Thursday, October 25, 2012

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella -- Women's Fiction

Poppy Wyatt is in big, big trouble. She's lost her engagement ring in the middle of a hotel fire drill. The ring wasn't just any old ring it was an heirloom, belonging to her fiance Magnus' family. He had to get it out of a special vault and everything. Trying not to panic, Poppy sends texts to all her friends who were with her what it happened. While checking her messages, Poppy's phone is stolen. Now she's in even more trouble but luck is on her side when she finds a mobile phone in the trash. Finders keepers! Now everyone can call her on the phone if the ring is found. Only one tiny problem - the phone belonged to a former PA at a consulting group and the boss, Sam Roxton, wants it back. Since Poppy does Sam a favor, he allows her to keep the phone if she forwards his messages. Meanwhile, Poppy is trying to keep up with her intellectual in-laws, hide the fact that she's lost the ring and give in to her wedding planner's crazy demands. Poppy can't help but noticing that so many people are trying to get in touch with Sam and he seldom replies. When he does, his messages are very brusque. Poppy has no business critiquing his e-mails, but she just can't help herself. She thinks she can help. Poppy's help only causes more chaos but it brings her a sort of bizarre friendship with Sam. Poppy has a lot to learn from Sam and he from her. When a potential scandal threatens the company and Poppy may be the only one who can help. This is a typical Sophie Kinsella novel. It's light and breezy and has a lot of funny moments, especially in the beginning. The characters are culled from Sophie Kinsella's previous novels. For example, Poppy is very immature and the story documents her growth. Some of the plot elements are also recycled from previous stories. There's a little bit of a darker element to the story that helps round out Poppy's character development. I appreciated the extra added element. The plot drags in the middle and then ends too quickly. I didn't have difficulty putting the book down at first but I wanted to see how it ended. Even though the ending seemed like it could be predictable, there was a plot twist that made me doubt the outcome I had envisioned. My biggest complaint is that the premise of the story could never happen because if your phone is stolen, the wireless carrier can transfer your account to a new phone right away. I can suspend disbelief though because Poppy was in a panic. The one thing I really hated about this book were Poppy's annoying footnotes. I hate footnotes to begin with and hate them even more in fiction. If you like Sophie Kinsella's other books, you'll love this one too.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale -- Austenesque Fiction

Charlotte is a thirty-something divorcee with two kids. Her kids and her business are her whole world now that her two-timing husband has left her. On a whim, Charlotte picks up a set of Jane Austen's novels and begins to read and becomes hooked on the simple and elegant world of the novels. Deciding she needs a break, Charlotte books a trip to Jane Austen's England - literally. Austenland is an all -inclusive immersion Regency experience typically geared towards women needing an Austen fantasy. The other guests include Miss Charming, a middle-aged romantic; Miss Gardenside, a young lady suffering from consumption (who, in the real world is a teenage pop star with a big secret) and Miss Gardenside's nurse, Mrs. Hatchet. The gentlemen, portrayed by actors, are there to woo the ladies. There's one for each of them: the charming and foppish one; the handsome, charming, lovable one and the brooding one. Charlotte is curious about the brooding Mr. Mallery, her assigned love interest. Is he playing a character or is he really brooding? She has misgivings about being assigned such a man as a love interest. Charlotte also wonders whether Col. Andrews' thrilling tale of murdered nuns is true or part of the script. She also wonders about Mr. Wattlesbrook appearing and disappearing. Charlotte's questions increase when she stumbles across a dead body in a secret room. Everyone else believes her imagination is running away with her. Charlotte is convinced the body was real but she has no proof. Is she more like Catherine Moorland than she thought? Is the body all part of the game? If not, then her life may be in deadly danger. Charlotte doesn't know what's real and what's not real. She even questions the feelings of one who would love her. She's been hurt before and she's not about to let it happen again. If she can solve the mystery and get home to her kids alive, she'll be content; or will she? I picked up this novel even though I didn't like Austenland very much but I decided to give this one a try because I thought it would be a fun read for this time of year. It seemed from the description on the dust jacket that the story would be a take on Northanger Abbey. If I had known the main character was a divorced mom, I probably wouldn't have read it. I really can't relate to Charlotte, never having been in her shoes. I found her very deeply scarred and needy. She's a bit of a doormat at first and spends most of the story worrying, especially about her kids, and fretting over what happened with her husband and what might have been; all of which makes her very annoying and unappealing. Slight spoiler alert: I had a problem with Charlotte falling in love because she was so deeply hurt. She fell in love with the safe option and I do not see their relationship as a healthy one at this point. The story chronicles her journey to truly becoming a well-adjusted adult and I think it should have been left at that, minus the romance. More spoilers ahead: The plot didn't develop at all like I expected it to. I thought this story would be an amusing update of Northanger Abbey and SPOILER ALERT it turned out to be a murder mystery! It was just weird and totally out of place for a Jane Austen wannabe novel. The writing was very good though. The story alternates between Charlotte's past and present. The transitions are not awkward at all; the story flows well. I liked the descriptions of pseudo Regency life. I liked that Charlotte didn't know anything about the Regency period so the author could explain things without stepping out of the story, however, I found Charlotte's lack of willingness to play along very irritating, especially her dialogue. Miss Charming is very stereotypical but at least she tries. This time around I was more interested in Austenland and the experience though I think it's weird and it seems to attract mainly sad, lonely women which I have a real problem with. I'd like to see a confident heroine visit Austenland and make the most of it. I would not recommend this book to someone looking for lighthearted fun. If you love Northanger Abbey, Jane Eyre and Rebecca, then you might like this one. I found that it had far too many flaws and wasn't what I expected or wanted to read.

A Match for Melissa by Kathryn Kirkwood -- Regency Romance

This is a retelling of Cinderella, without magic and set in real life early 19th century London. This story is incredibly simple and light that it doesn't require any sort of thought. It's just the sort of pleasant thing I was looking for. I can't say that I enjoyed the story very much though. The characters were just TOO good and selfless. I found them all boring, especially Lissa. I wasn't attracted to the hero. I think he's an idiot and doesn't deserve Lissa at all. How could he fail to recognize her at the end? That part was forced to fit the Cinderella story and didn't fit with the rest of the plot. The writing is OK. There's quite a bit of period description, especially of food, which I really liked. I liked the depictions of the social life and customs of the era but the story just didn't feel realistic at all. I love a good fairy tale romance but there has to be more to the story than that. I'm just not into straight up fairy tales, as much as I try. Read this one only if you love fairy tales.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Edenbrook (A Proper Romance) by Julianne Donaldson -- Regency Romance

Seventeen-year-old Marianne Daventry hates living in Bath. Snce the death of her mother in a tragic riding accident, Marianne's father has been living in France nursing his grief while Marianne was sent off to live with her cantankerous grandmother in Bath. Marianne longs for the country and escape from her fish-lipped, bad poetry-writing suitor. Relief comes when her twin sister Cecily writes from London (where she has been enjoying the Season) to invite Marianne to a country house party at the home of one of their mother's old friends, Lady Caroline Wyndham. Cecily has her sights set on the baronet, brother of her dear friend Louisa Wyndham. Marianne knows she can't compete with her sister, for whatever Cecily wants, she gets. Marianne is happy just to be going back to the country. The journey to Kent is far more dangerous that Marianne had ever dreamed. Along the way she meets a haughty young man with whom she matches rudeness with rudeness, learns to laugh at herself and then finally witty, flirtatious banter. The young man, Phillip, rescues Marianne when she doesn't feel it is necessary when she's surely to never see him again. He turns up again in an unexpected location. Marianne is confused about her feelings for Phillip.  Phillip is kind but also flirtatious and when he turns out not to be who she expected, she feels betrayed. Gentlemen try to court Marianne, but she's simply not interested.Her sister continues her ruthless, and scandalous quest, to marry a rich man leaving Marianne far behind. Their kind hosts try to help things along but Marianne remains confused. Could it be possible that Phillip and Marianne are more alike than she realized? Could he possibly favor her as a friend or maybe even more? Will Marianne ever get the happy ending she deserves? She must search her soul to find out what she truly wants and then discover how to get it. At first this book reads like an average pale imitation of a Georgette Heyer novel with more modern language. There's actually more depth to the story than Heyer usually included in her novels. This depth is what saves the novel from being just a lukewarm copy. The story lacks of the language and many of the period details that make Georgette Heyer's books so appealing. This story does contain beautiful descriptions of the English countryside though and an English estate, which I really enjoyed. The characters are mostly so-so to start with but the major characters develop nicely. Marianne is too self-denying. She truly lacked self-confidence which made her unappealing at first. Her backstory explains why she is the way she is and her character develops and grows throughout the novel. I liked her enough to want to root for her but if I were her, I would have scratched out my sister's eyes long since. I'm the elder sister though so I can't identify with Marianne's feelings of second place. Phillip is a fairy-tale hero. He's similar to the Georgette Heyer's sporting heroes. He's perfect and his whole family is perfect. In short, the Wyndhams lack depth. I would have liked more backstory or seen events unfold from Phillip's point-of-view. The plot is slow to begin with but picks up once Marianne is on her way to Kent. There were several plot twists; most I didn't see coming at all. Some of them are really rather unbelievable, especially Cecily's reaction at the end. That happened too quickly also. The plot is helped by Marianne's relationship to her absentee father and her relationship with her grandmother. These relationships keep the story from following the typical Regency plot. The romance, is as usual, obvious, but it develops wonderfully. I loved seeing the two characters get to know each other and really let their true selves shine, especially Marianne. There are some funny, lighthearted moments, especially when the secondary characters appear. My biggest complaint is the timeline of the novel. It takes place in Summer 1816, one year after Napoleon is vanquished yet Phillip went on a Grand Tour and Papa has been living in France for 14 months. I would have set the story a little later to make those plot points work. This book reads like a young adult novel and is similar to the old Signet and Zebra Regencies. If you like those, you're bound to like this one. Side note: My other complaint has to do with the review blurbs on the back of the book: they're all by the wives of New York Times bestselling authors. Why not reviews from NYT bestselling romance authors or even women who are bestselling authors? It seemed such an odd, out-of-place thing.

The FitzOsbornes at War (Montmaray Journals) by Michelle Cooper -- Young Adult Historical Fiction

In this long-awaited final (and huge) volume of Sophie's journals, Great Britain is at war, the FitzOsbournes have to adapt to changes and grow up. This story deals with the tragedies of war. It provides a very honest and accurate portrayal (sometimes too accurate when the dialogue comes right out of the mouths of real life people and history books) of WWII. It's horribly sad and tragic - one of the most depressing books I've read. However, as a story about the FitzOsbornes, it does an excellent job bringing the characters into adulthood. As with the previous two books, Sophie records everything in her journal: from rationing, air raids, her fears for her loved ones, war work and romance. She asks a lot of heavy questions and finally they make sense for a woman in her twenties to ask when I felt previously that a young teen wouldn't be thinking and asking about such heavy subjects. I liked her development in this book as she becomes an adult. She learns her strengths, her value and her heart. Her romance happens far too randomly. I didn't see it coming and when it happens, it's just sort of plunked in. The other characters who develop the most are Julia and Toby. Veronica, Simon and Henry don't really change much. Veronica remains my favorite character. Spoiler (highlight the next sentence): Another favorite character dies in the novel and I gasped when the news arrived. I was depressed for the rest of the novel. There's so much going on in this book that I think it should have been two books. The conclusion to the FitzOsbornes quest to reclaim Montmaray doesn't happen until the last few pages and it's over so suddenly. I felt it was anti-climatic. I loved the descriptions of the island nation in the first book and wanted more of Montmaray than of Great Britain. The epilogue tells what happened after the war. It's somewhat confusing and ambiguous in parts. A family tree shows all Fitzosbornes from 1850-1955 further adding to what happens next and explaining the part I found confusing. I still think that part is a bit bizarre. This book is definitely for young adults and not for teens. There are graphic depictions of war atrocities, war injuries, death and a love scene that was somewhat descriptive and not necessary to describe what was happening. The book also contains one night stands, pregnancy, and abortion. I was so thoroughly sad and depressed after reading this book that my next read will be something light and fluffy with no sort of plot. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What I Listened to Last Week

What I Listened to Last Week  . . .

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm; Read by Becca Battoe -- Middle Grades Historical Fiction

Eleven-year-old Turtle is wise beyond her years - she knows life is not like the pictures (she HATES Shirley Temple) or even like Little Orphan Annie in the Funny Pages. It's the Great Depression and times are tough everywhere, forcing Turtle's Mama to take a job as a housekeeper for a lady who hates kids. That's how Turtle finds herself living in Key West with her Mama's sister Aunt Minnie and Aunt Minnie's brood of wild boys. At first, Beans, Turtle's oldest cousin, resents having her around and Turtle isn't so thrilled to be there either. Smart and sassy, Turtle slowly adjusts to life in Key West where kids go without shoes and everyone has a funny nickname. She tries to break through the crust of a grouchy old lady and is befriended by a sponge fisherman who likes the Funny Pages and hangs out a local cafe where a "writer fella" named Ernest Hemingway also sips coffee. Turtle uses her smarts to get herself a job so she can earn money for the day when she and Mama will be reunited and open their own inn. Mama's new man Archie seems nice enough but Turtle doesn't expect him to stick around. Her dreams only include Turtle and Mama.Then she hits upon the ultimate scheme but she has to include the boys. When it seems like Turtle's dreams are about to come true, she begins to wonder if life really can have a Hollywood ending after all. Jennifer L. Holm has done it again and created another excellent book based on her family's history. The local color of the story is the very best part. Her descriptions of Key West in 1935 are incredibly vivid. The characters are off-beat and unique, especially Turtle. Turtle is a bit hard to like at first. She gets her name because she has a hard outer shell and that makes her a bit prickly and difficult, but when she began to be incorporated into daily life in Key West, I began to like her a lot better. She's tough - she has to be because she's had a rough life- but she has a soft underbelly like her namesake. She's also very down-to-earth in an unchildlike way because of the hard realities she has faced. Her cousins and their friends are a hoot and provide a lot of the comic relief in a novel that has potential to be dark. There are several plot twists in the novel that are surprising. My only dislike is the message of the story is delivered by Turtle's inner monologue and comes across as a bit heavy handed. However, it does fit the character so I'll let it slide. The reader, Becca Battoe, is amazing. She sounds like a sassy, smart-alecky young girl when she reads Turtle but she also does voices for each of the other characters. I could always tell who was speaking just by the voice. My favorites are Pork Chop and Buddy. Those are the two most distinctive. I've loved all of Jennifer L. Holm's books and this one is no exception. I think adults may like this book better than kids because of all the 1930s references and the cameo by Hemingway. This is a book that all ages 10+ can enjoy. It would be a good read-aloud for a classroom because it has a mix of male and female characters and teaches history in an entertaining way.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

Courtship and Curses by Marissa Doyle -- Young Adult Historical Fantasy/Regency Romance

Lady Sophie Rosier is not looking forward to her comeout this year 1815. She had always dreamed of being guided through her Season with her beloved Mama, but a recent illness took Sophie's Mama and little sister and left Sophie lame. Now Sophie is all alone. Papa has been too absorbed in his work at the War Office now that Napoleon is back on the throne and her Aunt Molly is only interested in plants. Aunt Isabel isn't much of a comfort either, being sour and strict. Sophie soon discovers that navigating the social waters of London are far more difficult when one is lame. Half the ton think Sophie is a hunchbacked half-wit and the other half pity her. The only one Sophie can really be herself with is Madame Amelie Carswell, the widow of Papa's old friend, recently arrived from India. Then Lord Woodbridge and his exuberant cousin Parthenope crash into Sophie's life (almost literally). Sophie adores the brash, crazy Parthenope right away but what about her handsome cousin? He seems to want to be Sophie's friend (or more...)  but could it be only that he pities her or wants to protect her? How can Sophie know if he's sincere? As if romantic problems weren't enough, Sophie soon realizes that a number of dangerous accidents were no accidents at all - they were targeted assassination attempts on members of the War Office. Sophie is certain because ... each accident bears traces of magic. Only Sophie can detect the magic and that's all she can do because her illness not only took her beloved relatives, it took her magic as well. With help from Parthenope (and just maybe Peregrine, Lord Woodbridge) Sophie sets out to get her magic back and find the traitor before it's too late. This book is a light, frothy fun Regency set romantic comedy with danger and magic thrown in. I liked Sophie and could empathize with her and some of her feelings. She's a tough girl and a bit difficult to get to know and really like because she's wary. She may not appeal to every reader. I enjoyed her growth and watching her become a woman. The lively Parthenope is great fun. She's outrageous and outspoken and has a pet parakeet that made me laugh out loud in a lot of places. She's wild and impetuous at times but a true and loyal friend. Readers of Bewitching Season will enjoy getting to know the twins' Mama when she was their age. James Leland also makes a cameo! My favorite character is Aunt Molly, the absentminded horticulturalist. She also provides a lot of comic relief and is a refreshing foil for Aunt Isabel, the typical Regency aunt. The plot is excellent. It wasn't too difficult to figure out who the villain was but the reader will have to pay attention to the clues because all of the story is from Sophie's point-of-view and none of it from the villain. That made it a bit more difficult to figure out. The choice of villain was rather cliched and I was sad to discover who it was. Even though I guessed the identity of the villain, I still couldn't put the novel down until I saw the plot through to the end. There's also a sweet romance plot woven throughout the story. Woodbridge is a wonderful hero. He's not too two-dimensional. He makes a lot of mistakes, he's proud and always arguing with his cousin. The descriptions of the setting and clothing worn are incredible! Marissa Doyle has done a lot of research and it shows. Even if I wasn't familiar with Regency London I would easily be able to picture everything, right down to Sophie's beautiful gowns. Those who loved Bewitching Season will love this one as well (or vice versa). Another fabulous novel from Marissa Doyle!

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould -- Young Adult Historical Fiction

It's 1585 and in Venice, daughters are valued by the worth they can bring in from their marriage. In order to catch a wealthy husband, a girl needs a good dowry. Laura della Scala's Papa can not provide for both his daughters so Laura is stuck in a dull and dreary convent while her older sister Beatrice prepares to marry the wealthy merchant Vincenzo. Laura adores her sister and hopes Beatrice will be happy in her upcoming marriage. When Laura is unexpectedly called home, she is surprised and hopeful but her dreams are dashed when she discovers her sister is dead. The lovely Beatrice drowned in a canal and now Laura must marry Vincenzo in her stead. Laura chafes against the restrictions placed on her by her greedy father. She'd much rather talk with the handsome artist than dance with smelly old men who leer at her. As her wedding day grows closer, Laura turns in desperation, to the only people who can help: a secret society of women called La Segreta. In exchange for their help, Laura must pay in a secret of her own. The only secret she knows could bring down the entire kingdom. Should she trust these women? What choice does she have in the matter? Soon Laura learns there are many secrets in Venice and no friends. La Segreta may not be what it seems and may have even played a role in her sister's death. Can she escape with her life? This book has lots of action packed adventure set against the beautiful backdrop of Venice. I couldn't put it down until I finished. There were a number of twists and turns in the plot, though I suspected some of them, some were so surprising and different that I never expected them at all. The ending is very abrupt and doesn't tie up loose ends. It leaves room for a sequel or a series of novels. The romance plot is a bit fairy tale-ish. I was hoping for a happy ending but it happened a little too quickly and neatly for me. It was maybe a bit unrealistic. The characters were not well drawn which leads to lack of motivation. I felt sorry for Laura and wanted her to have a happy ending but didn't feel she was very exciting or memorable. The lack of good characters and silly romance keep this book from being truly great.

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.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What I Read Last Weekend

What I Read Last Weekend . . .

Murder Most Austen by Tracy Kiey -- Austenesque Mystery

Dedicated Janeite Elizabeth Parker and her great-aunt Winnie are headed to England to the Jane Austen festival in Bath. Lizzie has never been to England and she's dying to walk in the footsteps of her favorite author. Her trip is marred by the man sitting in 4B - Professor Richard Baines, a pompous idiot who believes Jane Austen's novels contain codes that he has unlocked to reveal a world of sex, incest, abortion and murder. He also claims Jane Austen was an atheist and his biggest and newest discovery will shock the Jane Austen community. Ummm... Arriving in England, at first Elizabeth is in heaven! So many Janeites and so much to see and do, if only she can avoid the annoying Mr. Collins type man who keeps following her everywhere. She can even manage to ignore the hostile tensions between the various members of the Baines family. Then Professor Baines turns up dead at the masked ball and someone wearing an Elizabeth Bennet costume did the deed. The police suspect Aunt Winnie's friend Cora who did nothing to veil her hostility towards Richard. Aunt Winnie wants Elizabeth to clear Cora's name. Elizabeth has had experience investigating murders but she isn't sure she wants to do it again and her very own Mr. Darcy, Peter, forbids her to even try. Elizabeth can't help noticing things though and she notices a lot of attention on the Professor's paper. Could someone have killed him to prevent the publication of his shocking theories? Elizabeth stumbles across the clues that will lead to the answer.

This book is for die-hard Janeites and Anglophiles. If you've read every book multiple times, seen every movie/TV adaptation, read updates of Jane Austen novels (do you know what "smug marrieds" are?) and spend every waking moment quoting Jane Austen, her novels or speaking like her (three days hence) this book is for you. This book is also for you if you are a dedicated Anglophile who has seen every BBC/PBS Masterpiece show. I'm embarrassed to say I fit into most of the above categories. However, I have been to and lived in England so I found Elizabeth's exuberant naivety a bit irritating. England is not the world of the BBC or Jane Austen's novels. It's not like stepping into the pages of the novel or the scenes of the movie. There are parts of that world still there but it's so much more! I can sympathize with Elizabeth's excitement to walk in the footsteps of her favorite author, though. I also found her constant quoting of Jane Austen and use of period language really annoying. No one talks like that. Not even I talk like that, at least not in public! I also found her deductive reasoning skills were highly unrealistic at times and at other times, she missed the totally obvious. I also thought she was too harsh on her friend at the end. I had guessed what the friend was about and saw the parallels between her and Jane Austen characters. I don't approve of what that character did but I'd like to think I wouldn't be so hard on them.  I haven't read the previous novels but based on this book alone, I find the heroine annoying and hard to like. I loved Aunt Winnie. She made me laugh out loud in many places. Some of the other characters are really two-dimensional and some bear a strong resemblance to characters in Jane Austen's novels. It's funny to see them running around modern Bath. The plot kept me hooked and I stayed up way too late trying to figure out whodunnit. I suppose someone very clear headed and clever could have figured it out but there were clues withheld from Elizabeth/the reader that made the mystery impossible for me to figure out. I actually found the big reveal a bit lame. The motive didn't seem plausible and it didn't seem to go along with the rest of the plot. Overall though, I enjoyed this story. You have to love a book that begins with "If I had known someone was going to kill the man sitting in 4B three days hence I probably wouldn't have fantasized about doing the deed myself." If you're a Janeite looking for some fun, frivolous reading, then this book is for you.