Giveaway Winners Announced for Expectations of Happiness

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2011)52 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins. The winners drawn at random are:

  • BeckyC who left a comment on October 7, 2011
  • Elaine Dale who left a comment on October 7, 2011
  • Nida who left a comment on October 12, 2011

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by October 9, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who participated in the giveaway and especially to author Rebecca Ann Collins for her great blog on her new Sense and Sensibility continuation, Expectations of Happiness.

© 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

Expectations of Happiness Blog Tour with author Rebecca Ann Collins, & Giveaway!

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2011)As 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first novel Sense and Sensibility, it is a great pleasure to see a new sequel to it arrive from Pemberley Chronicles author Rebecca Ann Collins.

Please join us today in welcoming Rebecca Ann on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Expectations of Happiness published this month by Sourcebooks. Rebecca Ann has kindly shared with us some insights on creating the novel.

Thank you very much, Laurel Ann, for inviting me to contribute to your blog; it is a pleasure to be able to speak directly to you and your readers about my work and the new book – Expectations of Happiness.

You have asked why I chose to write a companion volume to Sense and Sensibility and how I managed to “get my head into the Regency period after writing The Pemberley Chronicles.

If I may answer your second question first – I had absolutely no difficulty with the Regency Period, which covers the latter part of Jane Austen’s life; I was familiar with the historical, social and cultural background of that era.

As a Jane Austen addict ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility when I was just twelve years old, and a student of both English Literature and History, I had read everything I could get my hands on about the author, her family, her life and times.   Her novels were published within the period of the Regency so it was inevitable that a passionate reader and student of Miss Austen’s work and the society in which she lived would absorb the events and ambiance of the era. Continue reading

The Legacy of Pemberley: The Pemberley Chronicles No 10, by Rebecca Ann Collins – A Review

The Legacy of Pemberley, by Rebecca Collins (2010)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

The Legacy of Pemberley is the tenth and final novel in the acclaimed Pride and Prejudice sequel series by Rebecca Ann Collins.  The ten novels in the series cover the fifty years following the wedding of Elizabeth Bennet to Fitzwilliam Darcy.  It is by far the most complete series of sequels that I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

Beginning with a controversial engagement similar to Elizabeth and Darcy’s, we are thrust back into the lives of the Darcy, Bingley, and Gardiner families.  Continuing fifty years after the Darcy’s marriage we delve deeper into the lives of their children and grandchildren through marriage, death, friendship, love, conflict, etc.  As their childrens lives take center stage in the narrative Lizzie and Darcy make the difficult decision to travel to Europe with Jane and Charles Bingley in the hopes that it will restore Charles and Lizzie’s health.

“As you know, Richard, Charles, and Jane Bingley leave for Europe next week.  Bingley has leased a villa in the south of Italy where they will spend the Winter, and he has on more than one occasion invited us to join them.  Would it help Mrs. Darcy, too?  Would you recommend it?…Without any reservation , sir; it would be the very thing, since it would provide all those essential ingredients I have just mentioned.  In the company of Mr. and Mrs. Bingley, you would enjoy the benefits of travelling overseas without any of the aggravation of being with a party of strangers.”

With their departure as main characters, Collins is afforded the opportunity to focus on the characters she created and complete their storylines.  Character mysteries are solved, new romances begin budding, deaths are grieved, and much more.  This is only a sliver of the storylines that exist within The Legacy of Pemberley.

If this book was given to me without an author, I can honestly say that I might think that Austen herself wrote it.  Collins is without a doubt the only author I’ve read that has not strayed far from Austen’s style.  She is a true gem in the world of Jane Austen fan fiction, and it’s sad to see her Pemberley Chronicles series conclude.  They have afforded many Jane Austen purists an escape back in to the Regency world of Pemberley and into the Victorian-era.  Yes, the genre of Jane Austen fan fiction affords one the pleasure of exploring other characters and situations that would have definitely not existed in Austen’s original works, but Collins’ writing seems to transcend that.  Although it is an extrapolation of Darcy and Lizzie’s life it doesn’t feel like it.  We can grow along with them and feel as if we are there with them watching their children grow.

The series not only offers the reader the chance to feel like one of the family, but it gives insight into the social, political, and historical England of the period.  The Legacy of Pemberley takes place during the middle of the Victorian Era, where we can see the beginnings of the Christmas tree tradition that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert started making popular, as well as the beginning of trains and coal.

I personally have to state that I have not had the opportunity to read the books that fall in the middle of this series.  I did however read the first in the series a long time ago and remember being impressed with how rich the story and characters were.  Missing out on the middle books however did create some confusion for me in the characters.  Collins has created such rich lives for the characters that over the course of 50 years they’ve had children who have gotten married and have had their own children.  There are so many characters and so many storylines that I do have to warn you: if you haven’t read the other novels you might want to wait and read them in order.  It will definitely enrich the novels having knowledge of the characters from start to finish.

While all good things must come to an end, they do sometimes leave a “legacy” behind.  In the case of The Legacy of Pemberley and Collins’ entire Pemberley series, the legacy they inherit is a story with rich characters who teach love, family, friendship, honor, humility, courage, and much more.  If Austen were alive today, I think she would be proud that the themes so prevalent in her own novels continue to thrive in the works that emulate her own.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Legacy of Pemberley: The Pemberley Chronicles No 10, by Rebecca Ann Collins
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-1402224522

© 2007 -2010 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for June 2010

The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in June, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.

Austen’s Oeuvre

Pride and Prejudice (Fine Edition), Jane Austen

How many editions of Pride and Prejudice do YOU own? I won’t even begin to give you a hint as to how many are in my library. I’d be embarrassed to tell you. A dear friend recently gifted me another new hardcover edition by White’s Books out of London released in the UK exactly a year ago sporting an incredibly intriguing cover design by Kazuko Nomoto. It is even more stunning in person as the design actually wraps around the spine and continues on the back. I was so impressed I listed as one of my top ten favorite Pride and Prejudice covers to date. But what’s inside you ask? More decorative end papers, colored page tops, marker ribbon, elegant typeface, a text based on the first edition with minor emendations (R.W. Chapman or Kathryn Sutherland?) and thick, acid-free paper. Unique to the fine editions series is an “unusual text setting method rarely seen in the last hundred years. Each right-hand page sports what is known as a ‘catchword’: a hanging word that provides the opening of the following page. This aids the flow of reading, especially when using a larger, heavy page with a slow turning rate.” (Hmm? Not sure I buy into that last bit.) Weighing in at a hefty one pound nine ounces, this is not the edition you want to buy if you have carpal-tunnel syndrome, but it is the most distinctive edition available to enjoy prominently displayed on your bookshelf.  White’s Books, London. Hardcover, (416) pages. ISBN: 978-0955881862

Emma (Fine Edition), by Jane Austen, foreword by Andrew Lycett

Also in White’s Fine Editions series is this new hardcover edition of Emma with a foreword by Andrew Lycett and cover illustration by Amy Gibson. This cover does not give me goose bumps like the P&P edition does, mostly because it is too generic and offers no visual connection to the novel that I can think of. If anyone can help me out here, please have your say. I guess I am a book cover traditionalist. It should relate and enhance its content. Anyway, it is part of the set and will sit nicely with P&P and the other classics by the Bronte’s, Stevenson and Dickens offered by White’s Books. Publisher’s description: Emma, the comic and sharply observed story of young Emma Woodhouse’s education in life, is regarded by many as Jane Austen’s most perfect novel. Introduced to the reader as “handsome, clever, and rich,” Emma Woodhouse is also a spoiled, meddling matchmaker—Austen’s most flawed, and possibly most endearing heroine. Her fourth published novel, and the last to appear before her death, this lively comedy of manners is the work of an incisive writer at the height of her powers. Jane Austen is a renowned Regency novelist. Her other works include Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Andrew Lycett is the author of Dylan Thomas: A New Life, Ian Fleming, and The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes. White’s Books, London. Hardcover, (384) pages. ISBN: 978-0955881886

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired)

Northanger Alibi: The Austen Diaries, by Jenni James

A new author on the Austen sequelsphere is Jenni James, whose debut novel to be published in her new Austen Diaries series will be Northanger Alibi. Combining Austen’s early nineteenth-century Gothic parody Northanger Abbey with a modern vampire twist a la Stephenie Myers’ Twilight series, it  should raise a few eyebrows and our spirits just in time for summer light reading fare. The premise sounds like great fun, but as a professional bookseller I wish the cover was more appealing to the young adult (and young adult at heart) crowd that it is targeting. Publisher’s description: This modern Gothic remake of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, with a nod to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, will leave you in stitches. Seattle Washington, and the Russo family, are no match for Claire Hart and her savvy knowledge of all things vampire-related. Thanks to her obsession with the Twilight series – if there is anyone who would know a vampire when she saw one, it’s Claire. She’s positive that the totally hot Tony Russo is a vampire, and she just has to prove it! Follow Claire’s hilarious journey on her first summer adventure away from home, where she learns that everything isn’t what it seems, and in some instances, reality is way better than anything she’d ever find in a book. Valor Publishing Group. Hardcover, (310) pages. ISBN: 978-1935546153

A Woman of Influence: The acclaimed Pride and Prejudice sequel series, by Rebecca Collins

The ninth book in Ms. Collins’ Pemberley Chronicles series takes us well into Victorian-era England of 1868 continuing the story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice characters with Collins’ new tribe of children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins filling out the bill-o-fare. The further that Collins has progressed into the nineteenth-century, her writing style and the logic of this series has grown on me. Like a cherry on top of the cake, the cover design is one of the most stunning of the season. Publisher’s description: Acclaimed author Rebecca Ann Collins once again turns to the rich tapestry of Pride and Prejudice, moving the beloved characters forward and introducing new characters into a complex social history of an evolving period in English history. Contrary, opinionated, and headstrong, Becky Collins – daughter of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins – has always defied her staid upbringing with a determination not to submit to the pressures of Victorian domesticity and class distinction. She marries Anthony Tate, a man of wealth and power, believing it will enhance her opportunities to make something significant of a hitherto ordinary life, but quickly discovers that it brings her neither happiness nor contentment. Becky’s story is a glimpse behind the scenes of the complicated struggles that often lay behind the seemingly calm exterior of Victorian womanhood. Sourcebooks Landmark. Trade paperback, (336) pages. ISBN: 978-1402224515

Ransome’s Crossing (Ransome Trilogy), by Kaye Dacus

Last summer I read Ransome’s Honor, the first book in this series and was smitten. I am such a sucker for a Royal Navy man in a blue uniform a la Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion or C.S. Forester’s Captain Horatio Hornblower that I am totally ready to nail my colours to the mast for this one. Publisher’s description: Set in the early 1800s, this captivating, romantic second book of the Ransome Trilogy from author Kaye Dacus unfolds with the grace, power, and excitement of an ocean storm. Charlotte Ransome, desperate to reach Jamaica to see her secret fiancé, disguises herself as a midshipman for a convoy led by her brother, Captain William Ransome. Meanwhile, William and his new bride, Julia, face the rough swells of the sea and of marriage as they try to adjust to life together. When yellow fever befalls Charlotte and her identity is discovered, she begs first officer, Ned Cochran, and Julia to keep her presence and illness from her brother. But could this secret create insurmountable waves between Julia and William? And will Ned’s tender care of Charlotte change the tide of her affections forever? This smart, engaging tale is about holding on to faith during the journey to love and be loved. Harvest House Publishers. Trade paperback, (336) pages. ISBN: 978-0736927543

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann