Monday, August 2, 2010

What I Read Last Week

What I Read Last Week . . .

Dearest Cousin Jane by Jill Pitkeahley -- A Jane Austen novel
This book is a fictionalized biography of Jane Austen's lively cousin Eliza. Eliza was born in India Jane Austen's aunt Philadelphia and her husband Mr. Tysoe Saul Hancock. Eliza was the goddaughter of the Governor General of India and in the story, his illegitimate daughter. Eliza and her mother, Philadelphia, moved back to England when Eliza was a child. The girl was educated in France but enjoyed spending holidays with her Austen cousins. She loved entertaining in the lavish French style and cared deeply for her little boy who was ill. Eliza's story is often mentioned in Austen biographies and this book tries to flesh her out more and share with the reader how the interesting and outspoken woman influenced Jane Austen to defy social conventions and become a published author. I liked Eliza and it's easy to see why Jane was fascinated by her older cousin, but I did not like the way the story was told. Letters (real and fictional), journal entries and conversations between the Austens, Eliza, and their cousin Philly Walter make the story disjointed. It's difficult to switch points of view each chapter and each section is dated at the top rather than revealing the time through the narrative. I think the story could have been told in a more lively manner, to match Eliza's personality. This book is all right and if you want to read everything about Jane Austen, then pick this one up. It's more for the casual Austen fan than true Janeites.

Two Corinthians by Carola Dunn -- Regency Romance

Claire Sutton has spent her entire 28 years being belittled by her mother and protecting her sister Lizzie from the same fate. Claire prefers cultivating roses in her greenhouse to society, but she is determined to find a husband for Lizzie so they can escape their awful family. When Claire falls and sprains her ankle, a handsome stranger rescues her and she thinks he will make the perfect husband for Lizzie. Lord George Winterborne is finally ready to seek a wife now that his brother's happiness has been restored. He enjoys Lizzie's open manner and cheerful flirtation but she isn't the wife for him. Claire may be just the wife he's looking for, however, he has competition from Lord Bertram Pomeroy. Bertram is nursing a broken heart now that Amaryllis has been lost to him and has promised his ill father that he would marry soon. Bertram seeks a quiet, comfortable woman to be his wife. When introduced to the Sutton sisters, Claire finds him reserved and too concerned with appearances, but the outspoken, high-spirited Lizzie is able to bring out Bertram's true personality. Bertram and Lizzie are continually clashing and the sooner she finds a husband to take her in hand the better, in Bertram's opinion. Claire also has another suitor, Bertram's dandy cousin Harrison, who is seeking a rich wife. When the Sutton sisters head to London for Lizzie's come-out, the gentlemen do all that is necessary to help them feel welcome. As the King's coronation date approaches, signaling the end of the Season, neither sister has found a husband, so Lizzie decides to take matters into her own hands. The plot is well-paced and ends in a madcap comedic adventure almost worthy of Georgette Heyer. The characters all develop nicely and are mostly likable. I half fell in love with George myself. Bertram still comes across as stuffy and self-centered but he is a great foil for Lizzie and I love their witty exchanges. Though Claire is rather meek, it's easy to feel sorry for her and cheer for her when she finds happiness. She manages to stand up for herself when it counts, too. There is one character labeled an "idiot" but mainly the characters are kind to him. This isn't in my top ten Regencies, but it's a fun and fast tale that's perfect for fans of sweet Regencies.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.