Thursday, July 12, 2012

Austenesque Reviews

Austenesque Reviews

Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy by Barbara Tiller Cole -- Pride and Prejudice variation

While Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley are the happiest couple in the world, Mr. Darcy is utterly wretched. He thinks that Elizabeth is too embarrassed by his knowledge of Lydia's elopement that she will never speak to him again. Mr. Darcy has turned to drinking to drown out his sorrows and some heavenly spirits are terribly worried so they pay a call to show Mr. Darcy his choices and the outcomes of the choices he has made or could make. I could not resist this mash-up of two of my favorite books. I was sadly disappointed that this novella (141 pages of large print) did not live up to my expectations. The Christmas Carol story doesn't work very well. Mr. Darcy is shown how his actions affect himself and the people closest to him but it lacks the overall big picture that makes the original so compelling. Mr. Darcy realizes his mistakes early on, making the rest tedious. There's lots of crying and melodrama and none of it seems like Mr. Darcy. I do not think he's the type of man to drown his sorrows. Also the dialogue sounds too modern and casual for the19th century. This story is supposed to be family friendly but there's some veiled comments about certain feelings and activities that may cause curious young readers to ask questions or turn off other readers. I like the idea of this story and think that it would have worked better as It's a Wonderful Life

The Journals of Thomas Bennet by Lynne Robson -- Pride and Prejudice variation

Mr. Thomas Bennet recounts his life's adventures from the birth of his second and favorite daughter to one and half years after Pride and Prejudice ends. If you really want to know what Mr. Bennet is thinking and feeling and what happens to all the characters from the stories, then this book is for you. If you want a well-written, detailed historical novel (or novella) then do not read this book. The writing is not great. he book needed an editor. There are frequent misspellings or different spellings of the characters' names, family relationships are confused and one passage is repeated. I also found the spelling of God "G-d" distracting. It's not a convention that was used frequently in the nineteenth century. The story from Mr. Bennet's point-of-view is interrupted by footnotes explaining things the author learned in her research which is really distracting. I'd rather have it saved for an author's note at the end. I found the characters very flat and uninteresting. Nowhere is Jane Austen's witty dialogue and sparkling characters who leap off the page. Things happen in this novel that were never intended by Jane Austen who basically tells us how she wants her characters to end up. There are some really unbelievable plot twists in this novel that are even more unlikely than Mr. Darcy marrying Elizabeth Bennet. The author seems to have a cursory knowledge of Jane Austen and the Regency era based on a little research but doesn't seem to be a dedicated scholar. She is also aware of other fan fiction and incorporates some of the facts from other stories into her own. This really shows in the way Mr. Bennet writes and the word choices used. It doesn't sound nineteenth century nor does it sound like a real diary. I really plodded through this book and it's only 86 pages.  This is mediocre fan fiction not to be read by ardent Janeites or Regency fanatics. Neophytes, especially younger readers, might enjoy this quick, simple sequel to learn what happens next. 

A Man of Few Words by Katherine Woodbury  -- Pride and Prejudice variation

Mr. Darcy is the man of few words and as promised he provides a brief addendum to Pride and Prejudice sharing with the reader what was going through his head at the time. Mr. Darcy is a bit socially awkward and dislikes large gatherings of any type so when at the Meryton Assembly, his friend Charles suggests Darcy dance, Darcy rejects the idea without realizing who he is rejecting. Soon he's captivated by Miss Elizabeth's wit, intelligence and fine eyes but he refuses to admit he's infatuated but well... you know the rest. This is a very enjoyable story despite it's briefness.   The story is not as fleshed out as Pamela Aidan's Fiztwilliam Darcy, Gentleman chronicles (Mr. Darcy doesn't really tell us what he was up to when he wasn't with Elizabeth) but it hardly matters. The writing is good, especially the foreward which sounds nineteenth century. The dialogue is mostly taken from Pride and Prejudice and summarized with the rest of the text being Mr. Darcy's private thoughts. It's very sweet when he falls in love and especially once he fears he has lost his chance. I like the way he sees Elizabeth and how he comes to value her friendship above all else. Another thing I especially liked about this book was that we get to see Mr. Darcy interact with his servants and tenants. That makes this book very different from the usual variations and Regency novels. It shows the reader what kind of man he is and makes me love him even more. It also makes the plot more realistic than any of the other Regency set novels or Jane Austen variations I've ever read and even more realistic than the original. There are a few misspellings and typos which really bothered me and prevent me from giving the book 4 stars on Amazon. I'd say this is a 3 3/4 star book and a must-read for Mr. Darcy lovers. (Except those who only love Colin Firth in the pond .... there's no pond in this book). Overall, an enjoyable quick read.

Cooking With Jane Austen & Friends : Period recipes used in the Austen Household, updated for modern kitchens by Laura Boyle -- Historical Cookbook

 This little book from the Jane Austen Centre is part cookbook and part entertaining history lesson. The author explains the history behind the meals taken in Jane Austen's day, quotes from Jane Austen's writings and includes period recipes alongside modern adaptations.
 The cookbook is divided into sections by meals and each page contains a period illustration, an historical recipe, the context behind the recipe, a modern recipe and a beautiful photo. There are also photos of objects used in food production in Georgian times. Some of the recipes come from the cookbook of Jane Austen's friend Martha Lloyd who lived with Mrs. Austen, Cassandra and Jane. Other recipes are named after Jane Austen's fictional characters. The section on beverages is especially delicious-sounding with recipes for Arthur Parker's Fortifying Cocoa, Elizabeth Bennet's Light, Bright and Sparking Lemonade, Netherfield Negus and Mrs. Bennet's Perfect Cup of Tea. I haven't yet attempted to make any of the recipes but the modern directions seem easy enough to follow. Ingredient measurements are given both in metric and U.S. This is a beautiful and charming little cookbook - the perfect gift for any Janeite!

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