Friday, October 12, 2012

What I've Read Recently

What I've Read Recently . . .

 Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange -- Austenesque

Commander Frederick Wentworth comes to visit his brother in Shropshire. When he meets Anne Elliott at a ball, he enjoys her wit and lively mind. The rest, as they say, is history. This book tells the bare bones of Captain Wentworth's tale. The best part of the book is the first part which predates the events of Persuasion. I liked seeing Frederick and Anne fall in love and knowing why and then understanding what happened. I actually hate to admit it but I think Lady Russell was right, and in her position I would have cautioned Anne not to rush into marriage. The rest of the book is Persuasion from Captain Wentworth's point-of-view. There's not much there that's not in the original. I would have liked to know more about Frederick and what makes him the man he is. We know he's a loyal friend: Jane Austen tells us that and we know he's proud and stubborn. What else? Amanda Grange doesn't quite tell us. If you want more, you should read Susan Kaye's None But You and For You Alone.  If you like Amanda Grange's other diaries, you'll like this one too.

Elyza by Clare Darcy -- Regency Romance

Elyza Leigh flees her scheming chaperone and an unwanted marriage in London and heads off to her great-aunt in Bath dressed in the hall boy's best clothes. When her purse goes missing and an angry inn-keeper about to open her bundle, rescue comes in the form of a handsome young man. Cleve Redmayne pays her bill without batting an eyelash and takes the young Elyza, whom she thinks he believes is a boy, under his wing. Alas, Redmayne is perceptive and hits upon Elyza's secret. He promises to help her anyway and when he discovers she knows the woman he dreams of marrying, he encourages Elyza to return to London and then follow the ton to Brighton. Redmayne, fresh from India with a fortune in his pocket, a superb manservant and an Indian bodyguard, has returned to claim the hand of Corinna Mayfield, Society's reigning beauty, though he has never actually been introduced to her. Corinna has any number of suitors, including Elyza's crush and a penniless Marquis. Elyza is not lacking in the suitor department either, which enrages her potential husband Sir Edward, whose Mama wishes him to marry Elyza's fortune. Before the Season ends, Elyza will gain courage and understanding of her own heart but will she ever be truly happy if the man she loves loves another? This novel is a pale imitation of Georgette Heyer novels. The characters are less memorable though they are still interesting. I liked Elyza, for all her youth and naivety. She grows up a lot and she really understands what love is. Cleve is a mysterious hero. The story isn't told from his point-of-view and all we really know about him is bits of gossip and the parts he wishes known about himself. He's a sporting hero type, unassuming but able to hold his own, which I really like. There's so much going on in this story that the romance gets rather overshadowed as a consequence. There are many funny moments in the plot, especially involving Sir Edward's marriage proposal attempts as well as Mr. Crawfurd, a young bachelor and the indomitable Quigg. I enjoyed the story for a bit of diversion. If you love Georgette Heyer, this book is a good second choice. It's a cut above the paperback Signet and Zebra Regencies and far above the scandalous Regency Historicals.

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