Winner Announced in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge Giveaway!

The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 sidebar graphicWell Janeites, it’s been fun. A whole year of Sense and Sensibility  in celebration of the bicentenary of its publication in 1811.

I read 8 books, watched 2 movies and listened to one audio book. Here is a list of my reviews. A big thank you to my reviewer Kimberly who pinch hit the review of Expectation of Happiness for me when I was deep into my book Jane Austen Made Me Do It’s promotional Grand Tour in October.

My reading & viewing for the challenge:

  1. Jan 26 – The Three Weissmanns of Westport
  2. Feb 23 –  Sense and Sensibility 1981
  3. Mar 23 – The Dashwood Sisters Tell All
  4. Apr 27 –   Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries
  5. May 25 – The Annotated Sense and Sensibility
  6. Jun 22 – Sense and Sensibility 1995
  7. Jul 27 – Sass and Serendipity
  8. Aug 24 – Suspense and Sensibility
  9. Sept 28 – Sense and Sensibility (Naxos Audiobooks)
  10. Oct 26 – Expectations of Happiness
  11. Nov 23 – Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library)
  12. Dec 28 – Willoughby’s Return

83 of you signed up for the reading challenge. You can find their reviews in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge archive.

Anyone who left a comment or a review here on Austenprose or on any of the posts on the participants reviews posted on their blogs qualified for the Grand Giveaway: one copy of each of the twelve books/movies/audios that I reviewed and a Pemberley Shoppe tote.

The winner drawn at random is: JOY ANDREA who left a comment on August 25, 2011 on my review of Suspense and Sensibility.

Congratulations JOY ANDREA. To claim your boat load of prizes, please contact me with your full name and address by 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks again to all who participated.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winner Announced for Willoughby’s Return

Willoughby's Return, by Jane Odiwe (2009)31 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe.

The winner drawn at random is TARA FLY who left a comment on December 28, 2011.

Congratulations TARA! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by January 19, 2012. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Many thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge 2011. I had a wonderful year reading books and viewing movies inspired by Jane Austen’s first published novel.

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Irresistable Temptation, by Jane Odiwe – A Review

Willoughbys Return, by Jane Odiwe (2009)This is my final contribution to The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge 2011. Feeling nostalgic during the holidays, I resorted to an old chestnut in selection of my final read. I enjoyed Willoughby’s Return immeasurably when I first read it two years ago. After re-reading it again, I began to write my new review and quickly realized that I was just repeating what I had previously written – with the exception that my respect for Odiwe’s writing had increased in comparison to other Austenesque fiction that I had read since – so I increased my star rating from 4 to 5.

While the Jane Austen sequel industry abounds with numerous books inspired by Pride and Prejudice, regretfully there are very few sequels to Austen’s first published novel Sense and Sensibility. Why? Possibly because some readers have been disappointed with half of Austen’s unsatisfactory ending for her two heroines. While the two Dashwood sisters do marry: staid and stoic Elinor to Edward Ferrars and impulsive and free-spirited Marianne to Col. Brandon, the second pairings future happiness seemed doubtful. How could a young lady with Marianne’s intense passionate depth be happy with anyone other than her Byronic first love Mr. Willoughby – even after he threw her over for an heiress? Nagging questions arise. Did she settle when she married the Colonel? Would she be tempted into extramarital affairs and runaway with her lover? Possibly, leaving an intriguing premise for continuing the story.

All these concerns are addressed in Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation a new sequel to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Odiwe. How, or if they will be resolved to our satisfaction is now a possibility.

Three years after her marriage to Colonel Brandon, Marianne is the mistress of Delaford Park and the mother of a young son James. She has everything that a young married woman could desire: wealth, position, an heir and a loving husband, but her insecurities, jealousy and impetuous nature rob her of complete happiness. Resentful that her husband is frequently called away to attend his ward Eliza Williams and her infant daughter, Marianne “feels” that he cares for his other family more than his own. Their ties to the Brandon’s are strong and painful; Eliza being the daughter of Brandon’s first love who died tragically, and Eliza’s young child Lizzie the illegitimate daughter of John Willoughby the rogue who also threw over Marianne’s affections for an heiress five years prior. In addition, there is that imposing portrait of Eliza’s mother hanging in the Hall staring down at her. Every time Marianne passes it she sees the similarities of their appearances and doubts more and more if Brandon married her because he loved her, of if she is replacing the woman that he loved and lost years ago. When the charming rogue John Willoughby reappears in her life proclaiming he has never stopped loving her, the pain of their failed romance is renewed gradually replaced by conflicting emotions and the temptation to be with him again.

We are reintroduced to many of the characters from the original novel: Elinor Ferrars and her husband Edward, Mrs. Jennings, the Middleton’s, Lucy Ferrars and importantly Elinor and Marianne’s younger sister Margaret Dashwood who has her own romance in the course of the novel that may equal Marianne’s dilemma in emotion and drama. It could not be a Jane Austen sequel without talk of beaus, gowns and a glamorous Ball, so imagine everything most “profligate and shocking” in the way of young couples dancing and sitting down together! Margaret Dashwood supplies the shocking (to the horror of the neighborhood biddies) in her behavior by dancing more than three times in one night with one partner, Henry Lawrence, the charming and bold nephew of Col Brandon. Like Willoughby, Henry appears to be a good catch: attractive, well connected, an heir to a fortune and too irresistible. He wastes no time in pursuing Margaret’s affections. There is a surprise twist to their relationship that I will not reveal, but readers might recognize similarities to another Austen heroine.

Odiwe has captured Marianne’s spirit superbly. Romantic, impulsive and let’s face it, high maintenance! At times I really wanted to give her a firm dressing down and felt the same of Austen’s younger Marianne, so I knew that Odiwe had connected their characteristics seamlessly. Marianne may be five years older, but she’s still Marianne the drama queen and that makes for great entertainment! Interestingly, the two men in her life, Brandon and Willoughby, had fewer scenes than expected but caused many reactions to fuel the narrative serving their purpose. This was a nice mirror to women’s fate in Regency times. Men have all the power, women all the presence.

This is Odiwe’s second Austen sequel, and like Lydia Bennet’s Story she has chosen a character in Marianne Brandon that is ruled by impulse and emotion making for surprise and tension – all good elements to an engaging story that she delivers with confidence and aplomb. Developing younger sister Margaret Dashwood brought youth, vivacity and a bit of rebellion against social dictums to the story. Her romance with Henry Lawrence was an excellent choice as she shared the narrative equally with Marianne and balanced the story. Odiwe’s research and passion for the Regency era shine, especially in her descriptions of the country fair and fashions. It is rewarding to see her develop her own style evocative of Austen but totally modern in its sensibility. There were a few missteps with cadence and vernacular, but I am splitting hairs, and few will notice. Of course we are never in much doubt that it will all end happily, but unlike Jane Austen’s tale, the final transformation of the heroine’s troubling want of caution and choice of spouse will not prompt debate two hundred years later.

A light and enjoyable read, Willoughby’s Return is a charming tale that sweeps you back into Austen’s mannered world of a young girl searching for love and a married woman realizing it.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my twelfth selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can read the archive of all of my reviews and those of the other participants reviews posted in the challenge review pages here. It has been great fun to visit Jane Austen’s first published novel and many of the film adpatations and books that it has inspired this year. 

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Willoughby’s Return, by Jane Odiwe by leaving a comment by midnight PT, Wednesday, January 4, 2012 stating if you are Team Willoughby or Team Brandon and why? Winner to be announced on Thursday, January 5, 2012. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

The deadline to enter the Grand Prize drawing of The Sense and Sensibility Reading Challenge 2011, which includes a copy of each of the twelve items that I reviewed for the challenge in a Jane Austen tote bag from The Republic of Pemberley Shoppe will be midnight PT, January 4, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, January 5th, 2012. All of the participants in the challenge and the commenters in their review posts in the event are eligible.  Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!

Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation, by Jane Odiwe
Sourcebooks Landmark, Naperville, IL (2009)
Trade paperback (345) pages
ISBN: 978-1402222672

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard – A Review

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard (2011)As 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, we are offered another annotated edition to help us understand the social and historical context of the world that Jane Austen places us into in late eighteenth century England.

The Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library) is the first Jane Austen novel, in what I hope will be the bookend of Jane Austen’s six major works, to be offered in eBook format from Girlebooks. Yes, the format is digital gentle readers – and I think it quite appropriate that Margaret Sullivan is leading the way for us as its annotator. Many know Margaret as the editrix of AustenBlog.com, but she is also a strong advocate of digital books, and has for many years been waving their flag in attempt to prepare us for the inevitable. That time has come. This is the first book I am reviewing for Austenprose that is being produced solely for the digital market.

Sense and Sensibility is the tale of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, each cut from the same cloth, yet facing financial, social and romantic trials together from totally different perspectives, and – with varying degrees of hardship and success. Level headed and practical Elinor is the older of the two and often the only one in the family to keep her widowed mother and impetuous younger sister on a straight path. Marianne is wildly romantic and hell-bent to stretch the limits of proper decorum into the next county. Three men will change their life paths: Edward Ferrars, a reserved and stoic eldest son whose family aspires to greatest, yet he craves the simple life a country parson; Colonel Brandon, retired from the army and from love because of the loss of his first love many years hence; and Mr. Willoughby, handsome, charming and impassioned, but at a price. As the young ladies search for love, honor and financial security, Austen weaves in a rich social tapestry of minor characters, social commentary and the dry humor that she is renowned for.

While Sense and Sensibility offers some recognizable themes of the era of financially challenged young women searching for love and security in a society whose constraints sharply narrow their possibility of success, Austen has infused deep social context as well. Of all of Austen’s six major novels, S&S is driven by legal inheritance laws of primogeniture in England and how women were affected by them. These can be very puzzling to the contemporary reader and Sullivan’s notes throughout the text can help smooth a few furrowed brows. For example, in Volume One, Chapter two “Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress of Norland; and her mother and sister-in-law were degraded to the condition of visitors.” This one sentence is the lynchpin of the novel. If you understand why the widow Dashwood and her three daughters are be to displaced, downsized in social standing, the rest of the narrative will all fit into place. If you don’t you’re in trouble and will miss much of the inside story that Austen wants you to experience. If you tap on the numbered endnotes within the text, it will take you to the explanation. Tapping on the number again will take you back to the text. It is that simple.

With only 97 endnotes, this edition is not as extensively annotated as this year’s The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, Edited and Annotated by David M. Shapard, Anchor Books (2011), however, it does contain: A biography of the authoress; A bibliography and further reading; Information and Jane Austen’s life and culture; Author’s having fun with Jane Austen’; Fiction inspired by Sense and Sensibility; Films adapted from and inspired by Sense and Sensibility; and a buoyant forward and an unerring eye by the annotator. The illustrations by Cassandra Chouinard add levity, but are not expandable, so it was difficult to appreciate any detail. One must also take a leap of faith and assume that this is an unabridged text, but what version used, is not stated.

The eBook is available in Adobe Reader PDF, Kindle/Mobipocket PRC, ePub & Microsoft Reader LIT for the modest price of $2.99. Yes, there are a lot of “free” editions of S&S out there to be had for digital readers. Don’t be fooled by “free” gentle readers. Not all eBooks are created equal. The expert formatting and craftsmanship exhibited by this Girlebook edition is well worth the value.  For a middlin’ annotated edition, this Bicentenary Library presentation is “everything that is worthy and amiable.”

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eleventh selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard
Girlebooks (2011)
Available at Girlebooks, Kindle US, Kindle UK, Nookbook Store & Smashwords

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins – A Review

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

I’m delighted to again read another fantastic work by Rebecca Ann Collins.  She is the critically acclaimed author of the bestselling 10 novel series, The Pemberley Chronicles.  Her writing style is unparalleled in its depth and completion, and I’m always amazed at how detailed and engaging her novels are.  After an incredibly rich 50 years worth of stories starring Lizzy and Darcy, we now turn our attention to Edward, Elinor, Marianne, and Col. Brandon as Collins begins to entice us with her versions of what happened after Jane laid down her pen in writing Sense and Sensibility.

Picking up seven years after the end of Sense and Sensibility, we are transported back into the world of the Dashwood sisters (now Mrs. Ferrars and Mrs. Brandon).  Opening on a rather morbid note, we are taken to Barton Park for the funeral of Lady Middleton (Sir John’s wife) who unfortunately died of an apparent seizure during a dinner party for her mother’s (Mrs. Jennings) birthday.  It’s during this unfortunate event we’re given updates as to where our favorite characters are: Margret, the youngest Dashwood sister, is now studying at a seminary near Oxford thanks to brother-in-law Edward’s assistance.  Edward and Elinor live in the parsonage at Delaford, the estate of Col. Brandon and Marianne.  Edward and Elinor are blessed with two children while the Brandons have none.  After the funeral, Col. Brandon leaves to travel to see his property in Ireland, and it is in his absence that everyone’s worriment for Marianne begins.  She has been the mistress of Delaford for seven years now, and is bored; bored with her day to day life, the lack of inspiration from her surroundings, and above all the lack of like minded people in her circle of friends.  She takes a day trip with some acquaintances and surprisingly comes in contact with Willoughby.  Will seeing him rekindle old feelings, or will she find strength in the love that Col. Brandon has for her?  How will Elinor react when she finds that Willoughby has returned?  What will become of Margret once she’s completed her education at the seminary?

One of Collins’ greatest attributes is her ability to channel the prose of Austen herself.  Her style, while remaining Austen-like, is still unique, and all her own.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Collins is a  true gem in the world of Jane Austen fan fiction.  I’m always excited to read her novels as I know they’ll leave me feeling content and entertained to the highest degree.  They have afforded many Jane Austen purists an escape back to the Victorian era and all its wonders.  This time is exciting in particular because it’s the first time we get Collins’ perspective of the world of Sense and Sensibility.  Her unique vision for the sister seemingly tranquil lives are never dull.

My one complaint was with Elinor’s character.  She seemed filled with more anxiety then I ever remember.  Yes, in the original she is worried about the family’s finances and about Marianne’s relationship with Willoughby, but she was not as bad as she is in Expectations of Happiness.  She seems always on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and poor Edward tries to comfort and console her as she cries her eyes out over almost everything.  It seems that most of the other characters walk on eggshells around her in what they can and can’t tell her for fear of her nerves.  This bothered me, because I read Elinor as a strong woman in Sense and Sensibility.  She gets her family together, helps them stay economical, and is there for Marianne caring for her both on an emotional and physical level when she falls ill.  Heck, she even kicks Willoughby out when he comes back in the end, trying to come back just one more time to see Marianne.  This “new” Elinor seriously displeased me and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Despite this, I have to give Collins credit for her imagination in creating the characterization of Margret, the youngest Dashwood sister.  As she is young and unknown to us in Austen’s original work, it was exciting to see her character take shape and become a strong, intelligent woman with thoughts on her future and what she wanted for it.  I was quite pleased by this plot addition, and the depth that Margret added to the storyline was a great inclusion in an already great story.

So, it is with a happy heart that I conclude my review of Expectations of Happiness (no pun intended!)  Collins has once again showed us that she is a master of Austen’s language and time, and can add postscripts to Austen’s works that dovetail seamlessly to the originals.  Happiness was unique and exciting, and it fulfilled my curiosity as to the fate of Elinor and Marianne after their happy endings as told by Austen.  Give it a try; I’m positive that you won’t be disappointed!

4 out of 5 Stars

Kimberly has kindly filled in for me this month and completed the tenth selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (336) Pages
ISBN: 978-1402253898

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose