1. Welcome to BookAndReader!

    We LOVE books and hope you'll join us in sharing your favorites and experiences along with your love of reading with our community. Registering for our site is free and easy, just CLICK HERE!

    Already a member and forgot your password? Click here.

Readingomnivore Reviews

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

  1. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    VANITY AND VENGEANCE is Linda Mako Kendrick's sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in digital format in 2017.

    I seem to be on a dry run in books. I'm quitting VANITY AND VENGEANCE at twelve percent. While many Austen fan fiction variants and sequels change so little that I wonder the purpose of retelling the same story, VANITY AND VENGEANCE changes too much.

    I don't like what Kendrick does to Austen's characters. Fitzwilliam and Elzabeth Bennet Darcy have been married ten years and have one son nearly eight years old. Darcy, already wealthy and owner of the magnificent Pemberley estate, now envies the elegance of Rosings and longs for a title and admission to Court. He disapproves of Elizabeth's reserved behavior toward Lady Catherine de Bough, who is still unreconciled to his marriage. He's frustrated by Georgiana's disinclination for social life and failure to choose a husband. Elizabeth practically swoons at meeting and dancing with the new Baron of Coxcroft, resolving never to be alone with him, yet slightly jealous of his attention to Georgiana. She resents Bingley's dependence on Darcy, remembering that the last favor he solicited from her husband nearly ruined their marriage. Colonel Fitzwilliam plans to marry Anne de Bourgh only if his financial terms are met; Elizabeth wonders if he still regrets that her lack of dowry made her ineligible. The colonel still regrets not killing George Wickham and openly hopes that Wickham rot in hell. These are not Austen's people.

    Plot changes are significant. Darcy discovers in Lambton Etienne Foucauld, aka the Fox, a Frenchman looking for revenge. His sister Magdeleigne Foucauld left France some twenty years before in the company of an English smuggler who promised marriage but seduced and abandoneand her in London with only one means of survival. Later an unidentified male acquaintance sought Darcy's help to rid himself of her. Then known as Madelyn Fox, given a maid's job at Pemberley, she tries to seduce Darcy, who ejects her. Set up by a pimp in Lambton to prostitute, eventually pregnant and mentally ill, she names Darcy as the child's father. Darcy's charity seems to confirm her assertion, as does theson's placement at her death in the household of Charles and Jane Bennet Bingley. Darcy refuses to duel Foucauld, instead offering a contest. Foucauld agrees to choose any horse in the Darcy stables to race Darcy; if he wins, he retains the horse with honor satisfied; if Darcy wins, Foucauld leaves. Darcy wins, but Foucauld means to take Pierre, now known as Peter, to France.

    Something involving Lydia and George Wickham is afoot. For years before inheriting the title from an ancient great-uncle, the new Baron of Coxcroft had served in the merchant navy. Is he the English smuggler? Kendrick clearly has major changes to the original story line in store. My willingness to suspend disbelief is overwhelmed.

    No grade because not finished.
     
  2. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    MISCHIEF AND MISUNDERSTANDING is Cassandra Knightley's novella adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The second in her Darcy and Elizabeth Sweet Variations series, it was published in digital format in 2017.

    Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work. (Wiki) Because the original plays of William Shakespeare are in public domain, Knightley is not guilty of infringement of copyright, but she is guilty of plagiarizing Much Ado About Nothing for most of the plot of MISCHIEF AND MISUNDERSTANDING. She assigns the main roles: Elizabeth Bennet as Beatrice, Darcy as Benedick, Jane Bennet as Hero, Bingley as Claudio, Colonel Fitzwilliam as Don Pedro, Mr. Bennet as Leonato, and George Wickham (now acknowledged as Darcy's half-brother) as Don John. Caroline Bingley is the cat's paw Wickham uses to set up Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam to witness "Jane Bennet" having intercourse with a manservant on the eve of her wedding. The action reflects the events of the play including the war of wit between Elizabeth and Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam's masquerade-ball proxy courtship of Jane for Bingley, the trick to convince Elizabeth and Darcy of their mutual love, the men's denunciation of Jane at the altar, her supposed death, Darcy's challenge to Bingley, and Jane's resurrection. Most of this section's dialogue is Shakespeare in Regency paraphrase. At no point does Knightley disclose her appropriation of Shakespeare.

    Knightley's change to Austen's original has a tipsy Darcy at the Netherfield bal kiss Elizabeth Bennet and confess his love, after which he and Bingley disappear for two years. Before the couples meet again, an ancient great-uncle dies, making the Bennet girls' parents Lord and Lady Bennet, with wealth and the Messina Grove estate in Cheshire. Mr. Collins, vicar of Messina Grove Parish, relays Lady Catherine's request that Lord Bennet offer hospitality to her nephews and a small party passing through Cheshire. His invitation initiates the lovers' reunions.

    Lord and Lady Bennet are better behaved than the originals, but Knightley coarsens the other characters. Both Elizabeth and Darcy are abrasive and willfully mistaken about the other. Jane should have "Welcome" inscribed on her forehead, she's such a doormat in instantly forgiving Bingley not only for his two-year desertion but for publicly shaming her. She consciously chooses to ignore the implied threat to their marital happiness demonstrated in his disbelief in her integrity. Darcy becomes tipsy twice, but Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam are both heavy drinkers. Caroline is so obsessed with destroying the Bennet sisters' reputations that she becomes Wickham's willing accomplice. Wickham's motive is the adrenaline rush from causing as much trouble as possible.

    Usual problems show up. Simple plural of the Bennet name is given as "Bennet's." Knightley uses superlative degree of comparison (three or more items)--"dearest"--to refer to one--"dear." Misused words elude SpellCheck: bear/bare, dower/dour, brushed/blushed. Caroline's maid who impersonates Jane is first called Penny, then Polly. Elizabeth come upon Darcy just after he's fallen into the lake, and she gets a good eyeful of his clinging shirt and trousers front (Colin Firth, 1995). Knightley also reprises Benedick's splashing in the fountain scene from Branagh's 1993 Much Ado About Nothing. Knightley provides no back story to Mr. Bennet's inheritance, not even his full title, nor does she detail Wickham's changed circumstances.

    An accurate attribution of authorship for MISCHIEF AND MISUNDERSTANDING is William Shakespeare, edited by Cassandra Knightley. No grade because I do not presume to judge the work of William Shakespeare
     
  3. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    LOWCOUNTRY BONFIRE is the eighth book in Susan M. Boyer's Liz Talbot mystery series set on Stella Maris Island just off the Charleston, South Carolina, coast. It was published in digital format in 2017.

    The next day after private investigators Liz Talbot and her husband Nate Andrews turn over photographic evidence of infidelity, all the neighbors including Liz's parents turn out to watch Tammy Sue Lyerly's revenge. She piles all of straying husband Zeke's clothes in his prized Raven Black 1969 Mustang convertible and sets them on fire. Unfortunately, Zeke is in its trunk, dead of strychnine poisoning. With greater experience in homicide investigations than the local police, on retainer from the Stella Maris town council as outside investigators, Liz and Nate lead the case. They discover that Zeke's wild stories about the twenty years he'd spent off Stella Maris may not all have been tall tales and that his behavior had changed significantly after a beach bonfire party in March. Does his death come from his hidden years, or does it somehow originate at the party?

    I like the Liz Talbot series. Characters are quirky yet believable. "By far the most outrageous story [Zeke] ever told purportedly occurred during his years with the DEA, fighting the drug war in the South American jungles. It involved an anaconda, a nuclear missile, a sexy French missionary, and the crazed drug lord who had been holding her hostage. According to Blake's calculations, if everything Zeke Lyerly said were true, he'd have to be 235 years old." (11) Boyer provides a range of suspects with realistic motives without multiplying nonessential characters.

    Liz as first person narrator has an appropriate Southern storytelling voice. Sense of place is outstanding. Boyer is adept at incorporating both physical locale and ambiance. At Zeke's self-planned memorial service, "...Blake and his band, the Back Porch Prophets, started playing. They alternated sets with a DJ so they could enjoy the party too. John and Alma Glendawn had put together a buffet to Zeke's specifications, and it had all his favorites: Caribbean shredded pork, black beans, saffron rice, fried plantains, shrimp and grits, cold peel-and-eat shrimp, Lowcountry Boil, and fried oysters. For dessert there was pineapple pudding or homemade ice cream. And there was an open bar. As Zeke had wanted, there was food, revelry, dancing, and liquor. Mamma didn't quite know what to make of it." (158) Talbot family dynamics ring true.

    Boyer exploits the experienced reader's preconceptions to hide the killer in the jumble of Zeke's past, his past and present wives and his lover, an unsatisfactory employee, feral hogs, drone surveillance of his back yard, and a deceased plumber who anticipated for years the arrival of aliens and the mother ship. I do have complaints about the plot. The supernatural element involving Colleen, Liz's deceased friend now the guardian spirit of the island, grows as Liz's recurrent nightmares foretell a natural disaster striking Stella Maris. A shooting attack on Liz and Nate is gratuitous and out of the previously-established character of the killer. First foreshadowing of the killer's motive arrives only on page 192 of 221. Liz's confrontation with the killer feels artificial, the conclusion rushed and cursory.

    Most of LOWCOUNTRY BONFIRE is pleasurable reading. (B+)
     
  4. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    THE FACES OF LOVE is Arthel Cake's variation on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in e-book format in 2017.

    Cake makes MAJOR changes in the original story. Fitzwilliam Darcy is a widower, having married his cousin Anne de Bourgh on her pleading and his uncle's urging to save her from her mother Lady Catherine de Burgh. Even after the marriage Lady Catherine made her daughter so miserable that Darcy denied her admittance to Pemberley. When notified of her daughter's final illness, Lady Catherine fails to respond or to attend her funeral, but still campaigns to recover Rosings, which passed to Darcy upon his marriage. Darcy refuses, and Lady Catherine vows to have what she considers hers by right, no matter what it takes. Darcy, after his year of mourning, visits Netherfield, where he meets and immediately falls in love with Elizabeth Bennet. She's drawn into Lady Catherine's machinations, which involve suborning Pemberley servants, using information about Ramsgate from George Wickham and Mrs. Younge for blackmail, and spreading gossip that could forever ruin Elizabeth Bennet Darcy's reputation. Foiled by Darcy from profiting from Lady Catherine, Wickham plans revenge on the whole Darcy family. As the couple move through their engagement and early marriage, their mutual trust and love grow while Elizabeth assumes her role as mistress of Pemberley.

    Cake's opening up the original story, once past the shock of Darcy as a childless widower, is enjoyable. Lady Catherine's back story explains but does not excuse her treatment of Anne and her crusade to recover Rosings. The Bennet family at Longbourn back story explains but does not justify Mrs. Bennet's relentless pursuit of husbands for her daughters and her dislike of Elizabeth. Wickham finally receives poetic justice. While most of the action comes from Cake and not Austen, the story is unified and flows naturally from character.

    Cake is reasonably faithful to Austen's original characters, especially Elizabeth and Darcy. The insult at the Meryton assembly and George Wickham's story do not occur to arouse Elizabeth's animosity toward Darcy, so angst is minimal. Both seem more modern in attitude than Regency, at least in part because they deal with problems common to both periods: responsibilities to others, changes in circumstance, past secrets, a woman desperate for a child, spousal abuse, recalcitrant relatives. Some changes in character are attractive. Charles Bingley has a spine and deals with Caroline's criticism, as does Jane Bennet. William Collins is a sensible man, not a fawning fool. The Hursts deplore and refuse to support Caroline's behavior. New characters, mostly the Matlocks and individuals in local society in Derbyshire, are well-handled.

    Editing is good with only a few word choice problems caused by spellchecking. Is Mr. Hurst's Christian name Miles or Milton? A few possible anachronisms intrude. It's improbable that Darcy uses parchment to write Elizabeth a note. It's not appropriate for Georgiana, not yet out in Society, to wear a diamond necklace, especially so at tea time. Darcy gives Elizabeth a white gold diamond engagement ring, though diamonds became popular as such only after the South African strikes in the late 1860s. He puts it on her right hand. Pemberley's lavish holiday decorations that include a fully bedecked Christmas tree are more mid-Victorian than Regency.

    It's easy to get caught up in the story in THE FACES OF LOVE. Recommended. (A)
     
  5. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    FOLLIES PAST is Melanie Kerr's prequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, set some two years before the original story, hence omitting the Bennet family altogether. It was published in digital format in 2013.

    FOLLIES PAST opens with Caroline Bingley's campaign to become Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and thereby elevate herself and her family into Society's first circles. It segues into Darcy's decision to withdraw fourteen-year-old Georgiana from boarding school to establish her in London with a governess / chaperone for private tuition from masters. To this end Mrs. Younge, recommended by Lady Sofia Branson, daughter of a Derbyshire neighbor, is hired, and Georgiana's best (only) friend from school, Clare Langford, is invited to be her companion and share her lessons. George Wickham is on the scene, involved first with Caroline then, with aid from Mrs. Younge and Lady Sofia, Georgiana. Courtship ensues, Clare discovers the planned elopement from Ramsgate, but can she save Georgiana from her folly?

    Where to begin? The action of the story seems plausible if one accepts the premises, yet common sense dictates some disbelief. Would any responsible adult hire a governess so casually? What's the point of Clare's elaborate backstory? How may the discrepancies in Viscount Ashwell's story be reconciled? Would the unmarried daughter and son of Lord Brackenhall live permanently in London while both parents reside in Derbyshire? How proper is it for Clare to spend an entire day alone with Viscount Ashwell? Is romance between Clare and the Viscount likely? The expedition to Strawberry Hill seems based on the Box Hill picnic in Emma and even more on the visit to Sotherton in Mansfield Park, with its argument over who rides on the box of the carriage with the driver.

    Several important individuals in FOLLIES PAST seem composites of characters from other Austen novels. Lady Sofia Branson combines Marianne Dashwood's extravagant sensibilities with Catherine Morland's view of life as a gothic novel; her machinations in Wickham's courtship of Georgiana recall Mary Crawford's morality. Sir Leicester Crawley, Clare's cousin, blends Mr. Colllins's uncouth appearance and love of gossip with Mr. Rushworth's stupidity and reliance on his mother. Clare Langford, from whose viewpoint much of the novel is seen, is an unlikely melange of Fanny Price and Catherine Morland. Her background is similar to Fanny's--born in relative poverty, taken in by her betters, pressed to cultivate advantageous connections for herself and her brother; she shares Elizabeth Bennet's pressure to marry an unappealing cousin to retain the family's home. Like Catherine Moreland, her thinking is largely formed from gothic novels but, more like Fanny Price, she is deeply ashamed of her reading tastes. Her moral sense is so exaggerated that she fears corruption of her thinking by a visit to Strawberry Hill, home of Horace Walpole, author of the first gothic novel The Castle of Otranto (1764). Like Fanny, she observes and judges others' actions while doing to correct them but, like Mary Bennet, moralizes to herself about them. Her similarity to Fanny is so exact that Clare wears an amber cross gift as her adornment at her first ball.

    Mostly off-stage in FOLLIES PAST, Kerr's Darcy is a caricature of Austen's. He is pompous, priggish, and arrogant to the point of absurdity. Described as a doting brother, he nevertheless sent Georgiana to an exclusive boarding school when she was old enough and maintained too little communication to know her deep unhappiness and isolation there. Without consulting her, knowing Georgiana's shyness and dread of crowds, he plans to introduce her to Society the next Season, at least two years earlier than customary. Planning Georgiana's marriage to Charles Bingley, Darcy is confident that he knows what's best and that he can manipulate both despite their individual inclinations. Darcy puts Mrs. Younge and Clare in continual personal contact with Georgiana without a check on either's background or subsequent follow-up on the situation in the household. Invited to help Bingley choose an estate, he leaves for an indefinite stay with only Mrs. Younge in his London household having his contact information. In Hertfordshire, he countermands Bingley's first property choice. He is critical of Viscount Ashwell's handling of the woman in his past, yet he seriously considers marrying Caroline Bingley. 'Nuff said.

    Two grades for FOLLIES PAST: potential (A), as written (C-).
     
  6. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    SHAKESPEARE AND THE COUNTESS; THE BATTLE THAT GAVE BIRTH TO THE GLOBE is Chris Laoutaris's account of the life of Elizabeth Cooke Hoby Russsell, who styled herself Dowager Countess of Bedford. Her 1596 petition prevented the Lord Chamberlain's Men from opening an indoor theatre near her home in the Blackfriars district of London; the prohibition led to the Burbages dismantling The Theatre in Shoreditch, moving the materials across the Thames, and using them to build The Globe Theatre. It was published in 2014.

    Much more is known about the life of Lady Elizabeth Russell than about that of William Shakespeare, thus SHAKESPEARE AND THE COUNTESS is essentially her story. Elizabeth Russell would have stood out in any age, but in her day she and her sisters were paragons of erudition and activism. Their father was Sir Anthony Cooke, tutor along with John Cheke of Edward VI. Devoted to Reformist (Puritan) religious principles, he followed the Humanist educational philosophies of Desiderius Erasmus and Sir Thomas More to teach all his children. His sons were overshadowed by the scholastic mastery of his daughters: Mildred, Anne, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Katherine.

    Elizabeth Russell's life was the product not just of high intelligence and superb education but also of connections. Her mother Anne Fitllzwilliam Cooke inherited vast estates from a great-uncle Sir Edward Belknap; her father worked under the auspices of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, and Queen Catherine Parr. Her brother William married into the family of Lady Jane Grey; their son married the daughter of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote. Older sister Mildred married William Cecil (later Lord Burghley), the most powerful man in England throughout the reign of Elizabeth I, making Sir Robert Cecil Elizabeth Russell's nephew. Sister Anne married Sir Nicholas Bacon, hence Russell nephews Anthony and Sir Francis Bacon.

    Elizabeth Cooke married first Sir Thomas Hoby, translator into English of Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier, which he dedicated to Henry Harding, later Earl of Huntington, a potential successor to the throne. Hoby served as ambassador to Paris where Elizabeth observed first hand the French war of religion. Their son Sir Edward Hoby married Margaret Carey, daughter of longtime friend Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain (said to be the son of Henry VIII by Mary Boleyn) who sponsored the acting company. Son Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby married Margaret Dakins, widow of Walter Devereux (brother of Robert Devereaux, 2nd Earl of Essex) and of Thomas Sidney (brother of Sir Philip Sidney). Elizabeth Cooke Hoby married John Russell, son of 2nd Earl of Bedford, longtime close friend of the Cecils and possessed of impeccable Reformist principles. John Russell died before succeeding his father as Earl, though Elizabeth called herself and behaved as Dowager Countess for the rest of her life. Daughter Anne Russell married Henry Somerset, 2nd Marquis of Worcester. It is practically impossible to overstate the importance of Elizabeth Russell's network of kin and connections.

    Elizabeth Russell's achievements were extraordinary. "She was the first female in the country to become her Queen's soldier, acquiring the Keepership of her own castle--an office with martial responsibilities which had traditionally been the preserve of men alone. A committed religious radical and activist, she operated at the heart of a network of extremists whose secret operations stretched across Europe. She involved herself in the murky world of Elizabethan espionage, becoming a spy and detective for the English intelligence services and wading with alacrity into some of the most infamous conspiracies ever to have rocked the royal throne. Renowned throughout Europe for her uncommon learning, she was a poet, linguist, and celebrated designer of the country's most innovative monuments to the great and the good of Elizabethan society. Taking up the gauntlet for those less fortunate than herself, she was protector of orphans and an early champion of women's rights. Time and time again her conflicts led her into scandalous legal suits, acts of rioting, violent affray, kidnapping, breaking and entering, illegal imprisonment, and armed combat. To her warfare had become second nature." (7-8)

    Reducing her fight against the opening of the Burbages' indoor theatre in the Blackfriars to Puritans versus the actors is a temptation but also an oversimplification of a complex situation. Part of Elizabeth Russell's opposition was undoubtedly based on personal inconvenience. With the theatre less than two hundred feet from her house, foot traffic, noise, sanitation, and security would be problems. Music to attract viewers and sound effects would disrupt daily services at nearby St. Anne's Church, filled with Reformists (Puritans) already opposed plays as corrupting influences. Elizabeth's campaign asserted her ownership of the Blackfriars house and her leadership in both the Blackfriars district and the Reformist movement. It aided and supported the district's rapidly growing population of French and Dutch religious refugees, blamed by locals as competition for scarce jobs and rapid price inflations and targeted for violence where large crowds gathered. The Dowager's petition was part of the assertion and defense of the district's status as a liberty, an area not subject to control by the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London. The controversy even ascended into national politics with the acting company's involvement in the ongoing power struggle between the Cecils and Essex.

    Someone unfamiliar with the Elizabethan period may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of names in SHAKESPEARE AND THE COUNTESS. Certainly it appeals to a specialized interest. Though it contains chapter notes rather than individual foot or end notes, it is not written as popular history. It is well-indexed, which minimizes the need for a list of characters, with a closely printed sixteen-page bibliography for further reading. Much is based on primary sources. A detailed Cooke family tree and a diagram of the Blackfriars property are most welcome. A timeline that parallels events in the live of Elizabeth Russell and William Shakespeare would be helpful. (A)
     
  7. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    MARGARET DASHWOOD'S DIARY is the first in Anna Elliott's Sense and Sensibility mystery series based on the novel by Jane Austen. It was published in digital format in 2013.

    Margaret Dashwood, longing to feel accepted, has tried since the death of her father five years before to conform to the behavior and attitudes of a young Society lady, concealing her adventurous spirit and love of nature. She engages herself to Aubrey Neville, wealthy and proud, but she breaks the engagement when he tests her devotion with a false claim to have lost his fortune. To recover her equanimity, she visits Delaford House in Dorsetshire, home of Colonel and Mrs. Christopher Brandon, to spend time with pregnant sister Marianne while the Colonel has been recalled to lead the search for smugglers in Weymouth. Older sister Elinor lives with her husband Edward Ferrars in the vicarage at Delaford. Life is uneventful, though both Margaret and Marianne are tired of the prolonged stay of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, until Mr. and Mrs. John Willoughby arrive in the neighborhood. Both Marianne and Palmer are soon detected slipping out at night, and Margaret fears a liaison between her sister and Willoughby. In the meantime, Margaret discover camping in the woods an old friend from childhood, Jamie Cooper, a Romany boy whose tribe had worked the harvest at Norland Park for years before her father's death. He's burning with fever, ill from an infected gunshot wound in his back. What is going on at Delaford?

    As explained in the Foreword, characters in MARGARET DASHWOOD'S DIARY are closer to those of Ang Lee's film, screenplay by Emma Thompson, than to those of Jane Austen. Margaret is the film character grown up to eighteen years old, impulsive and prone to TSTL moments such as twice going into the woods alone at night when she knows smugglers are about, to look for Jamie. Attitudes are more modern than Regency, especially in the acceptance of Eliza Williams and her illegitimate daughter Joanna and of Jamie Cooper as a Romany. Elliott leaves Elinor a background figure while assigning Marianne much of the drive and practicality of Austen's original Elinor. Colonel Brandon and Edward Ferrars are undeveloped, while Jamie Cooper recalls Disney's Aladdin as the fairy-tale lowborn hero.

    The story flows well, but common sense objections arise. Aubrey Neville's fortune is based on plantations, more probable for the West rather than the East Indies. The reason for the Willoughbys' settlement in the Delaford neighborhood is improbable given Mrs. Willoughby's personality. Why does Colonel Brandon change his arrival home from Friday to the following Tuesday, and why? Is it likely that all Colonel Brandon's men leave him wounded and unguarded at Delaford with the smugglers still around? The role of the horse Star seems contrived, another fairy tale element that enhances the implied eventual happy ending. Even if he becomes a commissioned Army captain and thus by status an acceptable suitor for Margaret, Jamie remains a Romany and, as such, their marriage would be considered miscegenation. The mystery story line is not resolved--the local head of the smugglers (completely unforeshadowed) is identified but not captured, the gang is still at large, and an un-named higher level villain is introduced. Obviously, the series will continue.

    MARGARET DASHWOOD'S DIARY is enjoyable, but don't overthink it. (B+)
     
  8. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    BUBBA AND THE CURIOUS CADAVER is the eighth book in C. L. Bevill's Bubba Snoddy mystery series set in Pegram County, Texas. It was published in digital format in 2017.

    Bubba has a busy day planned. He's bought the wood he needs, he's delivered a casserole to the family of a dying friend, and he's headed home to begin work on a state-of-the-art crib for his and Willodean's baby, due in three months. When he passes a woman stranded beside a car on a deserted stretch of road, Bubba reluctantly goes back to help. Cayenne Pepper urgently needs a ride to her job as an exotic dancer at Bazooka Bob's, a gentleman's club. Against his better judgment, Bubba takes her to the club, to discover that it now belongs to an old acquaintance from Dallas, Bam Bam Jones, who'd helped him find Willodean when she'd gone missing. Bam Bam has a problem--there's a man in his bathroom who looks exactly like him, only in a suit and dead from a gunshot to the head. He wants Bubba to solve the murder before they notify the police. The situation at Bazooka Bob's is complicated by the efforts of Bubba's mother Miz Demetrice Snoddy to organize the dancers into a union, and then, when she discovers Bam Bam is going broke, to find them alternative employment. Convinced by his examination of the body and its removal by "plumbers" in black suits that federal law enforcement is involved, Bubba is soon abducted by agents from Homeland Security on the trail of an international terrorist expected to show up at Bazooka Bob's. Is the murder connected with the manhunt?

    I like Bevill's Southern story telling voice. "The crowd was about as inconspicuous as a hog sitting on a sofa watching a soap opera." She is skilled in using limited third person point of view to reveal Bubba's personality, occasionally shifting the focus to Willodean Gray Snoddy, the highly professional deputy in the Pegram County Sheriff's Department. The intrusive narrator adds humor that helps maintain a conversational tone: Bubba regarded "...the crowd of women watching the scene like they were watching a train about to plunge off a 1000-foot-tall cliff. To be perfectly specific, the conductor had just dramatically increased the steam pressure, and he was jumping for it while leaving a concrete block on the gas pedal. (Did trains have gas pedals? Probably not, but since it was Bubba's metaphor, he could have a gas pedal on a train.)" The scene when it all goes down at Bazooka Bob's is worth the price of the book.

    Characters and plot are over the top, but Bevill makes it easy to relax and enjoy the foolishness. (A-)
     
  9. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    AND THEN LOVE is the first novella in Leenie Brown's Willow Hall series of variants on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is available as a stand alone or as part of the Kindle bundle The Willow Hall Romance. I do not find a publication date.

    The recent death of her father leaves Lucy Tolson at the mercy of her depraved uncle Angus Tolson who inherits the Willow Hall estate. She knows he will waste the estate and her dowry, and she fears him physically since he'd already once assaulted (but not molested) her. If she is still unmarried in two months, Tolson will force her to live with his family, to be used as a servant until he can dispose of her to the highest bidder. Desperate, she approaches childhood friend and neighbor Philip Dobney, curate at Kympton who's about to replace retiring vicar Mr. Harker. They agree to marry as soon as banns can be called. But Tolson and George Wickham arrive to blackmail Lucy with threats to ruin her reputation and prevent her marriage. Can they be stopped without scandal?

    Fitzwilliam Darcy as patron of the Kympton living and George Wickham as its belated claimant are the only canonical characters included in AND THEN LOVE though Charles and Caroline Bingley are mentioned. All are consistent with Austen's originals. Brown adds only seven new individuals, all believably developed. It is particularly satisfying that Angus Tolson's well-deserved end arises from his dissolute nature.

    Brown's plot moves logically, though Reverend Harker's evidence and Constable Williams's enmity against Tolson approach the limits of coincidence. Reference to Angus Tolson and his brother Simon as "Cain and Able" is the only mistake I noticed. AND THEN LOVE is a quick, pleasant read. (A-)
     
  10. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    THE TENANT'S GUEST is the second installment in Leenie Brown's Willow Hall novella series based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The novellas are available as individual titles or as part of The Willow Hall Romance Kindle bundle. I do not find a publication date.

    Elizabeth Bennet is the guest of Harold and Cecily Abbott of Willow Hall, tenants and neighbors of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Mrs. Abbott is Marjorie Gardiner's sister, hostessing Elizabeth until the Gardiners and Jane Bennet arrive to tour of Derbyshire. Elizabeth has repented of her furious refusal of Darcy at Hunsford and, when he arrives unexpectedly at Pemberley, accepts his renewed proposal gladly. She's upset by news of Lydia's flirtation with George Wickham in Brighton and writes to her father. Before Mr. Bennet can remove her, Lydia runs away with George Wickham. Elizabeth blames herself. Lucy Tolson Dobney convinces Elizabeth that she cannot put Darcy through the devastation of another rejection, and Darcy emphatically refuses her offer to free him of their engagement. Arriving at Willow Hall without consideration for her reputation, Lydia refuses absolutely to marry Wickham, then she disappears again

    I dislike these rising action installments that resolve nothing. In THE TENANT'S GUEST the only conclusive action is Darcy and Elizabeth's engagement. Surprise! This serial publication seems designed to maximize revenue rather than to develop a unified story.

    Most all the canonical characters--Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, Mr. Bennet, the Gardiners, Bingley--are reasonably faithful to Austen originals. Angst for Elizabeth and Darcy is minimal. Wickham as developed in AND THEN LOVE would have raped Lydia rather than allow her to deny him. Jane shows interest in two potential replacements for Bingley. Brown continues the new characters from AND THEN LOVE and introduces new Dobney family members, none much developed and most thus far tangential to the plot. Lydia is most changed and not improved. She's still the rampant flirt, but she is a skilled schemer absolutely determined to have her own way, easily out-manipulating Wickham.

    This second installment seems superficial, a rush to get through Darcy and Elizabeth's story and move on to other things. (C)
     
  11. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    SO VERY UNEXPECTED is the third installment in Leenie Brown's Willow Hall Romance variants on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is available as a stand alone novel or as part of a Kindle bundle. I do not find a publication date.

    SO VERY UNEXPECTED focuses on preserving Lydia Bennet's reputation without her marrying George Wickham. She proposes to pay him off with her dowry after he signs a statement of her innocence; the men all know, however, that whenever Wickham runs out of money, he'll be back to demand more. His signed statement is no defense against the gossip he can easily begin. The best protection for Lydia is marriage in Derbyshire, where her indiscretion is not known outside the Darcy, Dobney, and Bennet families. But to whom?

    SO VERY UNEXPECTED contains little external action beyond daily slice of life. It presumes knowledge of the first two installments. Lydia becomes temporary companion to Lucy Dobney's Aunt Tess, who defends her and begins teaching her how to manage an estate household, and she charms Marcus's father by learning to play chess. Most of the story develops Marcus's love and determination to protect Lydia and her confusion that her customary tactics seem not to affect him. The only conclusive element is their engagement, with Marcus and Lydia planning to wed at Michaelmas.

    Brown's Lydia sounds more than ever like an out-of-control teenager on Dr. Phil. Brown blames her inappropriate behavior on lack of positive attention from Mr. Bennet ("he always liked Lizzy best") and on maternal pressure to marry well so that Lydia's husband might support Mrs. Bennet in widowhood. Jane and Lizzy make her feel like an outsider, and the Gardiners never invite her for extended visits to Gracechurch Street. Her scheming, forgery, and propensity to lie are essential skills if one grows up with four sisters. She's so young and terribly misunderstood. Enough already! Lydia is sixteen years old in a period that did not artificially prolong adolescence, old enough to marry thus old enough to understand the consequences of her choices. Her behavior reveals her sense of entitlement--she ran away with Wickham because she was bored in Brighton, and it wasn't fair that Elizabeth and Jane were having more fun in Derbyshire. Marcus Dobney, who's twelve years older, should know better. (C-)
     
  12. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    AT ALL COSTS is the fourth and final installment in Leenie Brown's Willow Hall Romance series based on characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is available as a stand alone novel or as part of the Willow Hall Romance Kindle bundle. I found no date of publication.

    AT ALL COSTS focuses on Charles Bingley's resumed relationship with Jane Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam's courtship of Mary Ellen Dobney. Most of the story involves ordinary daily activities. Not believing Charles Bingley to back his threats, George Wickham breaches their contract and encourages the spread of salacious rumors about Jane, Elizabeth, and Lydia Bennet, thereby bringing down his well-deserved karma. Bingley cuts off sister Caroline, source of the story that Jane and Elizabeth are unchaste. The gossip brings Lady Catherine de Bourgh to Kympton to forbid the banns for Darcy and Elizabeth.

    Some characters are inconsistent with Austen's originals, others from themselves as previously developed by Brown. Lady Catherine de Bourgh would never give up her attempt to prevent Darcy's marriage so easily. Elizabeth is self-effacing to the point of disappearing. Darcy is passive to the slander to Elizabeth, leaving Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam to deal with Wickham. The biggest change is in Charles Bingley. Brown presents him first as too easy-going and ineffectual to think for himself, then morphs him into a ruthless entrepreneur with underworld connections, perfectly willing and able to have Wickham shanghaied and disposed of at sea. Even in dealing with his own subordinate Captain Harris, Colonel Fitzwilliam defers to Bingley's leadership. The change is too much mild-mannered Clark Kent changing into the Man of Steel.

    AT ALL COSTS, despite drawing together the story lines, feels flat. Even the moments of high drama, such as Bingley and the colonel in confrontation with Wickham and his minion, lack a sense of immediate action. They are reported, not shown. Captain Harris's back story has shock value but is tangential to the plot. The horrific gossip simply disappears with no lasting effects. Angst over it or the relationships is minimal. There's a distinct "let's get this thing over with" vibe.

    Other bothersome elements include gratuitous changing of names. Colonel Forster becomes Forrester and Forester, the Gardiners become Gardeners. Books 2-4 include every previous character, even if their role is nonessential in the current installment. Many are minimally characterized; for instance, though he plays an essential role, Captain Harris has no Christian name. Families are omnipresent. Proposals of marriage, objection to marriage, confessions, repetition of gossip, lovers' embraces--all occur in the presence of assorted combinations of Bennets, Darcys, Abbots, Bingleys, Donbeys, and Colonel Fitzwilliam.

    AT ALL COSTS is not memorable. (C-) The Willow Hal Romance series (C)
     
  13. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    BETTER THAN SHE DESERVED is Leenie Brown's sequel to AT ALL COSTS, the fourth book in her Willow Hall Romance series based on characters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is available in digital format. I found no publication date.

    In AT ALL COSTS, Caroline Bingley with malice aforethought tells a known gossip in the Pemberley area that Jane Bennet had been intimate with Charles Bingley while ill at Netherfield. She implies that pregnancy caused Jane's extended visit to the Gardiners and her subsequent depression following the Bingleys' removal from Hertfordshire. She accuses Elizabeth Bennet of having seduced Fitzwilliam Darcy. Furious when he discovers the slanders, Charles Bingley forbids his homes to Caroline, cuts her allowance, refuses to cover her overspending, and gives her until the end of the Season to find a husband; if unmarried, she must then form her own establishment or live with their aunt. Her time to find a husband constricts when Mr. Hurst gives her only the two weeks of the Burton Hall house party before shipping her off to Manchester. He has no intention of putting up with her through the Season. Fortunately his friend Franklin Rhett--young, handsome, fabulously wealthy but from trade and manufacturing--wants to marry Caroline, and he knows exactly how to secure her acceptance.

    I do not want to do a spoiler, so suffice it to say the tone (though not the means) is reminiscent of The Taming of the Shrew. The engineer is definitely hoist with her own petard. Rhett's strategy works, but the speed of its success makes Caroline's changes improbable. Despite Brown's happily ever-after conclusion, Rhett's machinations seem a doubtful foundation for a blissful union. Still, it is most satisfying that Caroline for once suffers payback, and Rhett's estate purchase to fulfill her dream of social leadership is superbly ironic. (A-)
     
  14. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    NIGHT ON FIRE: THE FIRST COMPLETE ACCOUNT OF JOHN PAUL JONES'S GREATEST BATTLE is John Evangelist Walsh's history of the best-known naval battle of the American Revolution. NIGHT ON FIRE was published in 1978.

    The battle was fought through the evening and night of 23-24 September 1779 off Flamborough Head near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, between the American Bonhomme Richard, captained by John Paul Jones, and HMS Serapis, under command of Captain Richard Pearson.

    Captain Pearson had almost thirty years experience in the Royal Navy, with a steady career of distinguished service, known as a skilled ship handler. HMS Serapis, a frigate only six months in service, was state of the shipbuilders' art: copper-bottomed for speed, maneuverable, and heavily armed. Her guns included two full batteries of 9-pounders and18-pounders, a total of fifty guns capable of throwing a 300-pound broadside, and she carried nearly 300 men including a detachment of Royal Marines. She and the sloop HMS Countess of Scarborough, commanded by Captain Thomas Piercy, convoying a fleet of British merchant ships from Christiansund, Denmark, to London via Whitby, encountered a patrolling American squadron looking to repeat the successful raiding season of the year before.

    The American squadron was a joint French-American operation made up of the 32-gun (mostly 9-pounders) frigate Pallas under French Captain Denis-Nicolas Cottineau; the 36-gun (mostly 12-pounders) frigate Alliance, American-built but also under French command of Captain Pierre Landais; the small corvette Vengeance under Lieutenant Philip Ricot; and the largest of the ships, the American Bonhomme Richard, under Captain John Paul Jones, who commanded the little fleet.

    Though the Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis shared similar dimensions, the ships were very different. Thirteen years old, Bonhomme Richard had been built as a merchant ship for the East Indian trade and later converted to a warship--worn by many voyages, sturdy but neither fast nor nimble-handling. The main battery carried fourteen 12-pounders of uncertain age and condition to each side, with a lower battery of six long 18-pounders, and six 9-pounders on the quarter deck and forecastle, a total of forty guns capable of throwing a 250-pound broadside. Her effective crew was about 120 men, many of whom neither spoke or understood English, barely enough to man both sails and guns, with a squad of about 150 French Marines.

    When he sighted the American squadron, Pearson sent Countess to escort the convoy to Scarborough while he used the Serapis to cover their run for safety. Jones signaled his ships to form line of battle behind Bonhomme Richard and advanced to, attack. Unaccountably, the other three American vessels, led by Alliance, fell out of formation without engaging the British. The fight became a one-on-one slugfest between HMS Serapis and Bonhomme Richard, which Walsh recounts minutely.

    Walsh quotes Samuel Eliot Morison, arguably the premier authority on American Navy history, who called it "a naval combat the like of which has never been fought before or since." (ix) Walsh adds, "While there have been single-combat engagements in which the cannonading at a distance was fiercer and of longer duration, the maneuvering of more classic design, and in which the fighting close-to played a larger part, there has been none in which all these elements came so explosively together. Assuredly, there has been no other in which the victorious captain stood finally in possession of the enemy's quarterdeck, while watching his own devastated ship go down." (ix-x)

    I enjoyed NIGHT ON FIRE because it contains the tidbits that bring history to life. Carrying a bucket of grenades, Scot sailor William Hamilton climbed out on Bonhomme Richard's main yardarm overhanging the deck of Serapis to clear it for American boarders; spotting an open hatch below, he dropped in a grenade to take out a lower gun deck. Shades of Luke Skywalker and the Death Star! Alliance fired three broadsides after the two fighting ships were grappled together too tightly to distinguish between them in the smoke and darkness, doing more damage to Bonhomme Richard than to the enemy Serapis. Was Captain Landais merely cowardly and incompetent, or intent on claiming both ships for the prize money, or guilty of treason? Walsh even hints an Admiralty coverup in the Serapis's defeat.

    NIGHT ON FIRE includes succinct character sketches and portraits of key individuals, a diagram of the progress of battle, and artistic representations of the battle. Appendix A lists British and American casualties identified in official records; B lists notes and sources (133-68); C provides a bibliography of mainly manuscripts and printed primary sources (169-74) It's a fast read, only 118 pages of text, accessible, popular history done right. (A)
     
  15. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    "Jane Austen Upside Down" is Jan Thompson's short story parody of Jane Austen's Persuasion, in which characters switch personalities. It was published in digital format in 2014.

    Mary Elliot Musgrove is a calm, sensible, devoted wife and mother of seven children under ten years old. Charles Musgrove dotes on her. Anne Elliot, a kvetching hypochondriac who's taken to the sofa in deepest depression over William Elliot's marriage to her sister Elizabeth, frightens the children. Frederick Wentworth recovers from the loss of his unidentified first love by marrying Louisa Musgrove and taking her to sea with him. At Lyme Anne jumps or falls onto Captain Benwick's head and ends up betrothed to him.

    Was there such a thing as emergency banns to allow for a quick wedding? Wiki says that legal marriage without three weeks's calling of the banns was possible only with a license or special license.

    I do not see the point of the exercise. (F)
     
  16. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    AWAKENED HEARTS is Susan Pott's sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in digital format in 2017.

    Isolated from her sisters, ignored and criticized by her parents, Mary Bennet's humiliation by her father at the Netherfield ball has produced a withdrawn, prickly, intensely self-critical woman with few social skills. Neither expecting nor desiring to marry, yet determined not to dependent on her married sisters' charity, Mary plans to seek work as a governess or a companion. Before then, she will spend the summer at Pemberley on her first visit with Elizabeth, Fitzwilliam, and Georgiana Darcy in Derbyshire. There, supported by the Darcy women and her developing friendship with Darcy's cousin, former Brigadier Henry Fitzwilliam, now Viscount Morley and heir to the Earl of Dartington, Mary blooms. Long walks and riding, advice on style and fashion, and developing self-confidence fostered by Morley's appreciation of her plainspoken nature, improve her appearance, confidence, and personality. Morley changes her thoughts about marriage.

    The plot in AWAKENED HEARTS is slice of life, the activities, events, and people that influence Mary's evolving sense of self-worth and her ability to deal with Society. Point of view through Mary and Morley's eyes makes for solid characterization. During AWAKENED HEARTS, Mary suffers believably because change is painful. Her progress is slowly won with much self-doubt and guilt when she fall short. It's gratifying to see Mary's newfound strength when she stands up to catty Lady Harriet Westerley who has her own plans for Morley's marriage, refuses Mrs. Bennet's choice of an overwhelming lace design for her wedding dress, and responds to Aunt Phillips's indelicate questions about Morley. Potts does not prettify Wickham, Lydia, or Mary's parents, thereby adding a sense of reality to what could have devolved into a sentimental fairy tale.

    Editing is good. My only complaint is a familiar one. The epilogue covers marriage and offspring of almost every character mentioned. It even includes Anne Watson's orphaned son being reared by Lord and Lady Dartington, but neither Anne nor her son exist in the body of the story. Some epilogue disclosures are startling. AWAKENED HEARTS is one of the best sequels to date. (A)
     
  17. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    LEAVE THE GRAVE GREEN is the third book in Deborah Crombie's police procedural series featuring Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Detective Gemma James of Scotland Yard. Originally published in 1995, it was reissued in digital format in 2010.

    When Connor Swann is found dead in the Hambleton lock on the Thames, his influential in-laws Sir Gerald Asherton and Dame Caroline Stowe, founders and mainstays of the English National Opera Company, ask Sir Gerald's old school chum, Kincaid's boss, for Scotland Yard to investigate Swann's death. They seem more concerned than does their daughter Julia, separated from Swann and intent on divorce even though he means to delay it for another year. Swann's is the second death involving the Thames and the Asherton family. Some twenty years before, son Matthew had drowned in flood waters from which Julia could not rescue him, the tragedy leading to Dame Caroline's retirement from public performance at the height of her career and to Julia's permanent trauma. Autopsy reveal the cause of Swann's death to be suffocation; no water in his lungs suggests he had been dead when he went into the river yet, though his throat is bruised, there is no internal evidence of strangulation. So, is his death accident, suicide, manslaughter, or murder? Kincaid and James excavate some very old and disclose some very current secrets before explaining the death.

    Crombie diverts readers' attention with a series of well-developed red herrings and little foreshadowing of the motive and identity of the person responsible for Swann's death. The story moves fast, but Kincaid's failure to check Swann's t telephone records when he began the investigation causes a delay in solving the case.

    Characterization is strong in LEAVE THE GRAVE GREEN. Using Kincaid and James's point of view illuminates both characters, both strong professionals whose personal relationship continues to grow. "[Gemma] had been silent all the way down from Tommy's flat down to the car. Kincaid glanced at her, feeling utterly baffled. He thought of the usual free give-and-take of their working relationship, and of dinner at her flat just a few nights ago, when they had shared such easy intimacy. At some level he had been aware of her special talent for forming bonds with people, but he had never quite formulated it. She had welcomed him into her warm circle, made him feel comfortable with himself as well as her, and he had taken it for granted. Now, having seen the rapport she'd developed with Tommy Godwin, he felt oddly envious, like a child shut out in the cold." (302) However, Kincaid's hopping from one bed to another within 48 hours is gratuitous and distasteful.

    Crombie excels at vignettes that put the reader in the setting. "He walked toward the river meadows, gazing alternately at the placid river on his left and the blocks of flats on his right. It surprised him that these riverside addresses weren't more elegant. One of the largest buildings was neo-Georgian, another Tudoresque, and both were just a trifle seedy, like dowagers out in soiled housecoats. The shrubbery grew rankly in the gardens, brightened only by the dark red dried heads of sedum and the occasional pale blue of Michaelmas daisies. But it was November after all, Kincaid thought charitably, looking at the quiet river." (80)

    LEAVE THE GRAVE GREEN bodes well for continued development of the series. (B)
     
  18. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    80
    REST AND RESTLESSNESS: MARY CRAWFORD, THE SECOND HEROINE OF MANSFIELD PARK is the first installment in C. M. Mitchell's variation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, retelling the story from Mary Crawfords's point of view. It was published in digital format in 2015.

    REST AND RESTLESSNESS opens with Mary Crawford's visiting her good friend Henrietta Wainwright. When Mary had been forced to leave her uncle Admiral Crawford's home by his installation of his mistress in the place of his recently deceased wife, her brother Henry Crawford proved unwilling to stay in residence at Everingham, his estate in Norfolk, to provide her with a home. Mary therefore has no choice but to accept the invitation of their much older half-sister Mrs. Jane Grant for an extended visit to Northamptonshire, where Dr. Grant holds the living controlled by Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park. Besides her desire to know her younger siblings, Mrs. Grant is also intent on matchmaking, thinking Mary and her £20,000 an excellent choice for older son Tom Bertram and Henry suitable for younger sister Julia Bertram. The Crawfords pursue their acquaintance with the residents of Mansfield Park, the installment ending with Mary's realization that she is in love with the younger brother Edmund Bertram.

    Characters and events are faithful to Austen's originals. The only major change in REST AND RESTLESSNESS is the introduction of John Heathcliff, with whom Mary shares an unusually honest, "friendly enemy" relationship where he serves as the voice of common sense and caution.

    What makes REST AND RESTLESSNESS outstanding is Mitchell's creation of Mary Crawford as first person narrator. Mary's voice is impeccable. She's intelligent, witty, opinionated to the point of obstinacy, self-aware, and self-centered. She considers herself qualified to advise those less clear-minded: "My words perhaps had been too harsh, but I could not regret them for they were what I felt and what they ought to have been. To speak plainly and clearly were the best options, for if I was not severe in my address and blunt about the realities of the profession [Edmund Bertram] was choosing, then I would be doing him such a disservice." Her integrity is flexible: "...we had the wonderful habit of knowing when to tell the truth, and when to lie. The truth was always needed when communication was necessary, and lies were needed to placate persons for when the truth offered too much worthless pain... Therefore, veracity...was always in direct proportion to the necessity of the moment." For Mary, "...outside of such blatant atrocities [as the slave trade], the way of the world, the mind of the world, the mood and manners of the world must be adhered to and have much share of correctness. Surely my logic could not be erroneous..." Mitchell's Mary reveals the motivation and attitudes behind the behavior of Austen's Mary.

    My only complaint about REST AND RESTLESSNESS is that the next installments are not available through Amazon, and I definitely want them. (solid A)
     

Share This Page