Review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder
Gossip. It has the power to create larger than life reputations, but also has the ability to destroy said reputations. Within Jane Austen’s novels we’ve seen just what gossip can do; Mr. Darcy’s reputation and person are vilified by Wickham, John Thorpe gossips about the true size of Catherine Morland’s dowry to a displeased General Tilney, and Captain Wentworth hears gossip that shares the good tidings of Anne Elliot’s non-existent engagement to her cousin William. It should come as no surprise then that Austen fan fiction writer Shannon Winslow should write an Austen-inspired novel that focuses on just what can happen with gossip!
For Myself Alone takes place in Bath and Hampshire in the 1800’s. Winslow tells the story of Josephine Walker, the recent recipient of a large inheritance totaling almost twenty-thousand pounds, an unimaginably large sum at the time. While Josephine is grateful for the inheritance from her Uncle, she also is concerned that people will now view her as a walking pile of money instead of the sweet and caring girl that she normally is. What’s more, the suitors that come courting her can’t be trusted, and the only man in her life that she feels she can trust is Arthur, who also unfortunately happens to be the betrothed of her best friend, Agnes. Engaged herself, Josephine begins to lose trust in her own fiancé, Richard, after she overhears a conversation between him and his father. With all of these events happening to poor Josephine, how will she cope? Will she be able to find comfort in Arthur despite their inability to be together? What will she do with all of that money?
When I reviewed Winslow’s first novel The Darcys of Pemberley, I put in my review that Winslow was sure to be around the JAFF world for a while. For Myself Alone cements that thought in my opinion. Winslow has a fantastic ability to not only create a story that could be a long lost Austen novel, but to write it with the same wit and vivacity we’d expect from Austen herself. Told in a completely first person narrative (which may I add is refreshing in this genre) it opened up the doors to allow us into the mind of our heroine. We know exactly what she is feeling throughout, affording us the opportunity to really connect with her. I find the more you can connect with your heroine/hero the bigger the enjoyment of the work becomes.
The prologue of the novel did a fabulous job at grabbing my attention and making me eager to learn about Josephine’s story and why she was the sudden target of the local gossips. While the beginning of the novel moved slightly slowly, events in Bath pick up at heart-racing fast pace that doesn’t stop until the last page! For those who want a fresh story with a definite Austen flair, For Myself Alone is the way to go. I’m so glad that Winslow is back with another great work. I can’t wait to see what she can do in the JAFF world!
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2012)
Trade paperback (262) pages
Kimberly Denny-Ryder is the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association. When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.
© 2007 – 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose