The Year in Between: A Sense and Sensibility Variation, by Christina Morland — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

At the end of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility after the last vestiges of the book’s main conflicts, the reader is met with a less than meticulous summation that closes out the book. For those who fell in love with the Dashwood family and their friends—even those who are not their friends—there is a feeling of dissatisfaction about the wrap-up.  The Year In Between, by Christina Morland fills in that gap by continuing the story before Austen jumps forward to the marriage of Marianne and Col. Brandon, offering an in-depth and layered exploration of that time. We shall see if it quells our curiosity.

The story opens at the time of Elinor Dashwood’s marriage to Edward Ferrars and their preparations to leave Barton Cottage for Delaford. Marianne Dashwood’s health is restored, though she still struggles with the vestiges of a heartbroken by John Willoughby. She is determined to do better, but the loss of her capable sister leaves her for the first time in the role of eldest daughter of the Dashwood house and the responsibilities that come with it. Her personal observations are shared with her journal as are her connection with poetry, nature, and music. She is eager to visit her sister and new brother at Delaford, but is oddly reluctant and even irritated to encounter Delaford’s master, Colonel Brandon.

The Colonel has been generous and good to her and her family, but she is bewildered why he turns into a poker when it comes to her. In the past, she wronged him greatly with her silly and cruel jokes at his expense and her rudeness while she pursued folly with Willoughby, but now the taciturn man fascinates her—even when she resists being fascinated. Who is the man? His character is far from open though his actions show him to be honorable and noble and having sensibilities toward music and nature that match her own. Marianne is determined to get under the man’s skin yet doesn’t want to closely analyze why.

Meanwhile, Elinor is settling into married life at the vicarage and living in the village of Delaford. Love is strong and so much more than she could ever imagine. Her usual rationality and steadiness go out the window when she faces strained finances, a haughty and hurtful family of in-laws, the possibility of being with child, stirrings up in the village when the Colonel’s ward and her illegitimate son move into one of the cottages, and a husband who is struggling to not give into his fears about her health or his feelings of inadequacy. Elinor must adjust and somehow find a way through it while an interesting situation between her sister and the Colonel develops. When she begins to understand how deeply wounded and insecure Edward remains from his family’s treatment of him, she realizes being his helpmeet is complicated and full of pitfalls that require all her love and wisdom to fathom how to respond and care for her fledgling marriage. Continue reading

A Preview & Giveaway of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, by Jasmine A. Stirling, illustrated by Vesper Stamper

Happy Friday dear readers. I am excited to share a special children’s book with you today inspired by the early life of our favorite author. A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice was written by Jasmine A. Stirling and beautifully illustrated by Vesper Stamper. This picture book introduces readers to Austen’s “origin story.” It is sure to charm, delight, inspire, and entertain young and old alike.

We have an in-depth blog for you today so grab a cup of tea and settle in. Firstly, there is a slide show of the charming illustrations, then an enlightening guest blog from the author on “Five facts about Jane Austen that will intrigue your kids,” and finally an amazing chance to win several prizes. The giveaway details are at the end of the post.

A Most Clever Girl releases on March 30, 2021, so get your pre-orders in. I already have my gift list completed for birthdays and holiday presents.

Have a great weekend.

Best, Laurel Ann

BOOK DESCRIPTION 

For fans of I Dissent and She Persisted—and Jane Austen fans of all ages—a picture book biography about the beloved and enduring writer and how she found her unique voice.

Witty and mischievous Jane Austen grew up in a house overflowing with words. As a young girl, she delighted in making her family laugh with tales that poked fun at the popular novels of her time, stories that featured fragile ladies, and ridiculous plots. Before long, Jane was writing her own stories-uproariously funny ones, using all the details of her life in a country village as inspiration.

In times of joy, Jane’s words burst from her pen. But after facing sorrow and loss, she wondered if she’d ever write again. Jane realized her writing would not be truly her own until she found her unique voice. She didn’t know it then, but that voice would go on to capture readers’ hearts and minds for generations to come.

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 GUEST BLOG 

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The Earl’s Lady Geologist: The Linfield Ladies Series (Book 1), by Alissa Baxter — A Review

The Earl's Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter 2021From the desk of Melissa Makarewicz:

Miss Cassandra Linfield has been against marriage after seeing what it did to her dear mother. Lord Rothbury has loved, and then been rejected. Will two people so opposed to a romantic relationship be able to see that theirs was meant to be? In Alissa Baxter’s new release, The Earl’s Lady Geologist, a romance unfolds asking if the risks of love are outweighed by the rewards?

When I saw that this book was not only historical romance but also highlighted an actual woman from history, I knew I had to read it. More and more we are seeing the stories of women hidden from history. Reading a story that highlights a lady geologist sounded quite intriguing.

Cassandra is a lady who loves collecting fossils with her friend Mary Anning. She has lived a life in Lyme Regis free from the rigid rules of the ton. Her mother and father have passed away leaving her to the care of Cousin Agnes. A stuffier caretaker could not be found anywhere. Cassy has no plans to marry. She is quite content in her life of fossil collecting and research paper writing.

Lord Rothbury is a man of science. Geology is a passion of his that fits quite neatly into his structured life, and he plans to keep it that way. He has no space for sentimental fluff—especially after having been spurned by a lady in his younger days. Continue reading

A Preview & Giveaway of Fearful Symmetry: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Gailie Ruth Caress

Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress 2021Happy Friday dear readers. It feels like Spring in my neck of the woods and I could not be happier. Today I am sharing something else as restorative as the change of seasons to gladden a Janeite’s heart—a new Austenesque novel to add to your growing TBR pile. Fearful Symmetry has just been released this week by Quills & Quartos Publishing. It is a Pride and Prejudice variation worthy of your consideration by debut novelist Gailie Ruth Caress.

In the ever-growing field of Pride and Prejudice what-ifs, this novel is a bit different. To feed your addiction, the novel contains many of the characters from Jane Austen’s original, including our dear couple Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as the focus. Where Fearful Symmetry becomes unique is with its first plot crisis: a fire that engulfs Longbourn, the home of the Bennet clan. This pivoting point from the original story sends Austen’s characters off in a truly new direction before their HEA in the capable hands of Caress. Surprises and twists abound.

We are delighted to share an exclusive excerpt from the publisher with you today and a chance to win one digital copy of the book for our readers. Please check out the giveaway details at the end of this post. Good luck to all!

I am wishing you all a fabulous weekend.

Best, Laurel Ann

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Darcy had never known such a woman, one who could rush into an inferno and emerge as bold and brilliant as burnished brass, bright as any mirror.

Fitzwilliam Darcy had planned to leave Netherfield Park and all thoughts of the enchanting Miss Elizabeth Bennet behind him—until one night when he saw smoke rising from Longbourn and realized she was imperiled.

Elizabeth Bennet found Mr. Darcy arrogant and insufferable right up until he became her hero, pulling her and her sister from the fire that devastated their home and could have claimed both of their lives. Seeing how he put his own life at risk to pull her from the fire, how could she help but change her opinion of him?

Thrown together again in the refuge offered at Netherfield, Darcy and Elizabeth’s unexpected bond gains strength. But disapproval, debts, and doubts all arise when the costs in time and expense involved in rebuilding Longbourn threaten to widen the gulf in standing between Elizabeth and Darcy in the eyes of society. Amidst these perplexities of destruction and decorum, can love’s courage overcome calamity?

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

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Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion: An Austen-inspired Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion, by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright — A Review

Mr Darcys Persuasion by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright 2021From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s final complete novel, Persuasion—published six months after her untimely death—the heroine, Anne Elliot, is influenced by her prideful father, a baronet, to break off an engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth, who was considered a poor match due to his low social status and lack of wealth. Similarly, in Austen’s earlier novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the prideful man causing heartbreak over his disapproval of an undistinguished family. The consequences of such prejudiced persuasion collide spectacularly in Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion by prolific writing duo Cass Grafton and Ada Bright.

Mr. Darcy is in denial. In a letter to his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, he insists, “Despite your suggestion to the contrary, no young lady has caught my attention.” (152) Yet he flees Hertfordshire posthaste following the ball at Netherfield hosted by his friend Mr. Bingley, whom he has advised to avoid a growing attachment to Miss Jane Bennet. All the while, Darcy knows his own hypocrisy as he likewise advises himself to avoid the undeniable attraction he feels toward Jane’s younger sister, Elizabeth. He acknowledges that the Bennet family is far beneath the notice of a wealthy gentleman landowner such as he, thus he removes himself from danger and warns his smitten friend to do the same.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet holds a grudge, knowing that interference has led to her beloved sister’s heartbreak and now may lead to an even worse fate. In a happy twist of fate, however, she becomes acquainted with Miss Anne Elliot and is soon delighted by the diversion of an invitation to join her new friend for a fortnight’s visit to the Elliot family’s estate, Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire. Elizabeth finds Anne to be “a genteel lady, a little older than I, but we appear to have much in common. I find I like her very well.” (235)

For the benefit of his sister’s health and to avoid a harsh winter at Pemberley in Derbyshire—as well as to escape his memories of a certain bewitching young lady—Darcy travels south, hopeful of warmer weather in Somersetshire, where he has leased a property for the winter from Sir Walter Elliot. He is, therefore, rendered speechless when he discovers “Elizabeth Bennet. The woman he thought he had relegated to the past sat across the room from him, as alluring and unattainable as she had ever been, and raising inexplicable emotions in Darcy that he struggled to conceal, let alone comprehend.” (1457) Continue reading