Lady Maybe, by Julie Klassen – A Review

Lady Maybe, by Julie Klassen (2015)From the desk of Katie Patchell:

  • Betrayals and Lies. Harmful Secrets. Surprising Redemption.

For the past several years, Austenprose has had the joy of reviewing books inspired by beloved author, Jane Austen, as well as those set in the Regency period. One author in particular has appeared more than once, and has written numerous Regency books inspired by the timeless novels of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters: Julie Klassen. In her latest novel Lady Maybe, Klassen blends notes of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, to create a mystery-filled Gothic romance about the power of truth, and the lengths people will go to conceal it.

Lady Marianna Mayfield: Pressured into a marriage to Sir John Mayfield by her money-obsessed father, Lady Marianna ignores her older husband to instead focus on her many flirts, especially her lover, Anthony Fontaine. When her husband suddenly decides to take her with him to a house far away from Bath, she obeys—her silent companion and husband beside her, and the surety that her lover will do anything to find her.

Sir John Mayfield: Plagued by the knowledge that he’s married to a woman he loves but who ignores him and cheats on him openly, Sir John eases his pain by fencing and confiding in his wife’s companion. After months of unhappy marriage, Sir John comes up with a plan—if he can quickly remove his wife from Bath and the arms of her lover, they can overlook the secrets that are eroding their marriage, and for the first time, be truly happy together.

Hannah Rogers: Ex-companion to Lady Marianna Mayfield who vanished from the Mayfield residence months ago. On her sudden return asking for the last of her pay, Lady Marianna convinces her to be her only friend on the journey to Devonshire. While strangely reluctant to leave and uncomfortable in the Mayfield’s company, Hannah accepts, vowing to return for someone hidden behind. 

James Lowden: When Sir John’s new solicitor arrives at the doorstep of Clifton House, the Mayfield’s new residence, he enters with his own ideas of the characters of those who live inside. His goal: To uncover the truth amidst the lies. But that task is much harder than he ever imagined….

After a horrible accident, one heroine wakes up with no memory of who she is, and the view of her friend floating away in the ocean. After realizing who she is while recovering at Clifton House, she enters into a world of confusion and lies, because what—who—is at stake is worth more than the truth. Or so she thinks. When James Lowden arrives at the doorstep asking invasive questions about her past actions, can she manage to escape the woman she’s become to save the most important person in her life? And when Sir John Mayfield wakes up from his coma, will he help her, or finally release her to the consequences of all of her mistakes?

Like Julie Klassen’s previous Regency novels, Lady Maybe is filled with exciting mysteries and surprising revelations, even until the final pages. It’s always a fun experience as a reader to be completely shocked and continually surprised by what the characters have done in the past or are doing within the book’s pages, and yet again, Klassen skillfully weaves together all the mysteries for an interesting and complex story.

One aspect of the complexity of Lady Maybe that I did not enjoy, however, was the tangled web woven by the heroines and heroes. One heroine spent most of the novel claiming innocence while really making the worst choices of them all, another was constantly accused of wrongdoing (yet, for me at least, sympathetically and realistically human), a hero who was like beginning-of-Pride-and-Prejudice Mr. Darcy on steroids, and another like brooding Mr. Rochester. Really, it felt like most of the novel was a story of two villains and two villainesses, rather than two heroes and two heroines. The sometimes clichéd characters (and overly dramatic dialogue) as well as their selfish motives and lack of self-awareness were alternatively disappointing and frustrating to me.

All that being said, something Lady Maybe shows masterfully is what life is like when trapped by the problems and consequences of harmful decisions and actions. This novel also shows that human emotions are not always clear-cut (a topic also covered in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park), and that ultimately, everyone has the chance of redemption. While I believe Klassen’s previous novels are stronger in characterization, plot, and message, Lady Maybe has its own redeeming qualities that many readers will find worth the read.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Lady Maybe, by Julie Klassen
Berkley Trade (2015)
Trade paperback, eBook & Audio (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0425282076

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

Additional Reviews

Image of the cover courtesy of Berkely Trade © 2015; text Katie Patchell © 2015, Austenprose.com

Giveaway Winners Announced for the Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley Blog Tour Launch Party

Miss Georgiana of Pemberley, by Shannon Winslow (2015)It’s time to announce the winners of the giveaways for the Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley blog tour launch party. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

One digital copy (eBook format of your choice) of Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.

  • clm1743, who left a comment on July 21, 2015

One signed paperback copy each of The Darcys of Pemberley and its companion novel, Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.

  • Anna who left a comment on July 28, 2015

One 11” x 14″ matted print featuring an oval inset from the cover artwork of The Darcys of Pemberley that was used in the creation of the cover art for Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley and one signed paperback copy of the book.

  • Sheila L. M., who left a comment on July 26, 2015

Continue reading

Q&A with Patrice Kindl, Author of A School For Brides, & Giveaway

A School for Brides, by Patrice Kindl 2015It is a rare delight in reading to discover a new author that you feel could become one of your most cherished favorites. When “every feature works,” I am revved up and ready to share my excitement.

Such is the case with Patrice Kindl, who until a review copy of A School for Brides landed on my doorstep last month was entirely unknown to me. Further research revealed that this new release was a companion novel to her first in the Lesser Hoo series, Keeping the Castle. Set in the Regency period both novels share many of the same characters, paralleling the same time frame, but from a different perspective. Better and better.

Before diving into A School for Brides I decided to power through an audio recording of Keeping the Castle. It knocked my bonnet off. If I could describe Kindl’s writing in one sentence, I would say that it is a skillful blending of Jane Austen’s genius with social satire, Georgette Heyer’s exuberant humor and Dodie Smith’s poignant romance.

Here is a description of A School for Brides from the publisher:

The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire, has one goal: to train its students in the feminine arts with an eye toward getting them married off. This year, there are five girls of marriageable age. There’s only one problem: the school is in the middle of nowhere, and there are no men. Set in the same English town as Keeping the Castle, and featuring a few of the same characters, here’s the kind of witty tribute to the classic Regency novel that could only come from the pen of Patrice Kindl!

Curious to learn more about Patrice Kindl and the inspiration for her Lesser Hoo novels I asked her if she would be game for a brief interview. Happily she agreed.

Welcome Patrice: Continue reading

Poldark Season One Episode Six on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

Image of Demelza Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson) at the Warleggan ball in Poldark (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Image of Demelza Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson) at the Warleggan ball in Poldark (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Last week in episode 5 of Poldark everyone was reckless and bold—gambling on their future and love. Miner Mark Daniel married a questionable woman, Ross began a copper smelting company, Demelza played defiant matchmaker and Francis had a meltdown after losing his mine in a card game.

This week: The Pride and Prejudice Poldark edition. In which talk of frocks, balls and beaus resounds with sparkling repartees and retorts, echoing Jane Austen’s prose.

(there be spoilers ahead)

RECAP

Francis (Kyle Soller) scythes. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

Francis (Kyle Soller) scythes. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS

You’ll never get it Ross.”—Francis Poldark

What?”—Ross Poldark

Justice for all.”—Francis Poldark

Fair wages would be a start.”—Ross Poldark

With the image of the shirtless and buff Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) scything his field in episode three still fresh in our minds, the scene of his cousin Francis (Kyle Soller) attempting the same sends an entirely different message. Moral fortitude vs. weakness has won the day. Taking the initiative and rebuilding your life has paid off for Ross. Will his cousin rise to the challenge? The omen that Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) foretold of the dark and fair Poldark, “The stronger rises as the weaker falls,” has flipped in the five years since Ross’s return. The only ammunition that Francis has left to wound his cousin is sarcasm and doubt. Continue reading

Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, by Winston Graham – A Review

Demelza A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790 by Winston Graham 2015 x 200From the desk of Pamela Mingle:

If you’re like me, you are spending your Sundays killing time until Poldark lights up the TV screen. When I learned that Season One would be based on Winston Graham’s first two books in the series, Ross Poldark and Demelza, I was determined to read them before viewing the adaptation. Although the episodes I’ve seen so far can stand on their own merit, reading the books has given me a richer understanding of the two protagonists. If Ross’s character functions as the moral compass of the story, Demelza’s represents the emotional heart of the books. Her struggle to be accepted as Ross’s wife makes us empathize with her, root for her, right from the start.

Demelza opens with the birth of Ross and Demelza’s baby girl. The new mother plans two christening parties, one for the country folk and another for the gentry. Trouble arises when her father, now a Methodist and wearing his religion like a cloak of righteousness, shows up on the wrong day and promptly insults some of the guests. Put in the uncomfortable position of defending his father-in-law, Ross must intervene. Demelza flees to the house, mortified. “…I thought I would show ’em I was a fit wife for you, that I could wear fine clothes and behave genteel an’ not disgrace you. An’ instead they will all ride home snickering behind their hands…” (51) Continue reading

Q&A with Poldark Historical Advisor Hannah Greig

Captain Ross Poldark in His Majesty's 62nd Regiment of Foot regimentals (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Captain Ross Poldark in His Majesty’s 62nd Regiment of Foot regimentals (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS

Getting the historical details correct is so critical in period drama today. Gone are the days when Greer Garson could wear a hoop skirt in the 1940 Pride and Prejudice and get away with it. The production team of the new BBC/PBS Poldark, at Mammoth Screen Ltd., have stepped up to the mark depicting late eighteenth-century Cornwall, warts and all. Advising them in this monumental task is lecturer, author and historian Hannah Greig who joins us today to answer a few questions about her role in the production of Poldark and the historical context that it is set in.

An illustration "A Beauty in Search of Knowledge" derived from a print by John Raphael Smith, 1782 (c) British Library

An illustration “A Beauty in Search of Knowledge” derived from a print by John Raphael Smith, 1782 (c) British Library

LAN: Welcome Hannah. One has visions of historians entrenched in musty library stacks secretly pining for their favorite reference librarian! Besides teaching and writing, you have carved out an interesting niche as Historical Advisor for films, television and theatre. This seems like a very glamorous job. Can you share with us what your duties are, what a typical day would be like, and what kind of questions are asked by the production team? Continue reading