Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, by Shannon Winslow — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In a November 1814 letter to her niece, Jane Austen wrote that “nothing can be compared to the misery of being bound without love.” She had brilliantly illustrated her point with many unenviable couples in her novels serving as warnings of what her protagonists should strive to avoid. Likewise, readers found in her most famous story, Pride and Prejudice, a hero dutifully resigned to such misery and a heroine determined to evade it. Prolific Austenesque author Shannon Winslow explores that hero’s path from misery to love in her latest Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words.

Fitzwilliam Darcy believes that he is destined to fulfill his familial duty by securing a society-approved mate for himself and proper mistress of Pemberley—and by choosing prudently, hoping for mutual respect at best, and knowing that love was neither desirable nor wise. “My early years had taught me, again and again, that to love was to suffer pain. To love was to surrender a part of oneself, to give the object of that love power over one’s life – power to wound or to destroy, either by accident or with intent.” (189) Therefore, Darcy resolutely heeds his late father’s advice by discreetly selecting a decorous lady from a suitably wealthy and consequential family, ever mindful of his family’s expectations and his own responsibilities. “To choose the wrong path, to be careless of the way, to neglect minding every step, was to invite calamity of a kind most painful and permanent.” (171)

After George Wickham nearly absconds with Darcy’s young sister at Ramsgate, Darcy finds himself shaken to his core by the barely avoided catastrophe and questions his own wisdom. Wishing to counteract his tendency to brood, he seeks diversion with his cheerful friend Charles Bingley at Netherfield Park. “In part, I had come to Netherfield hoping for a cure.” (1546)

Unbeknownst to Darcy, however, his dutiful resolve is about to become untenable once he encounters the saucy smile, fine eyes, and pert opinions of the incomparable Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Their charged interactions have the potential to further unravel his determination as he tentatively steps off his sensible path and veers toward a life he’d never imagined might be his. Far too soon, though, reality invades Darcy’s hopeful dreams to remind him of his prior obligations. As he settles “one final contest of will versus inclination, of duty versus desire” can he summon the courage to choose the path that follows his heart? (3968)

It is rare to read a first-person narration from Darcy’s viewpoint, and it felt like we were having a fireside chat as he explained his perspective of all of the events that transpired not only in Pride and Prejudice but also during those previously silent times when he was away from Elizabeth. Hence, the story was at times quite unputdownable. My only frustration was that I was hoping for a bit more romantic yearning from him, but he was far too true to his stoic character to melt from Elizabeth’s presence overmuch. He also felt honor bound by his other commitments, however tenuous they may have been. Still, I was quite content with his cerebral musings about how he’d fallen in love without suspecting or allowing it and was grateful for his loss of control. As he said, “My happier outcome depended on the slimmest thread of unlikely circumstances being precariously strung together without error. At any one of a dozen junctures, the course of my life could have carried me in a completely different direction.” (109)

Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words provides an enjoyable opportunity for Pride and Prejudice enthusiasts to have a cozy tête-à-tête with their favorite fictional gentleman.

5 out of 5 Stars

  • Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, by Shannon Winslow
  • Heather Ridge Arts (April 30, 2021)
  • Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (283) pages
  • ISBN: 978-0989025973

AMAZON | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

Book cover courtesy of Heather Ridge Arts © 2021; text Katie Jackson © 2021, Austenprose.com

Interview & Giveaway with the Author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner

Cover of the paperback edition of The Jane Austen Society (2021)Happy Friday, dear readers! In anticipation of the paperback release of one of my favorite novels of 2020, I have re-read The Jane Austen Society, by Natalie Jenner. Like Austen’s novels, I have picked up on new insights into the characters and themes and see the story in a new light. I highly recommend a re-read and envy those who will be discovering the story for the first time.

The paperback edition released this week on July 6th and it is packed with exciting extras:

  • A map illustrating the town of Chawton and the homes of the characters
  • A Reader’s Guide which includes:
  • A Conversation with Natalie Jenner,
  • An Exclusive Author Essay: Prescribing Jane Austen for Difficult Times
  • Recommended Reading
  • Reading Group Questions

For those unfamiliar with the novel here is a description from the publisher and a link to our review.

“Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.” ―Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people―a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others―could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

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A Cover Reveal & Excerpt of Jane and the Year Without a Summer: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 14), by Stephanie Barron

Happy Monday, dear readers! I have great news to share today. Bestselling historical mystery author Stephanie Barron has a new “Being a Jane Austen Mystery” in the queue.

Jane and the Year Without a Summer arrives on February 8, 2022, marking the fourteenth novel in the popular series. Set in Regency England, the series is based on actual events and people in Austen’s life and times. Inspired by the author’s life-long admiration of Austen and her writing, Barron’s skill at channeling her voice and the historical detail is nonpareil. Here is a description of the book, the big cover reveal, and an exclusive excerpt from the novel.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.

Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own—some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life.

COVER REVEAL Continue reading

Dangerous Magic: A Pride & Prejudice Variation (Mr. Darcy’s Magic Book 1), by Monica Fairview — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

The world of Austenesque stories has expanded exponentially in recent years, and now enthusiasts of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) can treat themselves to fantasy versions of their beloved novels. There’s even a delightful new Facebook group dedicated to the subgenre: Fantasy Reads for Austen Fans. Bestselling author Monica Fairview is the latest creator in this whimsical realm with her imaginative Pride and Prejudice variation, Dangerous Magic.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has the weight of the Kingdom on his shoulders. As an elite and formidable Royal Mage, he is destined to help save England by winning the war against Napoleon and his ever-increasing army of French mages. “Darcy wondered if there had ever been a moment in his life when he could have forged his own path. He had always been guided by duty, honor, and good principles, and he had never thought to question their hold on his life.” (17) Trained from childhood as a true-blooded mage at the exclusive Royal Academy, Darcy is well-versed in the textbook spells—but they’re not strong enough, and England is on the verge of being overtaken. Darcy needs to Bond with a Janus Twin—an equally powerful mage, thus doubling their magical strength—if the Kingdom has any chance of surviving Napoleon’s attack. But such mages are exceedingly rare, and time is running out.

Elizabeth Bennet has been raised in the countryside, instinctively developing her magical skills without any formal training and only vaguely aware of the war being fought on English soil. Her life changes dramatically on the day the Royal Mages arrive to enlist her services for King and Country. “Conscripted. A heavy sense of dread had lodged inside Elizabeth, along with a prickling of fear. What if she had to be in a battle? What if they sent her to fight in France?” (95) Although she is not a true-blooded mage, she is extraordinarily talented, and she has become their last, best hope for saving England from the French. Continue reading

A Life Worth Choosing: A Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Anngela Schroeder – A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

In a heart-tugging mash-up of It’s A Wonderful Life and Pride and Prejudice, author Anngela Schroeder gives Austen’s most beloved hero the opportunity to witness a world in which he had never been born. A Pride & Prejudice world without Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy? Gasp! Exploring such a possibility had me clearing some time and settling into my cozy reading chair.

After delivering his marriage proposal and having Miss Elizabeth Bennet not simply reject it, but vociferously state that Mr. Wickham would have made a better Master of Pemberley than he, Fitzwilliam Darcy pens a response letter and his own private wish that he wasn’t around to feel the pain and dejection from her stunning refusal of his love and all that his wealth can give her. In addition, long ago, a gypsy predicted he would have a monumental decision to make in his life.

Not long after the delivery of said letter, an accident befalls him and he awakes in a world that makes little sense. The same people surround him, but their circumstances and his own are vastly different. What has happened? Is he even awake? His physician, Clarence, explains. Darcy wished he hadn’t been born so… he hadn’t been born. He was now Mr. Fitzroy, gentleman and owner of a small estate and nobody to all the familiar people around him. Familiar people, who seem to be suffering painful and bizarre fates. Why? He wonders and the enigmatic Clarence reminds him that this is the result of him never being there during pivotal times in these people’s lives.

While in the person of Fitzroy, Darcy has a new chance with Miss Elizabeth and a new life before him if he wishes to take it. If he chooses his former life, he can restore what is lost and lose love a second time. Continue reading

A Preview & Giveaway of From Highbury with Love, by Corrie Garrett

From Highbury with Love by Corrie Garrett 2021Happy Friday dear readers. The seasons are changing here. I hope to get into the garden this weekend. How about you?

Today we are delighted to preview a forthcoming novel by Corrie Garrett, From Highbury with Love. Technically it is crossover fiction, combining the characters from two of Jane Austen’s novels: Emma and Pride and Prejudice.

Talking about crossovers, this is an emerging subgenre in Austenesque fiction that is trending. While Sybil G. Brinton’s 1913 Old Friends and New Fancies was the first to incorporate this technique of blending multiple storyline characters into a new narrative, more recently Joana Starnes’ The Subsequent Proposal: The Tale of Pride and Prejudice & Persuasion (2013), and Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion, by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright (2021) have expanded the practice to much acclaim. I suspect that we shall see many more authors embracing this device in the future.

Since there are far fewer Emma sequels than Pride and Prejudice, (by the thousands, if you want a wild guess) the choice of combining the residents of Highbury with Pemberley is refreshing. Author Corrie Garrett has kindly offered us an exclusive excerpt from her new novel to give a peek inside the story and a generous giveaway chance for three digital copies of the book that releases next month. Enjoy!

Best, LA

BOOK DESCRIPTION

A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma, bringing some of your favorite couples together in unexpected ways!

When Lizzy Bennet spends a winter visit in Highbury with her father’s cousins, Miss Jane Fairfax and Mrs. Bates, she becomes friends with the young lady of Hartfield, Emma Woodhouse. At least, everyone assumes they will be friends, but soon Lizzy is as invested in Harriet Smith’s sweet romance as Emma is opposed to it, and neither of these spirited heroines will back down easily!

And when Darcy visits his friend George Knightley, it’s a complete carousel of mistaken affections and awkward confrontations.

Some in the neighborhood are convinced Mr. Darcy remains in town for Emma. Some think Lizzy would be an excellent young bride for Mr. Knightley. Meanwhile, Lizzy accidentally discovers love letters to Jane Fairfax, Lady Catherine hears rumors of Darcy’s courtship of Emma, and Mr. Knightley rescues the wrong girl at the ball.

Between Christmas parties, outdoor frescoes, and fireside chats, the Highbury community is in for all the drama their village can hold.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

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