes Mrs. Bennet''s mania.

    DARCY'S WIFE SEARCH gets two grades: plot, characters, writing (A-); serialization without notification (F).
     
  8. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    THE SLIP & THE CATCH is the sixth novella in the Natural Detective series by J. J. Salkeld, using many of the characters from the earlier Lakeland Murders series. It was published in e-book format in 2016.

    PC Kathy Stone of the Cumbria Constabulary is on routine electronic surveillance of passing cars to identify stolen, unregistered, uninspected, or uninsured cars, when the routine stop turns up an insurance scam on a local family. Her investigation leads to a larger fraud in which vehicle documents are stolen as basis for insurance on other vehicles, often used by drug couriers and other criminals. Meanwhile Kathy's lover Owen Irvine, walking his isolated farm, discovers a jar filled with small plastic bags of blue pills hidden near a gate. As a former copper, he knows that standard methods will only nab a low-level courier, so he consults with friend Ian Mann, Detective Sergeant at Kendal CID, to follow whoever picks up the drugs to identify the next-level dealer. In the meantime, the Regional Major Crimes Unit attempts to sort out the gang war developing from the power vacuum created by the incarceration at Her Majesty's pleasure of criminal boss Tommy Taylor. When Owen gives him the destination address of the drugs, Mann recognizes it as the home of a fellow police officer. Careers and lives are put on the line to capture both.

    I like most things about THE SLIP & THE CATCH. It's a focused fast read with a realistic plot in which teamwork fostered by both personal and professional relationships is important. DCI Andy Hall comes in only at the end, but many of his team are involved: Kathy Stone, Ian Mann, Abla Khan, Sandy Smith. It's enjoyable to meet them again since new hints of daily life and family history keep them fresh. Shifts in point of view between them are revealing. Seemingly disparate cases turn out to be related. Atmospheric description is reduced, but sense of place is authentic.

    I dislike the segment written from the bent copper's perspective and Salkeld's attempt to redeem him. I identify only a couple of editing issues. One is the name change in the original insurance fraud case, from Matthews to Thomas and back. The second is becoming a pet peeve--the use of "disorientated" as the past tense of the verb "disorient," a modern back-formation from the noun form "disorientation." The past tense is "disoriented." Picky old English teachers never die.

    THE SLIP & THE CATCH is a good choice for a summer afternoon in the shade with a glass of sweet tea. (A-)
     
  9. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    WHERE THE HEART LIVES is one of P. O. Dixon's variation novels based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is available in e-book format.

    ~~~SPOILERS~~~

    While Jane lies ill at Netherfield tended by Elizabeth, the Bennet house at Longbourn burns to the ground. The family escapes with Lydia saved by Fitzwilliam Darcy's daring rescue. Mrs. Bennet interprets his entering the burning building as a sign of his deep love for her daughter. She encourages Lydia to believe and, claiming Darcy compromised Lydia by carrying her out in his arms, spreads stories of an imminent engagement. Elizabeth Bennet is mortified and apologizes for her mother. Mr. Bennet's heir William Collins arrives to see that Longbourn is restored to its former glory and to choose a wife from the Bennet sisters. He prefers Jane but is willing to settle for Elizabeth. Both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet pressure Elizabeth to accept his proposal, disregarding her feelings and demanding she act in the best interests of the family. Her father disowns her when Elizabeth refuses. She, running away to the Gardiners in London, is robbed en route and misses the coach, to be rescued by Darcy. Their relationship develops, though Darcy is too aware of her low connections and horrible family to propose marriage. Jane, pressured by both parents, marries Collins and moves to Hunsford, inviting Elizabeth to visit. Darcy's visit to Rosings results in their Immediate engagement.

    Many things about WHERE THE HEART LIVES bother me. One problem is historical inaccuracy. Dixon refers to an entail passing over surviving daughters to settle an estate on a more distant male relation as "bizarre" when, in practice, the great majority followed the male line of descent; entails to divide between male and female descendants or to follow the female line were not unknown but were rare. Dixon has Darcy and Elizabeth traveling to London in his barouche in late November in the rain. A barouche is an open coach, only partially covered by a folding top, used for summer travel. Dixon writes of it as enclosed, with windows and curtains, and Darcy to ride outside with the coachman. I don't think so.

    A second problem involves pacing of the story. It develops in leisurely detail up to Darcy's retreat to Pemberley, filled with long ruminations about feelings and memories from both Darcy and Elizabeth. Major portions of letters provide exposition. Then suddenly, almost as if a required page or word count had been met, Dixon summarizes the action. Dixon covers the Bennet family's reaction to Elizabeth's marriage in three paragraphs, her return to Longbourn in two. There is no discussion of Jane's marriage.

    A third problem is introduction of sexual elements. At least three times, Dixon implies that Darcy has a visible erection; Elizabeth is aware of at least one. Both experience sexual day or night dreams, Elizabeth having one so intense that orgasm is implied. Rumors fly at Rosings of Darcy and Elizabeth in a "salacious position" following his accepted proposal; two other occasions hint that they anticipate their wedding vows. The earth's moving is not an earthquake, just Jane Austen turning over in her grave.

    My biggest objection is the change in characters. Darcy and Elizabeth are both inconsistent. Darcy, who wants to marry for love himself, intends an arranged marriage between Georgiana and Charles Bingley, regardless of her feelings; he behaves like a petulant child when Elizabeth tries to make him see Georgiana's position. Elizabeth, so decisive in her haste to leave Meryton, drifts along once she's in London with the Gardiners, Neither is very likable.

    Mr. Thomas Bennet is most displeasing. Dixon makes him more indolent and emotionally isolated than Austen's original. He carries many books and papers from his study but leaves Lydia for Darcy. He never thanks Darcy, either in person or in writing, for risking his life to save his youngest child. Mr. Bennet refuses to curb his wife's outrageous behavior following the fire. He does not plan to rebuild Longbourn unless Collins agrees to unspecified changes in the entail. He mocks and makes fun of everything about William Collins but, when Collins demands Elizabeth, Mr. Bennet details to her the advantages of the marriage. When she refuses, he unsuccessfully employs guilt and her love for him and her family to convince, and his parental authority to coerce, her agreement. His best interests of the family argument does manipulate the more compliant Jane. Mr. Bennet doesn't receive the Darcys at Longbourn before Darcy promises to see to the restoration of the manor house. He never apologizes to Elizabeth, supposedly his favorite daughter. If this is fatherly love, no thanks.

    WHERE THE HEART LIVES introduces an interesting premise, but it needs at last one more thorough revision. (D)
     
  10. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    MISS SEETON AT THE HELM is the eighth book in the Miss Seeton mystery series originated by Heron Carvic and the third continuation written by Hampton Charles. It was originally printed in1990 and reissued in e-book format in 2016.

    MISS SEETON AT THE HELM again brings together Custodian of the Queen's Collection of Objets de Vertu Sir Wormelow Tump, dealer in exclusive antiques and objets d'Art Ferenz Szabo (legal name Frank Taylor), and Plummergen magistrate Sir George Colveden. Szabo is involved in legal controversy over Professor Adrian Witley's authentication of a bust of Homer; not only does Szabow call the bust a fake, but he believes Witley has a long history of fraudulent activity. Already booked for a Halcyon Holidays cruise on which Tump and Witley are celebrity art experts, when Szabo decides to come along to observe Witley and his contacts, Sir George arranges with Scotland Yard for Miss Emily Seeton to take the cruise. Sir George believes her insightful sketches will be valuable. After two attempts on Szabo's life by Witley, someone smashes Witley's head with a fake statuette of Hercules. Suspects on the Eurydice include Witley's divorced wife, his current girlfriend, a compulsive gambler who owes him money, the gambler's lover whom he'd defrauded, and a criminal associate. Sir George manages to get the Oracle flown in to investigate and, as usual, MissEss's sketches provide the clues.

    I dislike elements of MISS SEETON AT THE HELM. Some problems involve the plot. The weakness of the motive makes the identity of the killer unsatisfying, especially when compared with the motives and opportunities of the suspects. Charles may be going for a variant on Chesterton's "The Invisible Man" since there is only vague one clue toward the killer. The resolution is too slick to be believable. There's little humor.

    ~~~POSSIBLE SPOILERS~~

    I most dislike the sexual elements in MISS SEETON AT THE HELM. Most segments involving Sir Wormelow Tump refer to his homosexuality. including specific reference to a liaison with a swishy-gay cabin steward, which the Oracle hushes up. Witley is a relentless womanizer who humiliates his lover in public and tries to blackmail one of the women suspects into having sex with him; Charles even makes him impotent when he's stressed. Mel Forby, just returned from a sensual two-week holiday with lover Thrudd Banner, falls into bed with drunken, married Alan Delphick; they plan several days together in Athens before returning to London. Even though not graphic, this sexual content disrupts the fantasy and whimsy of the original Miss Seeton stories. :mad:

    To add insult to injury, Charles has the uncannily perceptive Miss Seeton remain totally oblivious to the sexual undercurrents in MISS SEETON AT THE HELM. (D)
     
  11. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    MARY BENNET AND THE LONGBOURN HEIRESS is the first in Carrie Mollenkopf's Mary of Longbourn series. It is an e-book variant, no publication date given, of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

    Jane and Elizabeth Bennet marry as the story opens, leaving Mary alone at Longbourn with her parents since Kitty is visiting the Gardiners. Mr. Bennet is bedfast with gout, Mrs. Bennet is bedridden in hysterics over what will befall her if he dies, while Mary fears she will have to spend the rest of her life as their caregiver. Conditions are dire. After Mrs. Bennet's extravagant spending on the weddings, Meryton shopkeepers press for payment of the Longbourn accounts; Mary does all the chores formerly handled by Jane, Elizabeth, and herself, since almost all the servants have been let go; Longbourn's foundations require immediate repair. An apprentice is seriously injured when the mason removes a bricked-up portion of the decayed cellar wall to disclose a passage with four locked cells, in one of which is the skeleton of a woman. New Meryton physician Atlas Sutton, interested in forensic medicine and Mary Bennet, examines the remains and concludes the woman died many years before, probably of starvation. Mary is determined to discover the woman's identity so that she can have proper burial; Mrs. Bennet is determined to marry one of her daughters to the young doctor; Mr. Bennet is determined to drown his troubles in sherry. What Mary and the doctor discover changes everything at Longbourn.

    General comments will try to avoid spoilers. Style of writing is modern, as are the attitudes of both Sutton and Mary Bennet. He's very much ahead of his time in medicine and his attitude toward intelligent, independent women. He refers repeatedly to Mary's "need for closure" on the skeleton. Mary is interested in both botany and zoology, to the point that she observes their internal organs when animals are slaughtered for food; she knows she can manage Longbourn more profitably than her father. Sensible and practical, she wants independence, not marriage.

    Several elements of the story are anachronistic. Mary spends hours alone in Sutton's house/office giving hands-on help in examining the skeleton. She takes tea alone with him at the local pub without concern about or damage to her reputation. She attends the burial service for the woman identified as Lucy Bennet when, in Austen's day, gentlewomen did not. Lucy's journal begins 1 January 1721, specifically identified as New Year's Day, but in England until adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the new year began on the Feast Day of the Annunciation ("Lady Day"), 25 March. (Wiki) :buttrock

    Some minor problems involve editing and nomenclature. Is Mrs. Kincaid the Longbourn housekeeper, the cook, or both? She is identified as the cook, then as the housekeeper, with a later reference to Mrs. Kincaid AND the cook (Anna is the maid). The story only sketchily resolves the skeleton plot line, instead ending abruptly with a sample from the sequel to come. MARY BENNET AND THE LONGBOURN HEIRESS is novella length but should be more accurately called an installment in a serial publication, with this clearly indicated on its title page.

    The premise of MARY BENNET AND THE LONGBOURN HEIRESS has potential, but it needs better research, additional plot elements, and at least one thorough revision to become an effective novel. (C-)
     

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