Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mr Darcy's Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth

I was really looking forward to reading this variation as the premise of a more confident Georgiana who has noticed the interest her usually reserved brother is showing this particular woman Miss Bennet and taking it upon herself to visit her sounded interesting. It was very high on my to-read list but then the lovely Jeanna Ellsworth contacted me asking if I would review her story on my blog for her and I was only to happy to be provided with such an opportunity to read a book I have been wanting to read since I heard of it. And I was not disappointed!  (I was provided with a review copy in ebook form however this is my honest and unbiased opinion.)

"Jane Austen’s classic Regency story comes alive again in a tale of pride, prejudice, and a promise. Georgiana Darcy makes her way to Netherfield Park to meet the woman her brother so admires. While at first Georgiana’s presence smooths the course of true love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the ghosts of her past appear to wreak havoc on all of them. Unhappily, Elizabeth finds herself placed in the care of the Darcy family at Pemberley. Assuming he knows the cause of Elizabeth’s distress, Mr. Darcy makes a promise on his gentleman’s honor. The promise, although made with good intentions, becomes nearly impossible to keep for Mr. Darcy, and somewhat vexing for Elizabeth. Some promises are made to be broken but will the ever-trustworthy gentleman let go enough to secure Elizabeth’s heart?"

As I said, I enjoyed this more confident side to Georgiana. She was very sweet and I loved her sisterly relationship which grows between her and Elizabeth.  Another great character which was developed in this story was Col Fitzwilliam. He was such fun, constantly telling (pretty bad!) jokes and generally causing amusement wherever he goes! He is one of my favourite characters in the original Pride and Prejudice and I always love to see his character developed further in these variations.

There are a few on going themes throughout this story, one of which was symbolism.  There were many times throughout where feelings and emotions or meanings behind actions were disguised very cleverly with the use of symbolism and riddles. The simple act of riding a horse, playing a card game, swinging on a swing or feeding some chickens all suddenly have a double meaning. (Some of these riddles are easy to puzzle out while others are not, but the explanation of the more significant ones are explained beautifully.)

Another theme was (surprise surprise!) promises, and how some promises are made to be broken. Mr Darcy is very much the gentleman to Elizabeth throughout the story and all these promises which he makes become an important part to their relationship (even if some promises are broken very quickly and others kept for far too long!) 

A lovely new addition to the story was Lizzy's maid Serafina. She became almost like a replacement for her sister Jane who she had to leave behind at Longbourn, who helped her deal with her sudden marriage and comfort her in times of distress (as well as give her some very important relationship advice which I myself might remember for future reference!)

I realise I haven't as yet talked about the main characters of the story, so let me rectify that by beginning with Darcy.  I greatly enjoyed this version of Darcy; his sweet and caring side of his nature is shown through his treatment of Elizabeth and also through his treatment of Georgiana, his servants and his tenants - it was nice for this to be expanded on as we are given glimpses of such behaviour in the original story. Another aspect I enjoyed was Darcy's perseverance in trying to win Lizzy heart. He does everything to help her feel comfortable in her new situation and is very patient with the hope that Lizzy's opinion will change. This perseverance and patience result in some very funny and very touching scenes.

Elizabeth goes on an interesting journey through this story and, staying true to the Elizabeth spirit, tries to make the best of a seemingly bad situation. Her acceptance of the loveless marriage she is expecting and her resolve to make the best of it (even if this resolve seems hard to keep at times) was sweet and yet sad to read as we all know of Lizzy's wish to marry for love and love only! (You begin to realise pretty quickly that some of the main problems between the couple would be solved sooner had they been more open with each other, but then again, given their peculiar situation such a conversation would have been difficult to have, not to mention the fact that if such a conversation had taken place then there would be no story!) Later on Darcy too experiences a similar problem to Lizzy of needing to make the most of a bad situation, however I will not give any of the particulars as I do not want to spoil it.  Both of their reactions and responses to their problems were touching and show a true strength of character (which I personally think fits with what we would expect from Darcy and Elizabeth), as well as shows a clear desire from each of them to make their relationship work.

Darcy and Elizabeth have a difficult journey through the story - what else would you expect from a practically forced marriage - but watching the relationship between them grow and change was wonderful.  Seeing them face many problems together but also begin to get to know and love the other more and slowly become a true married couple made for some great reading! I was pleased to have Darcy and Lizzy and their relationship as the main focus of the story, meaning that most of the scenes were between them. There are some conversations and escapades which will have you laughing while others are wonderfully romantic. Again I will not give away too much but there are fun scenes including a rather amusing shopping trip and a muddy episode with some chickens! Dangerous moments due to a raging fire and the actions of a certain (so called) 'gentleman'. And romantic scenes of near kisses (and actual kisses!), night-time adventures in a barn, the accidental sharing of a bed and dreams being made a reality.

Of course where would a Pride and Prejudice variation be without the infamous Mr Wickham! He plays a very important role in this tale and causes more than his fair share of incidents - nothing new there then!  (As always, good will triumph over evil and so Wickham gets what he deserves!)

I thought my happiness gage was going to over flow as I was reading the final few chapters as the superb writing of this story made me feel so drawn into and a part of Darcy and Lizzy's journey that seeing everything finally work out for them I couldn't help but feel so very happy for them (more happy then perhaps I should have been for a pair of fictional characters in a fictional story!)

As I always love to have at the end, there was an epilogue giving brief explanations of what happens to the characters in the story as well as a glimpse into the 'happily ever after' of our beloved hero and heroine.

I really did love this variation and I was thrilled to hear that she has 2 other completed stories and is in the process of completing another! I look forward to being able to read them.

Read chapter one of Mr Darcy's Promise
here as well as find out about her other stories due to be published soon here.

As I have said in some of my other reviews, a sign that I loved the book is if I read it on my kindle first but then afterwards buy the paperback for my shelf... it should be arriving tomorrow and it will have pride of place on my shelf! This is a superbly written, highly romantic, funny and clever exploration of an alternative path for the classic story of Pride and Prejudice which is so loved all around the world.

Your affectionate friend,
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mr Darcy's Obsession by Abigail Reynolds

"The more he tries to stay away from her, the more his obsession grows...
What if...Elizabeth Bennet was more unsuitable for Mr Darcy than ever...
Mr Darcy is determined to find a more suitable bride. But then he learns that Elizabeth is living in London in reduced circumstances, after her father's death robs her of her family home...
What if... Mr Darcy can't Help himself from see king her out...
He just wants to make sure she's alright. But once he's seen her, he feels compelled to talk to her, and from there he's unable to fight the overwhelming desire to be near her, or the ever-growing mutual attraction that is between them...
What if... Mr Darcy's intentions were shockingly dishonourable..."

This was one of the more serious and at times distressing Pride and Prejudice variations I have read. This is due to the story line and the dramatically reduced circumstances the Bennet's find themselves in after the death of their father. I really enjoyed this story.

The social divide between Darcy and Lizzy now seems so unsurpassable and yet Darcy still cannot imagine his life without Lizzy. I enjoyed seeing this side to Darcy. He was very sweet and caring towards Lizzy and all her family and in the second half the book he was truly the knight in shinning armour! Seeing the struggles the couple face and the misunderstandings and problems they must overcome before they can be together is heart-wrenching. There are times when it seems it really will be impossible to end with the happy ending we all know, expect and love (it does of course, don't fret!)

Bingley had an interesting role and turn of character in this story. The situation and emotional state he ends up in because of Jane's marriage to another is very sad to see in the normally happy, cheerful and upbeat Mr Bingley. His journey through the story is an interesting one.  Georgiana too faces many problems to overcome after the incident with Wickham (to which there is an extra aspect in this tale) before she can mature into the young woman she truly is.

There is a major theme through this book linked to what the supposed 'gentleman' of society and the 'ton' really get up to. I found all the talk of mistresses through this book and incidents revolving around the issue quite distressing (the main distress coming from Colonel Fitzwilliam's horrid father and brother) although it was an interesting and brave topic to expand on. I understand, however, how very relevant and true the issue of mistresses and maltreatment of servants is and it is clear the authoress has put a considerable amount of time into researching it properly for historical accuracy, to which she is to be commended.

Although as I said at times I found the book distressing this is not a bad thing. I believe it actually made the book more compelling as I wanted to keep reading to see what was going to happen and how it would resolve all the issues. I am very pleased to say that all the problems and difficulties faced for so many of the characters all sort themselves out eventually, resulting in some very happy (and some very surprising (VERY surprising!)) endings. And also, although I talk of a more serious atmosphere to this variation, there are still many, many moments throughout which had me laughing, a lot!

If you are interesting in a variation which strays dramatically from the original plot as well as a wonderful romantic tension between Darcy and Lizzy, some intruding new characters and a more serious spin on the classic then this is the book to read. 

Your affectionate friend,
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another Interview with.... Me!

I am a rather popular interviewee at the moment having been asked to partake in another interview only a few weeks after my first interview!

Today the interview I am posting is from the lovely Alice's blog, Reading With Alice.
She is a very good friend of mine and I was only to happy to agree to an interview with her!  I would just like to say thank you very much to Alice for asking me - it was a very fun interview from a very fun person! (She is also very skilled at adding very appropriate photos to the interview!)

Alice knows me very well and so, naturally, there are quite a few questions revolving around Jane Austen - what a surprise!  There was understandably an overlap of questions between the two interviews and so a few answers are the same or similar - I can't come up with a different answer to the same question! - but there are also some delightful different questions which I enjoyed answering.


Interview: Fellow blogger, Sophie!

I am SO happy to introduce my amazing friend and fellow blogger- Sophie! I have asked my friend to my blog for a friendly chat and a little blogger to blogger talk.

Sophie, it's SO good to have you!!!!! :D
It is wonderful to be participating in this interview! Thank you for asking me! :D Be warned that once I begin to answer my answers are bound to keep going and going.... and going (and going!) I am rather a rambler and am bound to go off topic at least twice! 
That's perfectly fine, I'm the same way! >:) 

 Tell us a little about yourself, your lovely blog (and the purpose of it): 
Well hello! Sophie here, from good old England. I have one sister and I suppose we are a little like the Dashwood sisters – and I'm Marianne, the hopeless romantic... ;) I am an avid Janeite (as this interview will prove if you are in any doubt (or just take one look at my blog!) Give me anything and everything to do with Jane Austen! I am in my final year at school. It was school which threw me head-long into Jane Austen so although me and school don’t and have never got on, I must be grateful for this one thing! 

The purpose of my blog... well, I do know that yes there are many Jane Austen blogs out there, but why not have another one? But, going back a little further, when I began my correspondence with you (bless the day <3 -haha you're so sweet. ;)) as well as with a few other international friends who all shared a love of Jane Austen, I was told that I had a lot to say about Jane Austen and then the idea of a blog was suggested. To begin with I was very reluctant about the idea; ‘Me? Do I really have enough to say to form a blog? How do I even begin such a thing?’ But, with a lot of encouragement from my friends, you and another fellow blogger in particular, I finally thought I would give it a go. And here we are – one rather successful blog (even if I do say so myself :P)!

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Well, your blog is definitely a success, and absolutely delightful- I love how it's presented in such a friendly manner. :) Keep up the good work, love!

What are some things you would love to accomplish through your love and knowledge of Jane Austen and her era?
An interesting question... What do I want to accomplish? Well, I would like to think that my love of Jane Austen has already helped me to gain a much better knowledge of the regency era and a broader historical knowledge (as since Jane Austen I have read a wide range of historical romance) I would like my love of Jane Austen to hopefully, someday, be something I have to do... I am not quite sure how I will land in a job based on Jane Austen but I can hope! I would actually hope to one day write a book; whether it be a non-fiction book or a fictional story I am not sure.                      

I'm sure you could do either (writing non-fiction vs. fiction). Having read so much regency fiction, you would certainly know how to present a story, and having from those stories gained a wide range of knowledge concerning the era, you could easily pull all that knowledge together to write something historical yet fun! :D

When did you become an avid Janeite?
A few years ago when I was 9 (ok, so maybe it was more than a few years, nearly 9, in fact - wow... anyway!) I saw the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen but I was too young to really understand the language so it didn’t exactly make an impression on me... I watched that film quite a few more times and as I grew up I began to love it – as I could understand it! But I still wasn’t hooked on Austen (I think I was more just hooked on Mr. Darcy!) However, in 2011-2012 I was going to study the novel Pride and Prejudice for my English lessons at school, so the summer of 2011 I had to read it. Ok, so up to this point I really wasn’t a reader and had never read another ‘proper’ book before! (I know I know it’s appalling!) However, even though I wasn’t a reader, given that I enjoyed the film I was rather looking forward to reading it! Over the summer when I went on holiday I read it in a week (which is pretty quick for a new reader!) I could not put it down once I had started!  My mother found it strange to see me reading as until then I had been like Emma Woodhouse in regards to books and reading... I re-read it straight away afterwards and I really enjoyed studying it at school.  


I was astounded by the humour and sarcasm; I knew Jane Austen was funny because of  the films I had seen but you really don’t get to appreciate her wit first hand unless you read the books; something seems to get lost in translation when it is gets made into a film, the true Austen humour must be experienced straight from the authoress herself. It then struck me that the film had to leave out and condense a number of scenes, and I loved reading all these scenes in full or discovering new scenes which I didn't know existed! It also surprised me how accurate the 1995 mini-series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth really is (with the exception of adding a few scenes where Colin Firth is wearing minimal (or wet) clothing, but who’s complaining?) and I immediately wanted to re-watch the mini-series again (which I did.)  

After reading Pride and Prejudice I immediately wanted to seek out and read her other novels! So, I read Sense and Sensibility, then Emma, followed by Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and finally Mansfield Park. I loved them all and I was completely addicted, fascinated and captivated by Jane Austen and the regency world; I wanted to learn more and more about her and her works as well as find other authors writing similar regency romances for me to read!  I also wanted to discuss the books with other people however no-one else in my class at school had any interest in this subject (very few even read Pride and Prejudice for the English classes so I had no one at school to discuss it with!)  I eventually found Goodreads, a wonderful website (which I describe as a literary version of Facebook) and I am part of many groups (two Jane Austen ones, one of which I now run.) I also wanted to get my hands on as many of the film and TV adaptations as possible (and a few months ago I finally completed my collection – that was a very proud moment!)  


I love Goodreads! ^_^ I am so glad you fell in love with all the Jane Austen books and films - we've had so many great conversations about them! :)

What about Jane Austen's works drew you in? :)
I have already mentioned the humour, wit and sarcasm. I also love the wonderful and realistic characters but as well as that I really enjoy the complex story lines of Austen’s novels. When I first learned the story of Pride and Prejudice I was taken in by Wickham and found Darcy rather proud and disagreeable and I never guessed the real relationship between those two! Emma as well – I was always wary of Frank Churchill but never did I imagine him to have been secretly engaged to Jane for the entire novel! Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility as well, and so the list goes on and on... Her stories are so well written that it is hard to make all the connections between characters and I much prefer stories when you don’t know what is going to happen! I also enjoy the light-hearted nature of Austen’s stories; a happy ending is guaranteed and this leaves you feeling much happier than those stories which have a very unsatisfactory ending!  The romance in her stories is also so pure and innocent, not like the gothic romances that were becoming increasingly popular thanks to the novels of the Bronte sisters. I much prefer the clever conversations and cheerful atmosphere portrayed in Austen stories to hearing constantly about the pain and torment the heroines are experiencing which is being, coincidently and conveniently, reflected by the weather all the time! (Yes I am referring to the Bronte sisters and yes I am not a Bronte fan!) 

I agree! I love the humor, wit, sarcasm, characters, plot, everything! ^_^ (and I'm not a Bronte fan either! ;))

What is your favorite Jane Austen novel, and why?
I think you may have already guessed this by now... but my favourite is *drum roll* Pride and Prejudice! As I said, it will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first Austen (and my first... book...) but, aside from it being my first, Pride and Prejudice is just, to me, perfect in every way. I won’t discuss my every reason but my main two reasons I think would be... 
One, it has an ideal balance of characters to love and characters to hate as well as having very relatable characters; everyone knows a flirt like Lydia, a chatterbox like Mrs Bennet, a buffoon like Mr Collins or an overbearing interferer like Lady Catherine! And then there is the hero and heroine; Darcy and Lizzy are two of the most famous character in all literature! Their classic hate growing to love relationship is a great story to read and I think most people come away from reading Pride and Prejudice with a strong literary crush on Darcy – I certainly did! Many of my favourite conversations were between them. And two, Pride and Prejudice contains some of my favourite (and I personally think her best) humorous comments, witty conversations and sarcastic remarks. Mr Bennet made me smile and there are many moments when I laugh out loud at what Austen writes (of which, again, I won’t (and no doubt have no need to) list now!) The entire feel and combination of everything makes Pride and Prejudice, to me, so enjoyable to read (as well as to watch) and in a word, perfection :)  

(Hehe! I am having way too much fun with all these Jane Austen film pictures! >:))

What is your favourite film version of this novel? How can you make me answer that question, THE question? Actually, if you had asked me that question a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to answer and I would have said I love the 2005 film and the 1995 mini-series equally. However, now I do think that my favourite is the mini-series (how can you not love Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy?). I do and always will love the 2005 film as it was my way into Austen (and I also really love Matthew Macfadyen’s take on Darcy) but the series is so accurate, the costumes are brilliant, the locations are gorgeous and the actors are brilliantly cast! I love seeing so much of the books being acted out – it really misses out nothing! It is a long series but when I have a spare day (or just when I want to!) I will watch it in one go, especially if I have had a hard and rubbish week; it really cheers me up! 

It really is such a great series! =)

Who is your favourite Jane Austen Heroine, and which do you most relate to?
Ok, I am really starting to sound completely bias towards Pride and Prejudice but I would be lying if I didn’t say this (I mean, have you seen my blog?!)) Elizabeth Bennet. Do I really need to explain why? She is such a wonderful character; she is witty and fun, likes to defy society and its rules and she is a great tease! Like the best characters, she is not, by any means, perfect; she may think she is a good judge of character but she can be too quick to judge (as Darcy finds out!) and she is also proud and can become easily prejudiced. I love her connection with her sister Jane as well as with her father, and not to mention how her relationship with Darcy alters. Her character development through the story is a great development to read about as, to me, it seems very realistic and entirely plausible given what she experiences and has to learn through the story.

I am sure you have done the ‘Which Jane Austen heroine am I?’ quiz, (and probably the one saying who your hero is as well!) I have, and, happily, I got (I’ll give you three guesses)... Elizabeth Bennet. I have done a lot of those quizzes and every time I get the same answer (and I always get the same hero too, and yes it is Darcy, and no I don’t rig my answers to get the answer I want(well, not much anyway!))

I am like Lizzy in many respects – I do have a rather teasing nature (but nothing like her sharp wit) and I also have her wish to go against the grain of society and not to follow the rules and conventions you are expected to follow. As well as Lizzy, I am also very much like Marianne Dashwood; I am, just like Marianne, a complete and utter hopeless romantic and my romantic sensibilities can get the better of me... If I was to be swept off my feet after spraining my ankle (which I do do frequently, I am so accident prone...) by a handsome man on a white horse I would fall for this man without really finding out much about him first (and believe me, I have gone for many long walks in the rain in the hope of being rescued... as yet I have had no luck, but I will keep trying! Someday...-you are too funny! x)) The final strong characteristic I share with a character would be the naivety of Catherine Morland; I am not so naive as to not realise I am naive, but I am still quite inexperienced and clueless about some things and also I am very much like Catherine in being a very easy target for teasing! I can be wound up, mocked and laughed at far too easily (which I discovered to my great cost and great amusement to my friends...) Of course, I much prefer to think of myself as a Lizzy rather than a Marianne or Catherine! 

I think everyone has a bit of each Jane Austen heroine in them. ;)

Which is your favourite Jane Austen Hero?
It will come as a real shock when I tell you it is Mr Darcy I’m sure ;) Again, do I really need to explain why? Imagine becoming Mrs Darcy! To live at Pemberley, located in the gorgeous and beautiful Peak District and be loved by the wonderful (handsome) Darcy!  The love which you can see Darcy has for Elizabeth would be something which I would love to experience (and which I do hope I will experience from my own husband, whoever he may be, not just from my literary husband!) Darcy is not perfect and he changes through the story, for the girl he loves. He is a complete and utter gentleman (with a few exceptions at the beginning of the novel!), so kind and caring towards his family, tenants and servants; how anyone could not fall in love with Mr Darcy is beyond me!

I know you read/review a lot of Jane Austen fan fiction/variations; which author/story would you say stays the most loyal and accurate to the original novels?
I do read a lot of variations, you are correct.  I never thought I would enjoy them actually, but then (I can’t remember why) I read ‘Falling for Mr Darcy’ by KaraLynne Mackrory (I think I just liked the sound of it) and I really, really enjoyed it and since then I cannot get my hands on enough variations! I much prefer variations and ‘what if’ stories to continuations of the stories; seeing different ways for the hero and heroine to come together interests me far more than reading about the couple once they are married – I know they will live happily ever after! ;)  I also have discovered that I do in fact enjoy variations which stray really far from the original plotline! I find the stories which are so out-there actually so bizarre that they are really good - you can’t come to Jane Austen adaptations with a serious literary hat on! 

What I do not like is when authors transport the original characters and stories into the 21st century; in my opinion, it just doesn’t work. I read an interesting one called ‘The Heart does Whisper’ by Cynthia Hensley which was set in the 1980’s but it was not directly about Lizzy and Darcy, it was based on their descendants – it was really good and worth a read! Anyway! You have asked me about the author who stays closest to the plotlines, not strayed far from them! Of the stories I have read I think the one staying closest to the plotline is ‘Falling for Mr Darcy’ as well as her second novel ‘Bluebells in the Mourning’. Then again, I say stay closest to the novel... they don’t really! I don’t think any variations can stay that close to the original as that would just be... re-writing the original?  Thinking about it however I have read The Diary Series by Amanda Grange which recounts the original tales but from the hero’s point of view, so I suppose really that should be my answer. (These are also really good!)    

I really can't wait to read these!!! =D

Which has been your favourite variation? I have enjoyed them all! I do not think I can narrow it down to one so two will have to suffice; ‘Bluebells in the Mourning’ by KaraLynne Mackrory and ‘Pirates and Prejudice’ (yes pirates!) by Kara Louise.

I really enjoyed both by KaraLynne Mackrory’s variations, in particular ‘Bluebells in the Morning’.  Here is the blurb so you know what I am talking about...

“Is it true that nothing can be lost that love cannot find? Jane Austen's beloved "Pride and Prejudice" is readapted in this Regency tale of love in the face of tragedy. Mr. Darcy is thwarted in his attempt to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford when he encounters her minutes after she receives the sad news from Longbourn of her sister's death. His gallantry and compassion as he escorts her back to Hertfordshire begins to unravel the many threads of her discontent with him. While her family heals from their loss, Darcy must search London for answers --- answers that might bring justice but also might just mark the end of his own hopes with Elizabeth.”
The storyline of this one intrigued me; it is common for variations which include a death for the death to be of Mr Bennet so I was interested in having the death of one of her sisters (Lydia). Lydia was out for a walk when she slips and hits her head, which eventually causes a fever and her demise. When we learn that a certain gentleman was also present on the walk (I will give you three guesses!) it sets up the basis for a bit of a mystery, which Darcy vows to Mr Bennet he will get to the bottom of. I thought it was a really good ‘what if’ variation. I won’t go into full details right now but you can find my full review on my blog!

The other one I mentioned was ‘Pirates and Prejudice’ by Kara Louise.  I said in the previous question that the storylines which stray really far from the original I actually rather like and this is an example of that...

“After Elizabeth Bennet refuses Mr. Darcy's offer of marriage, it takes a heavy toll on him. He withdraws to London and disappears near the docks, away from family, friends, and acquaintances. When he is mistaken for an escaped pirate, he is thrust into an adventure he would never have imagined. Will this be what he needs to forget the one woman he had come to love? 

When her aunt and uncle have to cancel their plans to tour the Lake District, Elizabeth Bennet has the opportunity to sail to the Isles of Scilly with her father. After a pleasant visit, the voyage home brings storms, a shipwreck, and pirates! When she is rescued by gallant Captain Smith, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. What will she do when she discovers he is the very man whose offer of marriage she refused just a few months earlier?” 
When I first read the blurb for this story I thought it sounded very... improbable. Well, let’s face it, it is!  The idea of Darcy being brought so low by Lizzy’s rejection and abandoning all care for his personal appearance and to sprawl around London, rather drunk, and then to be mistaken for a pirate all seemed a little... far-fetched! However, once I got past that and thought ‘why not’ (as I said you cannot come to these stories with serious hat on!), I really rather enjoyed this story, much more than I was expecting to.  Having Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley mistaken as the infamous pirate Lockerley, with his long beard and curly hair, and consequently thrown into jail was funny in itself, but then to have Darcy agree to impersonate this pirate in the hopes to catch the real Lockerley was even funnier! Imagining Mr Darcy agreeing to something like that is difficult, I grant you (especially given that disguise of every sort is his abhorrence), but it soon seemed like a perfectly normal adventure for Darcy to get involved with! It was a lot of fun, once he had agreed to this impersonation, to see Darcy trying to ‘forget’ how to be a gentleman (and his “gentleman-like manner”!), walk with a much less graceful posture and learn to talk like a commoner! Again, the full review can be found on my blog. I highly recommend both of these stories! 

I really can't wait to read this one! >:) I love pirate stories (when they are good. ;))

What do you consider necessary to make the perfect novel? Everything which Pride and Prejudice has in it? Not a valid answer? Ok ok... A perfect novel, well my perfect novel needs to have... Humour, wit, funny conversations and sarcastic comments – a book which doesn’t make you laugh at least once is not a good book! I dearly love to laugh! (:D)  A good story also needs to have brilliant characters.  The hero and heroine of the story must be strong and interesting characters who are also very likeable. 
 Other secondary characters must be good additions as opposed to unnecessary extras that just confuse the story! I also have to have some character who you can hate, and love to hate them! What is a story without a baddie? I also like to have stories which have characters that I can relate to, or that feel very realistic (they need flaws, no-one is perfect!) Another vital aspect would be a good story line! What else is going to hold your attention and make you want to finish reading the story? In this storyline I also like to have a bit mystery to keep things interesting and if I cannot guess how this mystery is going to be solved, even better! What have I left out...? Oh yes! Of course! A perfect novel, for me, must have ROMANCE! (I bet you’d never have guessed that ;)) A story doesn’t need to be focused on the romance (and by romance I mean clean romance) (although I do enjoy stories where that is the case, as long as there are other things going on and not just the romantic plot!)

I totally agree! Sounds like an incredible novel! ;)

What are a few of your favorite things about England?  Another interesting question which is hard to put into words... Well, I love the landscape you can find in England – I am perfectly happy to holiday in England rather than go elsewhere to a foreign (and probably hotter!) country! I love the Lake District and Peak District (yes, Mr Darcy’s Derbyshire...) and also the Yorkshire Dales – the unending hills and dales are beautiful to me. I also love England’s history and how much we have of it! Part of this history is, unsurprisingly, England being the home of Jane Austen and being able to visit her house and other similar places is great for a Jane fan!  What I find quite funny is the amount of interest England holds for so many across the world! This is partly down to the history which I mentioned but mainly, I think, down to our accent – what is it with the English accent!? You enjoyed hearing my voice for the first time didn’t you, thinking I sounded like I belonged from a period drama? (a huge compliment, by the way!)   


YES, I admit, one of my favorite things about England is definitely y'alls accents. ^_^

(These are pictures from Sophies' recent holiday visit to the Yorkshire Dales. :))

What are your favourite pastimes? 
My hobbies and pastimes... Well, many of the hobbies are very ‘Jane Austen heroiney’ activities. But I didn’t start all these after becoming obsessed with Jane Austen, honestly! My favourite hobby I think would be playing the piano. It is my way of relaxing after coming home after a stressful, busy day at school! I love to play the music of composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Phamie Gow and Helen Jane Long but I also enjoy playing (since watching more and more Austen films) the soundtracks from the films. My favourite music to play is from the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film (‘Dawn’ and ‘The Secret Life of Daydreams’ in particular) but the theme to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice and some songs from Sense and Sensibility and Emma are also a lot of fun!  I also enjoy cross stitch (ok, so I am now cross stitching Jane Austen quotes but I started cross stitch before my addiction took hold, I did, I did!) and I used to do knitting as well, but I prefer cross stitch these days. I take pleasure in baking as well – that is baking sweet things, not cooking savoury things! Obviously since beginning my blog about a year and a half ago I have been blogging, and I try my hand out at drawing but... well let’s just say the National Art Gallery won’t be knocking on my door any time soon! Oh, well I suppose I should also say reading but I don’t think that should be classed as a hobby – I think it should be a compulsory daily activity!   

You are an incredible pianist! :D I love baking and reading too...

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Well I naturally cannot include America to meet you because it is not a case of ‘if you could’ as I WILL meet you someday! So, I think I would like to visit Canada. I am not entirely sure why but I have always been interested in Canada and its connections. I also hear it is a beautiful country. I also would like to visit Ireland (I know, it is only next door to where I already live!) to experience the culture and the people, the good old Irish charm. A few of my favourite books I have read have been set partly in Ireland as well as a few of my favourite films, such as Leap Year, which I think has increased my desire to visit Ireland.

Aw! Haha I can't wait to meet you!!! <3 I have some friends in Canada- so say hello when you go! ;) It's always been my dream to visit England, Ireland, and Scotland; I'll take you with me. ;)

Thank you SO much, Sophie, for stopping by! It was delightful getting to chat. Happy blogging! :)
No thank you for having me! This was such a wonderful interview and so much fun! :D I hope to have an interview with you on my blog in the near future! :)
Ooh, I can't wait! ;)

Once again, please go over and have a look at Alice's lovely blog Reading With Alice!

Your affectionate friend,
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Friday, October 18, 2013

An Arranged Marriage by Jan Hahn

"Can a marriage of convenience ever lead to true love? Immediately after Elizabeth Bennet refuses Mr. Darcy's proposal at Hunsford, her father dies, leaving Longbourn entailed away and little fortune to sustain his widow and daughters. Six months later, the Bennet family receives a visitor with a most unusual offer that promises to save the family from financial and social ruin. Elizabeth's sense of duty forces her to enter into an arranged marriage with a man she does not even like. Told from Elizabeth's point of view, An Arranged Marriage is a compelling twist on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Can Elizabeth overcome her feelings of anger, resentment, and suspicion toward her new husband and - the most bewildering sensation of all - a growing attraction for the last man in the world she ever wished to marry?"

This really was a compelling read.  I couldn't put it down. It is told completely from Lizzy's point of view and this made it seem almost like a diary, it was brilliant. I got completely wrapped up in the story as I was reading it and I felt as though I was Lizzy!

Mr Darcy is adorable. I pitied him to begin with as Lizzy is rather rude to him, but then again, Lizzy is bound to fight him - she has been forced into a marriage with a man she doesn’t like, so she is always thinking the worst of him! (There were times when I could have slapped her!)

It is also clear that Lizzy is fighting her growing feelings for Mr Darcy and there are many sweet moments between them - it is clear they are made for each other, even if Lizzy doesn't want to acknowledge it! 

Lizzy had a great relationship with Georgiana and I enjoyed seeing her influence rub off on Georgiana.  Georgiana also had a wonderful and fun relationship with Col. Fitzwilliam – Col. Fitzwilliam is such a great character to explore further in these variations!

As things begin to work out between Darcy and Lizzy and their relationship grows it is heart warming to read, seeing the trust grow and all the misunderstandings and misconceptions sorted out.  Together they are such an amazing married couple and the relationship is obviously going to work and once they have put the misunderstandings behind them, the conversations they then have are the sweetest! Many familiar conversations from the original pop up here and there, often in different situations and spoken by different people, which I always enjoy reading.

I haven't read a book this quickly in a while, which must be a good thing! This truly was a romantic, gripping, at times heart-rending and at other times heart-warming tale of misunderstandings and misconceptions and the journey of hate turned to love and the importance of trust in a marriage of convenience to the last man in the world you ever wished to marry!
This is definitely one of my new favourite Pride and Prejudice variations - and I have now read quite a few!
Your affectionate friend,
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mr Darcy Came to Dinner by Jack Caldwell

This is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time! If you want a book which will make you laugh, read this!

"In this humorous re-imagining of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet's pet cat causes an unfortunate accident to befall the haughty Mr. Darcy, forcing the injured gentleman to reluctantly take up residence at Longbourn-- more specifically, in the parlor of Longbourn!

In pain, forbidden to leave by his doctors, Mr. Darcy cannot escape the ridiculous antics of the Bennet clan.

And when Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh arrive to visit the invalid, chaos, confusion, and hilarity ensue!

Inspired by the classics of comedy, author Jack Caldwell transforms Austen's beloved novel into a tour de force of farce. The Regency will never be the same!"

Warning: This book is not to be taken seriously, hence this is a Pride and Prejudice farce, not a variation.

To start off, Mr Darcy on laudanum is the funniest thing: his treatment of Mr Collins and also Lady Catherine de Bourgh who turns up is wonderful.
You know in situations with Mr Collins and Lady Catherine there are times when you know exactly what characters are thinking but they just can't say it, however much you want them to? Well, Darcy on laudanum does say the things he is thinking! (As well as sings a rather interesting song for the ladies of Longbourn...)

It was extremely clever with conversations we know from the original slotted in here and there, often spoken by different people to different people and about a different subject!

Mr Darcy is so wonderful in this version. He is the knight in shinning armour (even though he did fall off his horse) and eventually, one by one, he makes all the Bennet ladies fall under his spell. Seeing Mr Darcy's relationships with all the different members of the household change was really interesting - Mr Bennet in particular - it was a great way for Lizzy and the reader to be shown Darcy's true character, through his actions towards others.

Ok so I would have liked more time between Darcy and Lizzy, but that isn't really the focus of this story as it is through his actions with the rest of her household that Lizzy too falls under his spell (but there are some sweet moments (and funny moments!) between them.)

The relationships between the Bennet sisters themselves and how they change through the story was also nice to see. I really enjoyed the further exploration of the characters of Mary, Kitty and Lydia, Mary and Kitty in particular who are very untouched in the original.

The ending few chapters were a lot of fun! They show what happens to all the characters in the future (which I always like to read about) - a few characters from her other novels make some very interesting appearances! I particularly liked Col. Fitzwilliam's and Charlotte Lucas' fate! (But I won't give it away!)

As humour is the main objective of this Pride and Prejudice farce, a final epilogue with Mr Wickham and Mr Collins really finishes the book with a bang - it was brilliantly funny!

This is a wonderfully clever, witty and laugh-out-loud book! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good laugh - I was laughing from start to finish!

Your affectionate friend,
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