Winner Announced in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge Giveaway!

The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 sidebar graphicWell Janeites, it’s been fun. A whole year of Sense and Sensibility  in celebration of the bicentenary of its publication in 1811.

I read 8 books, watched 2 movies and listened to one audio book. Here is a list of my reviews. A big thank you to my reviewer Kimberly who pinch hit the review of Expectation of Happiness for me when I was deep into my book Jane Austen Made Me Do It’s promotional Grand Tour in October.

My reading & viewing for the challenge:

  1. Jan 26 – The Three Weissmanns of Westport
  2. Feb 23 –  Sense and Sensibility 1981
  3. Mar 23 – The Dashwood Sisters Tell All
  4. Apr 27 –   Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries
  5. May 25 – The Annotated Sense and Sensibility
  6. Jun 22 – Sense and Sensibility 1995
  7. Jul 27 – Sass and Serendipity
  8. Aug 24 – Suspense and Sensibility
  9. Sept 28 – Sense and Sensibility (Naxos Audiobooks)
  10. Oct 26 – Expectations of Happiness
  11. Nov 23 – Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library)
  12. Dec 28 – Willoughby’s Return

83 of you signed up for the reading challenge. You can find their reviews in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge archive.

Anyone who left a comment or a review here on Austenprose or on any of the posts on the participants reviews posted on their blogs qualified for the Grand Giveaway: one copy of each of the twelve books/movies/audios that I reviewed and a Pemberley Shoppe tote.

The winner drawn at random is: JOY ANDREA who left a comment on August 25, 2011 on my review of Suspense and Sensibility.

Congratulations JOY ANDREA. To claim your boat load of prizes, please contact me with your full name and address by 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks again to all who participated.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winner Announced for Willoughby’s Return

Willoughby's Return, by Jane Odiwe (2009)31 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe.

The winner drawn at random is TARA FLY who left a comment on December 28, 2011.

Congratulations TARA! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by January 19, 2012. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Many thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge 2011. I had a wonderful year reading books and viewing movies inspired by Jane Austen’s first published novel.

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Irresistable Temptation, by Jane Odiwe – A Review

Willoughbys Return, by Jane Odiwe (2009)This is my final contribution to The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge 2011. Feeling nostalgic during the holidays, I resorted to an old chestnut in selection of my final read. I enjoyed Willoughby’s Return immeasurably when I first read it two years ago. After re-reading it again, I began to write my new review and quickly realized that I was just repeating what I had previously written – with the exception that my respect for Odiwe’s writing had increased in comparison to other Austenesque fiction that I had read since – so I increased my star rating from 4 to 5.

While the Jane Austen sequel industry abounds with numerous books inspired by Pride and Prejudice, regretfully there are very few sequels to Austen’s first published novel Sense and Sensibility. Why? Possibly because some readers have been disappointed with half of Austen’s unsatisfactory ending for her two heroines. While the two Dashwood sisters do marry: staid and stoic Elinor to Edward Ferrars and impulsive and free-spirited Marianne to Col. Brandon, the second pairings future happiness seemed doubtful. How could a young lady with Marianne’s intense passionate depth be happy with anyone other than her Byronic first love Mr. Willoughby – even after he threw her over for an heiress? Nagging questions arise. Did she settle when she married the Colonel? Would she be tempted into extramarital affairs and runaway with her lover? Possibly, leaving an intriguing premise for continuing the story.

All these concerns are addressed in Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation a new sequel to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Odiwe. How, or if they will be resolved to our satisfaction is now a possibility.

Three years after her marriage to Colonel Brandon, Marianne is the mistress of Delaford Park and the mother of a young son James. She has everything that a young married woman could desire: wealth, position, an heir and a loving husband, but her insecurities, jealousy and impetuous nature rob her of complete happiness. Resentful that her husband is frequently called away to attend his ward Eliza Williams and her infant daughter, Marianne “feels” that he cares for his other family more than his own. Their ties to the Brandon’s are strong and painful; Eliza being the daughter of Brandon’s first love who died tragically, and Eliza’s young child Lizzie the illegitimate daughter of John Willoughby the rogue who also threw over Marianne’s affections for an heiress five years prior. In addition, there is that imposing portrait of Eliza’s mother hanging in the Hall staring down at her. Every time Marianne passes it she sees the similarities of their appearances and doubts more and more if Brandon married her because he loved her, of if she is replacing the woman that he loved and lost years ago. When the charming rogue John Willoughby reappears in her life proclaiming he has never stopped loving her, the pain of their failed romance is renewed gradually replaced by conflicting emotions and the temptation to be with him again.

We are reintroduced to many of the characters from the original novel: Elinor Ferrars and her husband Edward, Mrs. Jennings, the Middleton’s, Lucy Ferrars and importantly Elinor and Marianne’s younger sister Margaret Dashwood who has her own romance in the course of the novel that may equal Marianne’s dilemma in emotion and drama. It could not be a Jane Austen sequel without talk of beaus, gowns and a glamorous Ball, so imagine everything most “profligate and shocking” in the way of young couples dancing and sitting down together! Margaret Dashwood supplies the shocking (to the horror of the neighborhood biddies) in her behavior by dancing more than three times in one night with one partner, Henry Lawrence, the charming and bold nephew of Col Brandon. Like Willoughby, Henry appears to be a good catch: attractive, well connected, an heir to a fortune and too irresistible. He wastes no time in pursuing Margaret’s affections. There is a surprise twist to their relationship that I will not reveal, but readers might recognize similarities to another Austen heroine.

Odiwe has captured Marianne’s spirit superbly. Romantic, impulsive and let’s face it, high maintenance! At times I really wanted to give her a firm dressing down and felt the same of Austen’s younger Marianne, so I knew that Odiwe had connected their characteristics seamlessly. Marianne may be five years older, but she’s still Marianne the drama queen and that makes for great entertainment! Interestingly, the two men in her life, Brandon and Willoughby, had fewer scenes than expected but caused many reactions to fuel the narrative serving their purpose. This was a nice mirror to women’s fate in Regency times. Men have all the power, women all the presence.

This is Odiwe’s second Austen sequel, and like Lydia Bennet’s Story she has chosen a character in Marianne Brandon that is ruled by impulse and emotion making for surprise and tension – all good elements to an engaging story that she delivers with confidence and aplomb. Developing younger sister Margaret Dashwood brought youth, vivacity and a bit of rebellion against social dictums to the story. Her romance with Henry Lawrence was an excellent choice as she shared the narrative equally with Marianne and balanced the story. Odiwe’s research and passion for the Regency era shine, especially in her descriptions of the country fair and fashions. It is rewarding to see her develop her own style evocative of Austen but totally modern in its sensibility. There were a few missteps with cadence and vernacular, but I am splitting hairs, and few will notice. Of course we are never in much doubt that it will all end happily, but unlike Jane Austen’s tale, the final transformation of the heroine’s troubling want of caution and choice of spouse will not prompt debate two hundred years later.

A light and enjoyable read, Willoughby’s Return is a charming tale that sweeps you back into Austen’s mannered world of a young girl searching for love and a married woman realizing it.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my twelfth 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 read the archive of all of my reviews and those of the other participants reviews posted in the challenge review pages here. It has been great fun to visit Jane Austen’s first published novel and many of the film adpatations and books that it has inspired this year. 

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Willoughby’s Return, by Jane Odiwe by leaving a comment by midnight PT, Wednesday, January 4, 2012 stating if you are Team Willoughby or Team Brandon and why? Winner to be announced on Thursday, January 5, 2012. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

The deadline to enter the Grand Prize drawing of The Sense and Sensibility Reading Challenge 2011, which includes a copy of each of the twelve items that I reviewed for the challenge in a Jane Austen tote bag from The Republic of Pemberley Shoppe will be midnight PT, January 4, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, January 5th, 2012. All of the participants in the challenge and the commenters in their review posts in the event are eligible.  Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!

Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation, by Jane Odiwe
Sourcebooks Landmark, Naperville, IL (2009)
Trade paperback (345) pages
ISBN: 978-1402222672

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard – A Review

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard (2011)As 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, we are offered another annotated edition to help us understand the social and historical context of the world that Jane Austen places us into in late eighteenth century England.

The Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library) is the first Jane Austen novel, in what I hope will be the bookend of Jane Austen’s six major works, to be offered in eBook format from Girlebooks. Yes, the format is digital gentle readers – and I think it quite appropriate that Margaret Sullivan is leading the way for us as its annotator. Many know Margaret as the editrix of AustenBlog.com, but she is also a strong advocate of digital books, and has for many years been waving their flag in attempt to prepare us for the inevitable. That time has come. This is the first book I am reviewing for Austenprose that is being produced solely for the digital market.

Sense and Sensibility is the tale of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, each cut from the same cloth, yet facing financial, social and romantic trials together from totally different perspectives, and – with varying degrees of hardship and success. Level headed and practical Elinor is the older of the two and often the only one in the family to keep her widowed mother and impetuous younger sister on a straight path. Marianne is wildly romantic and hell-bent to stretch the limits of proper decorum into the next county. Three men will change their life paths: Edward Ferrars, a reserved and stoic eldest son whose family aspires to greatest, yet he craves the simple life a country parson; Colonel Brandon, retired from the army and from love because of the loss of his first love many years hence; and Mr. Willoughby, handsome, charming and impassioned, but at a price. As the young ladies search for love, honor and financial security, Austen weaves in a rich social tapestry of minor characters, social commentary and the dry humor that she is renowned for.

While Sense and Sensibility offers some recognizable themes of the era of financially challenged young women searching for love and security in a society whose constraints sharply narrow their possibility of success, Austen has infused deep social context as well. Of all of Austen’s six major novels, S&S is driven by legal inheritance laws of primogeniture in England and how women were affected by them. These can be very puzzling to the contemporary reader and Sullivan’s notes throughout the text can help smooth a few furrowed brows. For example, in Volume One, Chapter two “Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress of Norland; and her mother and sister-in-law were degraded to the condition of visitors.” This one sentence is the lynchpin of the novel. If you understand why the widow Dashwood and her three daughters are be to displaced, downsized in social standing, the rest of the narrative will all fit into place. If you don’t you’re in trouble and will miss much of the inside story that Austen wants you to experience. If you tap on the numbered endnotes within the text, it will take you to the explanation. Tapping on the number again will take you back to the text. It is that simple.

With only 97 endnotes, this edition is not as extensively annotated as this year’s The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, Edited and Annotated by David M. Shapard, Anchor Books (2011), however, it does contain: A biography of the authoress; A bibliography and further reading; Information and Jane Austen’s life and culture; Author’s having fun with Jane Austen’; Fiction inspired by Sense and Sensibility; Films adapted from and inspired by Sense and Sensibility; and a buoyant forward and an unerring eye by the annotator. The illustrations by Cassandra Chouinard add levity, but are not expandable, so it was difficult to appreciate any detail. One must also take a leap of faith and assume that this is an unabridged text, but what version used, is not stated.

The eBook is available in Adobe Reader PDF, Kindle/Mobipocket PRC, ePub & Microsoft Reader LIT for the modest price of $2.99. Yes, there are a lot of “free” editions of S&S out there to be had for digital readers. Don’t be fooled by “free” gentle readers. Not all eBooks are created equal. The expert formatting and craftsmanship exhibited by this Girlebook edition is well worth the value.  For a middlin’ annotated edition, this Bicentenary Library presentation is “everything that is worthy and amiable.”

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eleventh 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.

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard
Girlebooks (2011)
Available at Girlebooks, Kindle US, Kindle UK, Nookbook Store & Smashwords

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winner Announced for Sense and Sensibility 1995

Sense and Sensibility (1995) DVD cover24 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a DVD of Sense and Sensibility 1995, staring Kate Winslet & Emma Thompson. The winner drawn at random is Nicole who left a comment on June 24th, 2011.

Congratulations Nicole! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by July 13th, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011. We are reading and viewing several S&S inspired books and movies this year in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s novel. You can read other reviews in the S&S Bicentenary review archive!

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine – A Review

The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine (2011)Today marks the official opening of the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011. *throws confetti* It is my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. Please read all the details of the event and join in the challenge open until March 1, 2011.

My first selection is the bestselling, feel good, let’s laugh and cry novel of 2010, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine. It will be released in paperback on February 1st, so no more procrastinating because of pocketbook woes.

There are so many raving reviews of this novel on the Internet I feel very late to the party. I usually write rambling book and movie reviews in excruciating detail, but for this challenge I am trying a new approach. Tell me if you like it, or hate it. I know you will. ;-) Here is the publisher description followed by my brief impressions:

Jane Austen’s beloved Sense and Sensibility has moved to Westport, Connecticut, in this enchanting modern-day homage to the classic novel. When Joseph Weissmann divorced his wife, he was seventy eight years old and she was seventy-five . . . He said the words “Irreconcilable differences,” and saw real confusion in his wife’s eyes. “Irreconcilable differences?” she said. “Of course there are irreconcilable differences. What on earth does that have to do with divorce?” Thus begins The Three Weissmanns of Westport, a sparkling contemporary adaptation of Sense and Sensibility from the always winning Cathleen Schine, who has already been crowned “a modern-day Jewish Jane Austen” by People’s Leah Rozen.

In Schine’s story, sisters Miranda, an impulsive but successful literary agent, and Annie, a pragmatic library director, quite unexpectedly find themselves the middle-aged products of a broken home. Dumped by her husband of nearly fifty years and then exiled from their elegant New York apartment by his mistress, Betty is forced to move to a small, run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. Joining her are Miranda and Annie, who dutifully comes along to keep an eye on her capricious mother and sister. As the sisters mingle with the suburban aristocracy, love starts to blossom for both of them, and they find themselves struggling with the dueling demands of reason and romance.

My Quibbles: The main characters were shallow, self-absorbed and hard to like; slim caricatures of Austen originals. Two fifty-something unmarried ladies and a seventy-something divorcee talking about themselves and wallowing in misery is not Austenish, at all. What happened to a witty comedy of manners? Maybe that was the author’s point. Are we more materialistic and bitter than nineteenth-century ladies in the same circumstances? Even though Betty (Mrs. Dashwood) was thrown over by her husband of fifty years for a woman half her age, I began to think he had good reason. Making Miranda (the Marianne character) a calculating literary agent gave me the shivers for those honorable agents in the profession, and Annie (the Elinor) the librarian, who should be stoic and admirable, is supporting her mother and sister, why? She is more an enabler of bad behavior than a help. Ack! The romance was more than a bit thin, and the end Louisa? Don’t even get me started. Find out for yourself!

My Praise: Funny, irreverent and quirky. The transformation of Austen’s early-nineteenth century classic to modern-day New York and Westport, Connecticut was a clever notion, mainly because of Schine’s understanding of the social context of both cultures. The Jewish humor was so appropriate. They have been persecuted for centuries and do irony and misery better than anyone else. When seventy-five year old impoverished Betty Weissmann rationalizes a shopping spree to Brooks Brothers and Tiffany’s in New York before she meets her soon-to-be-ex-husband and his attorney, because she must look stunning, you totally believe her and understand her character’s motivation. You do not agree, but you understand. While her daughter Miranda must have a shiny new red kayak to find her soul, you roll your eyes and compare Austen’s Marianne Dashwood romanticizing over dead leaves. Schine follows Austen’s narrative pretty closely and modernizes it surprisingly. The characters are foibled and fraught with emotion and angst. The secondary characters add humor and conflict.  If you can overlook some of the shallow soul searching, profligate spending and incredible coincidences that fuel the plot, this was a fun lark, albeit a bit annoying at times.

3.5 out of 5  Stars

A Grand Giveaway

Win one of two paperback copies of The Three Weissmann’s of Westport, by Cathleen Schine, by leaving a comment by midnight PT February 2, 2011 stating what intrigues you about reading a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility. Winners will be announced on Thursday, February 3, 2011. Shipment to US addresses only.

The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine
Picador (2011)
Trade paperback (304) pages
ISBN: 978-0312680527

© 2007 – 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Upcoming Reading & Writing Challenges, & Literary Blog Events in 2011

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration at My Jane Austen Book ClubThere are great reading and writing challenges, and  literary events in the queue around the blogosphere that have come to my attention. So many in fact, that I decided to combine the announcements into one grand post, so here goes.

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration

Maria Grazia at My Jane Austen Book Club is celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility by hosting a year-long blog event. Each month will feature a blog on a topic inspired by S&S from Austen enthusiasts and authors. I will be contributing as the final leg in December with my essay, Marianne Dashwood: A Passion for Dead Leaves and Other Sensibilities. You can check out the full list of bloggers participating and all of the prizes offered each month at Maria’s great Jane Austen inspired blog.

Jane Austen Twitter Project

Author of Murder at Mansfield Park, Lynn Shepherd asks if you would like to be part of a Jane Austen story project? If you are on Twitter, you can participate in a new multi-author story in the works.

She has been developing the idea with Adam Spunberg (@AdamSpunberg on Twitter) and they plan to run a storytelling session one day every week for about three months this year. Each week’s chapter will be posted online and on www.AustenAuthors.com on Sunday. You don’t have to be a published writer to join in – you just have to love your Jane! If you are ready to get your creative juices jumping, then check it out.

The Gaskell Reading Challenge

Katherine at GaskellBlog is hosting a six month reading challenge, January to June, 2011 of Mrs. Gaskell’s works. It’s as easy as selecting two to read and leaving a comment to commit. I have selected Moorland Cottage and will be participating also in her reading group event on the book February 1st to the 15th, 2011 to fulfill one of my challenge commitments. We shall see what my second book is as the year develops. Wives and Daughters? Ruth? Sylvia’s Lovers? I’m undecided. Any suggestions?

The Classics Reading Challenge 2011

Courtney at Stiletto Storytime is hosting a classics reading challenge in 2011. What is a classic you ask? To Courtney, a classic is a “book that has in some way become bigger than itself. It’s become part of culture, society or the bigger picture. It’s the book you know about even if you have not read it. It’s the book you feel like you should have read.” I heartily concur. There are four levels of commitment from 5 books to 40 for those seriously addicted classics readers. I have committed to the Student level at 5 books and will be reading Sense and Sensibility, a Gaskell novel, and three Georgette Heyer novels, because I consider her a classic of the Regency romance genre.

Heroine Love

Yes. We can never have enough love! It makes the world go around. Erin Blakemore, author of that great celebration of our favorite heroines, The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder is hosting a blog event February 1st – 18th, 2011 featuring 12 book bloggers writing on their favorite heroine’s and how they changed their lives. Yours truly will be participating on February 18th, (Last again. I know!) honoring one of my favorite heroines Elizabeth Bennet. In addition to the great gush of love for the literary ladies in our lives, there will be tons of swag, yes, great giveaways to reinforce the love all around!

Well gentle readers, get motivated and join in the literary love of writing, reading and books. My two challenges for 2011 are still open: The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge and the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge 2011. So…take the leap, and join the celebrations.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann