Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, Edited by Christina Boyd – A Review

Sun-Kissed, edited by Christina Boyd (2015)From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:

Today I have the distinct honor of reviewing Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, edited by none other than my fellow Austenprose contributor Christina Boyd. It comes along at the perfect time of year as many of us are packing our beach bags full of summer reads that provide companionship while lying on a beach towel or sitting in a chair with our toes in the sand. I’ve always been a big fan of short story anthologies because they offer fun and tantalizing stories that typically lead me to read more of the authors’ works, much like an appetizer before the entrée.  This particular collection of works has been chosen for its relevance to summer or other light and refreshing themes. Although I personally don’t have any plans for a trip to the beach soon, I sat down with this collection on my back porch and improvised, taking in the light and fun works that soon whisked me away.

Since there are several stories in the anthology, here are their plot summaries from Goodreads: 

“So each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in…” Thomas Hardy

If you desire a little heat, a summer flirtation, or an escape to bask in your own private sun…this whimsical collection of original short stories is inspired by all things summer. From some of Meryton Press’s most popular and award-winning authors, the anthology debuts other promising and emerging talent.

Continue reading

Summer Lovin’ – Meryton Press Short Story Contest

Summer Lovin Short Story Contest 2015

My regular readers know that I really enjoy short stories, so much so that I edited an anthology of Jane Austen-inspired original stories, Jane Austen Made Me Do It in 2011. So, I am very pleased to share that Meryton Press, an indie publisher who specializes in Austenesque and romantic fiction is embarking on its first short story anthology called Summer Lovin’. The cherry to the top of the cake is that it will be edited by Austenprose’s long-time contributor Christina Boyd.

The contest runs February 1 – March 15, 2015. Here are the details from the publisher: Continue reading

Almost Persuaded: Miss Mary King, a Pride and Prejudice Short Story, by P. O. Dixon – A Review

Almost Persuaded Miss Mary King by P O Dixon 2013 x 200From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:

Jane Austen’s works have given us countless characters to fall in love with: Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Catherine Morland, Henry Tilney, Anne Elliot, Captain Frederick Wentworth, and Elinor & Marianne Dashwood. Along with these major players, Austen sprinkles in minor personalities who play a very small role in the plot, leaving the full back story to our imagination. P. O Dixon has taken one these lesser-known characters, “the nasty freckle-faced” Mary King, and given her story a chance to be told in her latest short story Almost Persuaded.

Mary King is accustomed to being in the background. She purposely shies away from the social spotlight, but is always keenly aware of the goings on around her. She can’t seem to keep her eyes off of George Wickham from the time they first met. Unfortunately for her, he doesn’t seem to have reciprocated any of these feelings, and in fact, does not notice her whatsoever. All that changes, however, when Mary becomes the recipient of a ten thousand pound inheritance. Suddenly she has gone from being a wallflower to the center of the social universe. Now she goes from pining for Wickham’s attention to having more attention on her than she could ever have wanted. Will this inheritance prove to be the key to finally winning Wickham’s heart, or a curse that haunts her to be alone forever? Continue reading

Jane Austen Made Me Do It eBook now $4.99

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)Huzzah! In honor of Jane Austen’s 237th birthday on December 16th, my fabulous publisher Ballantine Books has lowered the eBook price of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by 67% off list price to $4.99 for a limited time only!

YES! Only $4.99!!!

For those of you unfamiliar with my Austen-inspired short story anthology, here is a brief description:

JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart is a new short story anthology edited by Laurel Ann Nattress and available in trade paperback and eBook from Ballantine Books.

This delightful collection inspired by Jane Austen—her novels, her life, her wit, her world—features an introduction and twenty-two never-before-published stories written by twenty-four authors from a diverse range of interests and writing experience; their uniting link is their admiration and love of the literary great, Jane Austen. Stories included are:

Original short stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It

  1. “Jane Austen’s Nightmare”, by Syrie James
  2. “Waiting”, by Jane Odiwe
  3. “A Night at Northanger”, by Lauren Willig
  4. “Jane and the Gentleman Rogue”, by Stephanie Barron
  5. “Faux Jane”, by Diane Meier and Frank Delaney
  6. “Nothing Less Than Fairyland”, by Monica Fairview
  7. “Love and Best Wishes”, Adriana Trigiani
  8. “Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss”, by Jo Beverly
  9. “When Only a Darcy Will Do”, by Beth Pattillo
  10. “Heard of You”, by Margaret Sullivan
  11. “The Ghostwriter”, by Elizabeth Aston
  12. “Mr. Bennet Meets His Match”, by Amanda Grange
  13. “Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”, by Janet Mullany
  14. “Letters to Lydia”, by Maya Slater
  15. “The Mysterious Closet”, by Myretta Robens
  16. “Jane Austen’s Cat”, by Diana Birchall
  17. “Me and Mr. Darcy, Again”, by Alexandra Potter
  18. “What Would Austen Do?”, by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
  19. “The Riding Habit”, by Pamela Aidan
  20. “The Chase”, by Carrie Bebris
  21. “The Love Letter”, by Brenna Aubrey
  22. “Intolerable Stupidity”, by Laurie Viera Rigler

From Regency or contemporary, romantic or fantastical, each of these marvelous stories reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history’s most cherished authors.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It is the rare short-story compilation in which each and every one of the twenty-two stories manages to shine. Each contains a new take on Austen, a new concept of what Austen hoped to do with her life and work or even a new take on modern romance from Austen’s viewpoint.” — Romance Junkies

“Each story in this anthology is very unique. I had so many favorites among them that it was really hard to pick just two. If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you have to read Jane Austen Made Me Do It!” — Popcorn Reads

“For fans of “Austenesque” fiction, this collection will be a box of bonbons.” — The Seattle Times

Make haste! You can download a free sample of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and purchase this limited time reduced price of the eBook at these major online retailers:

If you don’t have a digital eReader, you can download the free software and read it on your PC, Mac, Blackberry, Ipod, or many other electronic devises. Just visit Barnes & Nobel or Amazon and follow the download instruction for your device.

Did you know that you can purchase eBooks as gifts? Yes. Jane Austen Made Me Do It is the perfect holiday gift for that special Janeite friend or family member. It is as easy as a click and an email address away from quick and easy holiday shopping.

Happy Birthday Jane Austen. Thanks for the making us do it. Enjoy!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 4 & Giveaway!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)Continuing the JAMMDI author interview that started on August 3rd, we delve deeper into the 24 contributor’s thoughts on Austen’s heroines…

Jane Austen’s heroines have been often imitated but never duplicated. From Elizabeth Bennet’s conceited independence to Fanny Price’s prudent convictions, Austen creates characters with real flaws and perfections that readers identify with. Which of her heroine’s do you connect with personally? Who would you like to offer advice to, and please share what that would be? Continue reading

Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 3 & Giveaway!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)Continuing the JAMMDI author interview that started on August 3rd, we move on to the 24 contributors revealing insights into the stories they wrote for the anthology…

3.) Share with us the inspiration for your story. How did you decide on the theme, setting and characters? Which elements of Jane Austen’s style, humor or characterizations influenced you the most?  

  • Knowing that reform of one’s natural tendencies is difficult, I decided to explore a situation in which Darcy’s character might be tested again but from an oblique angle he would not recognize. The short story format also dictated using characters already known. – Pamela Aidan
  • My inspiration for the story all started from the thought that so many women have identified with Jane Austen and her works.  But even as I enjoyed discussing my favorite characters with like-minded female friends, I couldn’t help but wonder if Austen’s reach extended in any significant way, towards the males.  And if so, how would they be affected?  I decided to explore one man’s point of view in my story.  And this is where it started.  And from there, the ideas started to snowball.  Perhaps my most favorite piece of Jane Austen’s work is Frederick Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot—and it is a significant portion of prose that exposes us to the mindset of a man, as interpreted by the authoress.  I wanted a contemporary man’s point of view so I knew my story would take place in the here and now.  I wanted a man who, like Wentworth, was poised on the verge of starting a new and successful life for himself, yet who was haunted by the past.  From there, the events seemed to flow.  My biggest challenge was point of view, simply because I chose to express Mark’s thoughts from the first person and, being a woman, it was a challenge to make his voice believably male.  I tried some unconventional ways to channel my own “inner male” in order to make it sound authentic.  It also helps that I have read and loved many great contemporary male authors who write from first person point of view, such as Pat Conroy and Wally Lamb. – Brenna Aubrey
  • Since 1995, I’ve published a series of novels featuring Jane Austen as detective.  One of the most beloved characters in the books is Lord Harold Trowbridge, who meets a tragic fate in book number six.  I’ve missed him enough—and know that readers have, too—that I relished the chance to offer up an earlier episode in his friendship with Jane.  I chose Bath in 1805 because the episode fell neatly between two books in the series set around that time; and Bath is such a classic Regency setting.  When I write these stories, I’m most inspired by the acerbic quality of Jane’s writing in her letters to her sister, Cassandra—that’s the true first-person voice I’m imitating in the books.  She could be flippant, scathing and wildly funny, particularly in her observations of people she found absurd.  That’s the tone I strive to reach. – Stephanie Barron
  • A daring young naval officer earns promotion to post-captain for heroic leadership while commanding a sloop in enemy waters during the Napoleonic Wars . . . Does that sound familiar?  While researching the Royal Navy for my sixth Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery, The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion), I happened upon a summary of a March 1800 battle in which Jane’s brother Francis (Frank) Austen was involved. The brief description intrigued me enough that after I finished writing the novel, I researched Frank’s encounter further, and soon realized that it was no ordinary battle—it was a tale of heroism that not only launched Frank’s naval career, but surely inspired Jane’s creation of Captain Wentworth.  Commanding only a sloop, Frank single-handedly captured five French ships in as many hours, with no injuries to his crew or damage to his own vessel. That achievement alone was enough to spark my imagination, but as I read Frank’s logbook, his report to the Admiralty, the lieutenant’s and master’s logs, and other primary sources, the details brought the story to life. The handwritten accounts, penned as events were happening, put me right in the middle of the action with Frank and his crew.  Frank’s story is a tale that truly captures the spirit of the Age of Sail. It is a story I had to tell—and so did his sister. If 200-year-old documents inspired me, imagine what it must have been like for Jane to hear her beloved brother relate his adventure in person, as Anne Elliot listens to Captain Wentworth in Persuasion. “The Chase” dramatizes that adventure. – Carrie Bebris
  • The story came to me, so there wasn’t any planning, but I think the root inspiration was that I see Jane Austen as a romantic in the deepest sense of the word. It’s been clear to me for a long time that she wrote Pride and Prejudice from the passion and pain of her relationship with Tom Lefroy. She found closure, to use that modern term, by creating another clever young lady of little fortune but giving her the triumphant ending she could never have. Therefore I feel sure that she enjoyed seeing other people’s relationships come to a happy conclusion, and would assist when she could. – Jo Beverley
  • It was my mad love for cats that made me think of the title. I originally wanted to do “Jane Austen’s Cat” showing her life from the cat’s viewpoint, as Virginia Woolf wrote Flush about Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but there was a catch:  Jane Austen didn’t have a cat.  So, imagination had to enter in. – Diana Birchall
  • Our (husband Frank Delaney) story’s inspiration came from a flourish of intelligence and knowledge as displayed by our own Austen heroine: Laurel Ann Nattress, our editor. Last year an “inscribed” Austen came onto the auction block in London. Was this signed by Austen herself? Or her fast-thinking publishers? Laurel Ann helped to set the record straight. She identified the volume, the friend to whom it had been inscribed, and pointed up the difference in the inscription from Austen’s own hand.  Frank and I had been looking for a project to work on together and had settled on a pair of un-intended, if not unwilling, sleuths. We wanted to create an entertaining couple who embodied the idea and detail of contemporary glamour, style, wit and world-view – something about which we’ve felt the lack in modern and culture – sort of Jane Austen meets Graydon Carter. We looked at Nick and Nora Charles in the books and movies of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, and asked what kind of crimes might their modern successors solve? Laurel Ann’s depth of knowledge, reiterating the point that there is no autographed copy of a Jane Austen volume, became our starting point. If a major auction house couldn’t tell this without research, then what might your average, garden variety movie star know about such things?  And wouldn’t a con man find an easy, fair-game audience in such a mark? – Diane Meier
  • I love writing mysteries, and although I’ve not written any since I came to live in the U.S. (too busy with my Irish novels), I’ve been longing to get back to them. “Faux Jane” became a perfect toe in the water, and chimed with some ideas among the extensive notes that I had already made for some U.S. based thrillers. – Frank Delaney
  • The new production of Emma with Romola Garai had just come out, and I really enjoyed it. I thought it brought out some of the psychological dimensions of the characters very well indeed. It brought home to me in particular what a sacrifice Mr. Knightley is making for his new wife Emma by moving to Hartfield. It’s a very curious thing, really. Mr. Knightley seems such a stodgy person, you wouldn’t think he’d be willing to give up the comfort of his own home to accommodate the woman he loves, yet there it was. You could say he was simply being practical, but it wasn’t, not at all. He could have always insisted that Mr. Woodhouse should come to live at Donwell Abbey. Even for a modern man it would be quite a step to take, let alone someone in that time period. I wanted to look at this issue a bit more, though I wanted to stick to Jane Austen’s lighthearted treatment as well. I find Emma very funny, and I wanted to capture that lighthearted, playful spirit. – Monica Fairview
  • I’ve always wanted to know why Mr Bennet married Mrs Bennet and so I decided to write about their courtship. I was very much influenced by Jane Austen’s humour and her irreverent yet realistic way of looking at life. – Amanda Grange
  • I knew I wanted to write from Jane’s POV, as I did in my novel, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. I love Jane and her characters so much, I thought, why not combine them? What would happen if Jane was undecided about what to write next, and was both haunted and guided by her own characters? What fun it would be to hear what her own characters thought of themselves! – Syrie James
  • My inspiration was mainly from the movie An Education, which so brilliantly evoked the atmosphere of England in the 1960s and brought back memories of my own schooldays. If there’s any relation to an Austen book at all I think the main character bears some relation to Fanny in Mansfield Park finding her way as the most junior member of staff in a very hierarchical school system. – Janet Mullany
  • Writing the introduction to this anthology was a big challenge for me. I had so many points I wanted to make about Jane Austen, her writing, the Austen sequel genre, and the twenty-two stories that were included. How could I make it interesting without it reading like a laundry list?  I ruminated and stewed over it for months. Finally, I decided to write about how I was introduced to Jane Austen, some of the reasons for her incredible popularity, a brief history of the Austenesque sequel genre, and a teaser to what was included inside. It was a lot to fit into 1,500 words, but the stories in this collection are the real treasure. I was just the warm-up act. – Laurel Ann Nattress
  • As with all of Jane’s novels they tend to finish quickly, and leave you wanting more. I really wanted to know how Anne Elliot’s family would take the news that she and Captain Wentworth were to be married at last. Would Sir Walter welcome his new son-in-law with open arms, or would there still be a certain amount of tension between them? I always wanted to know more about Anne and the Captain’s relationship in the past, and wanted to include Anne’s thoughts and fears for her unknown future as she looked back to the past. Contrasting the gentler, rural background for their first meeting with the harder, city environment of Bath was a special consideration in the settings, and I wanted to show how much more comfortable I felt Anne and Frederick would be in the natural, country landscape of a vicarage garden. The characters in Persuasion are so rich with possibilities; each with their own characteristics, and trying to emulate the particular foibles of each one was fun. I’m always conscious that I’m writing for a modern audience, but I want them to recognize that Jane Austen inspires the writing in the use of language and tone. – Jane Odiwe
  • My story is inspired by an actual walking tour that I was fortunate enough to experience.  If you’re ever in London, I highly recommend Original London Walks.  Our tour guide, Janet, turned up in full Regency costume even though my daughter and I were the only two people on the tour that day.  I loved experiencing London through Jane Austen’s eyes, and with Janet’s help, we were transported back almost two hundred years.  I wanted to share some of that experience with readers, and so I incorporated elements of it into “When Only A Darcy Will Do.”– Beth Pattillo
  • My story was inspired by my novel Me and Mr Darcy. I wanted to revisit the characters and explore what would happen if we picked up on the story four years later. In my original novel, Emily and Spike get together with the help of Mr Darcy, and move to New York together. In this short story we meet them again, only to discover that there are problems in the relationship and Emily has come back to London for a short visit. Only to bump into Mr Darcy again… – Alexandra Potter
  • Although I write Regency Romances, I’ve never been tempted to use Jane Austen’s characters for my books.  Probably because I’m pretty sure that whatever I come up with would not be the characters I’ve grown to love.  But I was intrigued with the idea of using one of her novels as a jumping off point for an idea that mirrored one her stories in certain ways.  In my story “The Mysterious Closet,” I took the opportunity offered by this anthology to try my hand at a story set in the present but based on Northanger Abbey, her funniest novel. – Myretta Robens
  • We (Caitlen Rubino-Bradway) initially decided that we wanted to “do a 180” from our Lady Vernon and Her Daughter – something contemporary, and YA. One important element of Austen’s work is her knack for using dialogue to reinforce character. Dialogue (word choice, vocabulary, use of idiom) is influenced by age, gender, education/literacy, parental or cultural influences, social status, and profession. Austen, like all good “dialogticians”, gets that. Thus, despite being raised in the same household, the five Bennet sisters have distinctive language styles, shaped by differences in inclination, influence and education. So what we tried to do is to develop a distinctive narrative style for our main character, James Austen. – Jane Rubino
  • When we (Jane Rubino) first started talking about our contribution, we agreed that there would probably be a lot of Austen sequels and period pieces in the anthology.  So we decided to do something completely different.  What’s more different from Jane Austen than a modern teenage boy?  It all came together when we paired our teenage boy with an idea we’d had for a while.  We’d tossed around the idea of a modern person hooking into Jane Austen and discovering that following Austen made them stand out from the crowd.  While the style is definitely different, the modern setting still let us tap into a lot of Austen-type humor. – Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
  • Once I had chosen my character, wonderful Jane provided all the settings. As for the theme, I was inspired by Lydia Bennet’s wild speech to Maria and Elizabeth when they meet after the fateful stay at Hunsford: ‘Have you seen any pleasant men? Have you had any flirting? I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband before you came back.’ It was obvious that Maria, like Lydia, would be fascinated by everything to do with romance, and this had to form the theme of my story. Though Maria is a very minor character in P&P, she is the subject of lively humour, and Jane makes vivid fun of her impressionable naivety. So I built up that side of her.  The question of style is problematic. With my Darcy novel, I was careful not to copy Jane’s style, but to make Mr. Darcy’s writing more masculine, muscular and also more influenced by his classical education – the sort of writing a man would do in the Georgian period. I read works by other Georgian writers for inspiration. Writing as Maria Lucas, I did re-read the sparkling dialogue of Lydia Bennet and Isabella Thorpe in particular, and couldn’t resist including some of their expressions in Maria’s artless letters. – Maya Slater
  • Persuasion is my favorite of her novels (as described above). I like the novel so much that I became interested in reading novels about the Age of Sail, particularly C.S. Forester’s Hornblower novels. When I read Peter Simple by Captain Frederick Marryat, who was a real-life Royal Navy captain of Wentworth’s generation, I was enchanted by a very funny passage about some midshipmen auctioning off the rights to woo the prettiest of Peter’s sisters. The way they talked about pretty sisters made me think back to the passage in Persuasion in which Captain Croft, while discussing the speed of his courtship of Mrs. Croft,  said he had heard her spoken of as a pretty girl, and thought to myself that something like the scene in Captain Marryat’s book was probably how that had happened! When Laurel Ann asked me to participate in the anthology, I remembered that scene and decided to write a story about the Crofts’ speedy courtship, bringing in some elements from Captain Marryat’s book. – Margaret C. Sullivan
  • I was inspired by the delicious written letters of the time.  I love the process of writing a proper letter, the paper, the ink, the care, the folding of the letter to make an envelope, the lovely wax stamps- the insignia- it’s all very formal and thoughtful. – Adriana Trigiani
  • The idea for my story, “Intolerable Stupidity,” took me by surprise; I had intended to write something quite different. I certainly didn’t intend to write what amounts to a commentary on the act of writing an Austen-inspired story in the company of others writing Austen-inspired stories. The vision of the courtroom in which Darcy was suing people like myself just popped into my head, and I started laughing out loud. And wrote it all down. I saw the court as a comic metafictional madhouse that was as twisted as the Chancery Court of Bleak House, or the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party of Alice in Wonderland.  One of my favorite Austen lines, which is from Northanger Abbey, provided the title of my story: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”  I also never thought that I would write a story that included any of Austen’s characters, though my novel Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict includes a cameo appearance by Jane Austen herself. And I have to say that having Lady Catherine de Bourgh as a character in my story was even more fun that having Darcy as a character. Who would be more appropriate than Her Ladyship to preside over this poor excuse for a justice system? After all, Austen did describe her as “a most active magistrate.” – Laurie Viera Rigler
  • When Laurel Ann approached me about writing a story for the anthology, I’d just finished writing a book on Jane Austen’s own turf, Bath in 1803.  In fact, Austen had been a character in the story even though I’d sworn right and left I wasn’t going to do that—but that’s another story.  I had about six months before the short story was due and I vaguely supposed that I would set it in that same world.  I’d already written eight books set in the early nineteenth century, so it felt like home turf.  My Austen book, The Mischief of the Mistletoe, had been loosely based on Austen’s The Watsons.  The cranky sister, Margaret, could use a redemptive short story—or maybe I should do something about Austen herself?  I have no idea how I came to write a story set in 21st century Britain about an American journalist on a low budget TV program called Ghost Trekkers.  Blame it on Northanger Abbey, blame it on too many formative childhood watchings of Scooby-Doo, blame it on that last gin and tonic, but when Laurel Ann emailed to ask what I’d be writing about, it just popped out.  I settled down to watch a few episodes of Ghost Hunters for inspiration, re-read Northanger Abbey, and there you go. – Lauren Willig

Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress by leaving a comment answering if you were to write a short story inspired by Jane Austen, what or who would you choose to write about and why? Deadline to qualify for the drawing is 11:59 pm, Wednesday, August 22, 2012. The Winner will be announced on Thursday, August 23, 2012. Shipment Internationally. Good luck!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books (2011)
Trade paperback (446) pages
ISBN: 978-0345524966

Read: Question 1, Question 2

Please join us next Friday for the fourth of the fifteen questions and answers that will be posted over the next several weeks.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

A Pemberley Medley: Five Pride & Prejudice Variations, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

Pemberley Medley, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)Review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder

Whenever I finish an Abigail Reynolds book, I never feel like I’m completely done with the story.  What I mean by this is her writing always gets me totally engrossed in the stories making me wish they’d never end.  I always feel satisfied with where they’ve gone plot wise, but she writes characters so well that I always end up wishing for more. Fortunately for us Reynolds fans, she published A Pemberley Medley, a collection of short stories that represent different “what if” scenarios for our beloved Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.  All five short stories are variations on the original Pride and Prejudice that we all know and love.  I wanted to leave you surprised by the plot of the majority of the works, but I couldn’t pass on the chance to tell you about my favorite (and also the first) short story of the book.

Entitled “Intermezzo”, it takes place on Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley’s wedding day, although Darcy is nowhere in sight.  He is still too brokenhearted and raw over the failed proposal attempt at Hunsford.  He decides that staying away and not seeing Elizabeth would be a better option.  What would happen if Darcy chose to show up at the last minute, only to find himself seated next to Elizabeth for the wedding breakfast?  Will he find a changed Elizabeth, or will she still be filled with hatred and contempt for him?

The other creative short stories are entitled “Such Differing Reports”, “Reason’s Rule”, “The Most Natural Thing”, and “A Succession of Rain”.  Fans of Reynolds’ To Conquer Mr. Darcy will want to pay special attention to “Reason’s Rule”, as it’s a scene from that novel that was left on the editing room floor.   The Most Natural Thing is a novella told in three parts that see Darcy as a “dark” character.  Fans will definitely be pleased with the variety of stories this compilation offers.

I feel that Reynolds has always excelled most at her characterizations.  She writes wonderful soliloquies that offer great insight into the character’s thoughts, feelings, and wishes.  Her ability to really connect with what her characters makes them that much more lifelike, and adds to the authenticity of the work as a whole.  Perhaps that is what makes Reynolds such a bastion of the JAFF world.  She keeps us wanting more, and makes any retelling of Pride and Prejudice seem like it’s the first time we’ve ever read anything outside of the original.

I especially enjoyed the short story format, which allowed Reynolds to cover more characters and plot than she would have in a traditional novel, and this added to the quickness and overall tone of the work.  I felt as if I covered a lot more ground in one reading than I would have with a detailed novel.  (Maybe these short stories will be fleshed out into full length novels? We can only hope!)  It was a fresh approach that I hope Reynolds will repeat in the future.  Overall, it came as no surprise that I enjoyed all of these short stories, especially the one that required the biggest change of heart for Mr. Darcy.  I’m always a sucker for a good romance, and Reynolds knows just how to appease my palate.  Bravo for a job well done!

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pemberley Medley: Five Pride & Prejudice Variations, by Abigail Reynolds
Intertidal Press (2011)
Trade paperback (212) pages
ISBN: 978-0615470337
Kindle: ASIN: B0069TPCQ8

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