Monday, February 24, 2014

Dear Mr Darcy by Amanda Grange

What can I say? This book was brilliant. This was a very interesting take on the classic novel, playing on the idea of Pride and Prejudice being completely written in letters.  It is believed that Jane Austen originally wrote Pride and Prejudice in epistolary form and so this is a very original and brilliant concept to develop.

“In this imaginative retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Amanda Grange now tells the classic story through the eyes of its compelling romantic hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy—in a series of revealing letters that casts a sparkling new reflection on the manners and morals of the landed gentry in 19th-century England… Here, for the first time, are the letters written by the exceedingly proud and stubborn Mr. Darcy, covering the life-changing events that defined him—from the death of his father, to his control of his Derbyshire estate of Pemberley to his conflicted courtship with the lively, intelligent, and delightfully willful Elizabeth Bennet. Try as he may, he cannot deny his attraction to this woman with fine eyes, a playful spirit, a mind of her own… and an embarrassing family that is frankly, and utterly, beneath him. But it is Elizabeth who controls both their destinies, and whose surprises will change Darcy’s life yet again.”

I have to admit that I was dubious about reading an entire novel in letters... I wondered how the story would flow and could be told through letters and letters only. But I had loved Ms. Grange’s Diary series which tells each of Jane Austen’s 6 major novels from the point of view of the hero (review here) and so I was definitely going to give this story a try! And I had no need to be worried about the letter format of the story for it was brilliant. It allowed the reader to be shown so many scenes from different perspectives as well the thoughts and feelings of so many different characters that we do not get to know that well in the original.

As I said, I found it really interesting seeing many of the events from the original told from another point of view. A few favourite examples of this for me would be....

Early on at Netherfield when Jane is ill, it was fun to see what the letter Darcy was writing to Georgiana in the drawing room actually said, as I always wondered what he was actually writing to her when Caroline asks him what he is doing so secretly in the corner and begs him to tell Georgiana how she longs to see her – and no, he wasn’t writing quite what Caroline wished him to!  

Another example was the Netherfield Ball.  I enjoyed all the different letters written after the ball; Elizabeth's view, Kitty's view, Mary's view, Charlotte’s view and Mr Darcy’s. The different accounts and seeing what was the focus of each account was very showing of the writer’s character (Kitty wrote mostly of the officers and the dancing for example!)

Another interesting section was Lydia’s elopement, seeing the letters from Kitty to Lydia about Wickham and all her secret and scandalous goings on, for we know that the news of the elopement when it happens is not such a shock to Kitty as it is to everyone else.  And then during the discovery of the pair, seeing how the news of the scandal was spreading, for gossip really does travel fast! We also get to see Mr Gardiner’s perspective of his search of the pair, and then also Darcy's account - we never actually hear his account of the search in London.

Another fun event was the meeting at Pemberley, getting to see both Lizzy’s take on the unexpected meetings and subsequent interactions as well as Darcy’s and what was going through his mind.

There are many, many more which I could mention, but I do not want to spoil it all, just enough to whet your appetite!

I found it remarkable how the novel started before the time of the original, and in fact, the first 100 pages or so of the story are set before the start of Pride and Prejudice. It was not boring, however, for it gave interesting background to the story and it helped to set up events in the novel. Let me explain... we are shown things such as how Lady Catherine comes to needing a new rector, how Caroline Bingley becomes acquainted with (and besotted with) Mr. Darcy, why Netherfield Park becomes vacant in the first place, and much more. It really added great depth.

The story, in fact, began around the time of Old Mr Darcy’s death and shows how Darcy coped with this and the time directly afterwards. Darcy is written to by a variety of family members (such as a Mr Philip Darcy, his cousin, and another aunt, Aunt Adelaide.)  It was nice to hear something of Darcy's family for it gives him depth and it made me feel as though I knew more about who he was much more quickly, as we know so little of him, really, until very late into the novel.

It's also nice to see into Elizabeth's past and the events leading up to the start of the novel. It gives a little more into her character, although she is well developed in the novel already. Her letters to Mrs Gardiner were always very lovely to read and I liked seeing more into the reasons for their strong relationship which we see later in the original story.  But again, I am going to start to give away too much and so I shall stop!

As well as having many scenes from a completely different point of view, which often throws a completely different spin on the scene, the letters also show interesting insight into the thoughts and feelings of some characters we perhaps don’t get to know all that well in the original. There were also some interesting new characters which helped to add to the story.  (Of course, seeing more into Darcy’s thoughts, and Elizabeth’s, was brilliant to read, but I shall focus on some different characters.)

Let’s begin with the scoundrel Wickham. I didn’t think it was possible to hate Wickham anymore than I did already, but clearly I was wrong, for while reading this story my dislike for him just grew and grew! You are really shown his true nature and all his roguish behaviour through letters he writes to his equally as bad friend Mr Parker, and also failed companion Mrs Younge.  You see what is going through his mind during the attempted elopement with Georgiana and then the successful elopement with Lydia, and how both events came about. He really is abominable and if you like to hate Wickham, then read this.

As I always do, I love seeing more about Colonel Fitzwilliam.  He is a great character and I always like to see him developed, which we see through his letters to Darcy. In these letters, I enjoyed the added comments about the war and insights into Colonel Fitzwilliam's adventures on the continent. I liked having some historical detail and all the talk of war I found fascinating.

Two of the Bennet sister’s who we don’t hear that much about are Mary and Kitty, however their characters are both explored in this story. In particular, we get to know Mary very well and she is such fun and responsible for a lot of the humour as you get to see the full extent of her moralising nature!

Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy are both further developed as well, and this is done through the strong friendship and the resulting letters between the two. I always imagined them as friends, and Anne does not seem such a weak character and it is her mother who is ‘playing up’ her illness.

And now to the new additions, starting with the Bingley’s; we all know Charles, Caroline and Louisa and that they have a background in trade, but we know nothing about their past and the rest of their family. We get to see their parents and the tone and style of the letters from their mother and father really highlights their background in trade, and his mother’s manner in trying to elevate them, through her sons and daughters, to a higher rank in society is clear. It really showed how unequal they are to Darcy and therefore how kind he is being to the Bingley's - and it illustrated how Bingley's attachment to Jane is not degrading, for really the Bingleys are below the Bennets. Caroline and Louisa also add to the humour throughout the story, particularly Caroline with her continual perusal of Darcy and how oblivious she is to Darcy’s utter annoyance with her and her foolish and embarrassing attempts to capture him in marriage!

Another interesting addition was Darcy cousin, Philip Darcy, who was possibly prouder than Fitzwilliam Darcy! The letters between the two cousins helped to show more about Darcy’s upbringing and his character.

Finally, the addition of the Sotherton family who are the owners of Netherfield Park and therefore let it out to Mr Bingley; in the family there are three sisters, all who help in developing the characters of the Bennet sisters.  There are silly letters between Eleanor Sotherton, Kitty and Lydia, amusing letters between Lucy Sotherton and Mary Bennet (who are both as bad as each other with their continual moralising!) and meaningful letters between Susan Sotherton, Elizabeth and Charlotte Lucas.

So, as you can probably see, I really loved this book. I also found it amazing that a story can feel so sweet and romantic and yet it never actually has Darcy and Elizabeth directly interact with each other, for never do either write the other a letter (except the explanation letter, which is very different (and wasn't actually in this book anyway)) as all their interactions were always explained afterwards and in a letter to another person!  Now that shows talent on Ms. Grange's part.
I found the format refreshing to read as well as being very clever and it worked brilliant for the story. I never imagined I would enjoy it so much! The letter style was absolutely fascinating and showed so much more insight into so many of the characters we already know and love as well as adding some very interesting new characters. The style never got tedious and the story always flowed and didn’t feel forced or stilted. Having different accounts of many scenes we known but from a variety of different perspectives was just brilliant. If you love Pride and Prejudice as much as I do, then I highly recommend that you read this story.

Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mr Darcy's Promise Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to...

Vesper Meikle! 

You are the randomly selected winner for the copy of Mr Darcy's Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth! I have passed on your email address and you should be hearing from Jeanna before too long. I hope you enjoy the story! 

Thank you to all who entered and if you are not the winner then I highly recommend taking advantage of the brilliant sale on Amazon for Mr Darcy's Promise which ends tonight, the 14th! 

Thank you again to Jeanna Ellsworth for offering this giveaway opportunity! 

Your affectionate friend, 

post signature

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blog Hop and Giveaway: Mr Darcy's Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth

Today I have the pleasure of being part of the blog tour for the wonderful story Mr. Darcy's Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth.  For a limited time, February 8-14, Mr. Darcy’s Promise will be available for .99¢ exclusively from and

"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?"


For the full list of blogs taking part in the blog hop then please take a look here.

I read Mr. Darcy's Promise a few months back and I loved it. It is a very moving story which is highly romantic, funny and a clever exploration of an alternative path for the universally loved classic. (See my review here.)

Today I will be the third blog posting an excerpt from chapter one of Mr Darcy's promise!

To read the first part of the chapter visit Addicted to Jane Austen and to read the second section, preceding the excerpt below, visit My Love for Jane Austen.

So, here is the third excerpt from chapter one of Mr Darcy's
Promise. Enjoy!


The next few days were spent between strange looks from Mr. Darcy, smiles of mischief from Miss Darcy, and frowns of frustration from Miss Bingley. Elizabeth was greatly relieved when Jane was finally feeling well enough to come down. The last few days without her had been wild! First Mr. Darcy greeted his sister with such tenderness she could scarcely believe it was him, and much more strangely, he asked her to dance a jig. A jig, of all things! He seemed much more relaxed with Georgiana around and she scarcely knew what to think of him!

It was Sunday morning and Jane and Elizabeth were hours away from returning to Longbourn. All Elizabeth had to do was patiently wait for church services to finish and then Mr. Bingley would have his carriage return them home. Church seemed to be taking especially long this morning! Elizabeth realized she had heard very little of what the clergyman said because of the reflection she was doing on Mr. Darcy. Why was he so changed towards her? She again wondered if she misjudged him. It hadn’t been all that unpleasant dancing with him either. What am I doing? Why would I enjoy a dance with a man who has always held me in such contempt? She did not know what to think of it.

The clergyman did not have Mr. Darcy’s attention either. More than anything, Mr. Darcy was overcome with the realization that Elizabeth was leaving Netherfield and he would not see her every day. Oh, the torture this thought brought! Her charming smiles, the merriness of her laughter, the way she crossed her ankles, the looks of impertinence, the soft full lips as she spoke his name . . . No, this would not do! He must marry and marry well! Marriage? Who said anything about marriage? He had simply been admiring her intelligence.

If Mr. Darcy was being honest with himself, which he was not, he would have said there was no other woman like her. No other woman stirred feelings of admiration and sparked sensations of curiosity to know more, like Miss Elizabeth did. But Mr. Darcy was not being honest with himself. Instead he was thinking of their one dance together and that relaxed smile on her lips and how much he wanted to kiss them. He thought about how well she got along with Georgiana and how quickly Georgiana had opened up to her. He was thinking about how nice it would be for Georgiana to have Elizabeth’s influence in her life, and in a moment of honesty, in his life.

“William, the song is over, you can sit down now,” Georgiana whispered, pulling on his hand.

He quickly sat down and whispered his thanks. Look what Elizabeth was doing to him! Focus, man!

After the closing prayer, Georgiana leaned over and continued, “I think I would like to call on Miss Elizabeth tomorrow. Would that be acceptable?”

       A small smile spread across his face, but only briefly, as he realized he would not be calling on Elizabeth with Georgiana. For the life of him he couldn’t think of a single excuse to do so! He then thought of Georgiana in the presence of the other Bennets and frowned. Elizabeth’s youngest sisters alone would be the worst influence possible! And Mrs. Bennet was something else! How could anyone live with such a shrill voice calling out orders, opinions, and innuendos so quickly that people were dizzy just listening for five minutes! He looked at Georgiana, ready to tell her exactly what he thought when he saw the expectant look in her hopeful eyes and it undid him. Why was he always a sucker for fine eyes?

“Georgiana, if you would like to, you certainly may, but not alone. See if Miss Bingley or Mrs. Annesley will go with you.”

Georgiana frowned. If her plan was going to work, he needed to accompany her! “I was hoping to have you . . .”

Then he heard her. That voice, and it was certainly as loud and obnoxious as ever.

“Mr. Bingley! Oh Mr. Bingley! Thank you so much for the care you gave to my dear Jane! She is looking so much better then when I saw her last, does she not?” asked Mrs. Bennet.

“Of course, I have never seen her more beautiful!” Mr. Bingley replied.

“And the church lighting near the altar is so becoming of her complexion!” Mrs. Bennet then proceeded to lead Mr. Bingley by the arm as if to place him closer to the very altar she spoke of.

Elizabeth was caught between amusement and shame at her mother’s behavior, but then her feelings quickly turned to concern for Jane, who was now the object of much scrutiny by the people passing them down the aisle. Only their mother would push her matchmaking skills in the middle of church! She looked at Mr. Darcy and saw his disapproval written all over his face.  Yes, he was quite displeased.

Promises to return the Bennet daughters as soon as possible were made and Mr. Darcy quickly escorted Georgiana out.

That! That was precisely why he could not align himself with any Bennet, much less Elizabeth! Her family was so ridiculous he would be laughed at wherever they went! Master of Pemberley laughed at? He could not bear it. He would no longer think on her fine eyes or the oft-raised eyebrow. He would no longer seek out her company, no longer look at her, nor let his mind drift to those chocolate curls. No, he decided. He simply would no longer desire her. No sooner had he decided this then he found his very own hand reaching for Elizabeth’s to assist her into the carriage. The surge of sensation running from his hand up his arm was so strong he dropped it as soon as possible, opening and closing his hand trying to dispel the sensation. He could still feel the heat and tingling that merely touching her caused.

Elizabeth noticed the quickly dropped hand as well. So the old Mr. Darcy was back in fine form, so prideful and conceited that he could not properly hand a lady into a carriage. Of course all these people were watching and she curtailed the temptation to say something smart when she bit her lip. Only a few more minutes with him and then she should never see him again! But she knew that wasn’t true, especially if Jane and Bingley got married. She would be thrown in his path over and over again! This realization did not help her mood any.

Georgiana saw Elizabeth bite her lip and turned to Miss Bingley and asked, “Miss Bingley, could I persuade you to pay a call to Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth tomorrow with me? I have heard such lovely things about Longbourn’s gardens and I know you would feel it appropriate to check in on Miss Bennet’s health.”

Mr. Bingley piped up and said, “What a marvelous idea!” 

Seeing the rudeness of a refusal right in front of the Bennet sisters, Miss Bingley said, “Of course, Georgiana, it would be my pleasure!”

Both Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley noticed the broad grin that splayed across Georgiana’s features. Elizabeth, however, had been looking out the window to avoid seeing what she knew would be further displeasure on Mr. Darcy’s face.
Hop on over to So Little Time... tomorrow to continue reading the first chapter - it will be well worth your time I can assure you!

Jeanna Ellsworth also has a second book coming out, Pride and Persistence, which is due to be published in March. This book sounds like a lot of fun - think 'Pride and Prejudice' meets '50 First Dates'!

"Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth.
This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, does persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence."

This sounds like it is going to be a good one! To read the first chapter, go on over to her blog.

The lovely Jeanna is also offering some great giveaway opportunities during this tour.  Throughout the blog hop, she is offering seven chances to win a signed copy of Mr Darcy's promise, one for each blog taking part. Enter as many times as you wish for your chance to win!

How to enter on my blog: if you have Twitter, follow Jeanna (@ellsworthjeanna) or if you have Facebook, like her author’s page (search Jeanna Ellsworth) and then just comment to let me know you have done this. If you do not use either Twitter or Facebook then just leave a comment with your thoughts on either of Jeanna's stories!

Please also leave your email address so that Jeanna can get in touch with the winner, who will be randomly selected from the comments. The giveaway on my blog ends on the 14th February. Good luck! And don't forget that there is more than one chance to win!

I highly recommend taking advantage of this brilliant promotion, for the story is well worth a read, even at the full price!

I just want to say  a big thank you to both Jeanna Ellsworth and to Angela Simmons for including me in this blog hop and good luck to Jeanna with the publication of Pride and Persistence and for any other books in the future!

Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Janet Taylor: Guest Post

Today we have a lovely guest post from the amazing artist Janet Taylor. I can't remember how I first stumbled across Janet's work, but I loved it immediately! I came very close to purchasing something from her website, but then imagine my surprise when the lovely Cynthia Hensley (author of Echoes of Pemberley and The Heart Does Whisper  both stories well worth a read!) sent me a Christmas present consisting of Janet's lovely Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth calendar and a compact mirror! I was very grateful to Cynthia for such a lovely gift and I was also pleased to now own something by the talented Janet! I love the calendar and, as you will see from images throughout the post, she is very talented and can capture the expressions and looks of the characters very well! (Although the images do not do justice to the real thing!) I contacted the lovely Janet as I was very interested in her inspiration behind her drawings and also about how she approached drawing such iconic characters, and so she was kind to agree to write a guest post for me!


Thank you, Sophie, for inviting me to be your guest. That is quite an honor as are your kind words about my drawings. It was about three years ago when I first started drawing some of the scenes from the 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries. Until that time I had not drawn many people so this was a new and exciting direction for me. Following is the account of how my drawing career began.

I loved reading Pride and Prejudice and the many alternate paths. An author friend challenged me to see what I could do with a drawing of Darcy and Lizzy for the cover of her book. I was a little nervous about it but decided to give it a try. At that time we were unable to use my drawing for her cover but it was the beginning for me. (The drawing is the one that I have titled, ‘A Walk in the Woods’.) I then decided to try some of my favorite scenes from the miniseries. I guess the rest is history.

In the summer of 2012 I was fortunate to make a trip to England. I had a marvellous time and saw many of the places where the miniseries was filmed. I took many photographs which later gave me good detail for backgrounds. While there I found out that I could sell my work. When I returned home I began in earnest doing enough drawings to publish a twelve month calendar. I hoped to have it finished in time for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice. I did make it in time but just barely. I have continued to draw and have now started drawing some book covers. It has been a surprising but thrilling venture.
When I am drawing the scenes I work hard to get the expressions of the characters just right. My desire for each drawing is to capture the feel of the scene that I am portraying. Probably the eyes are the most important part of doing that as they truly are ‘the windows to the soul’. I spend much time trying to get them just right―to a point where I can live with the drawing as it is. Sometimes I do and those are the good times. The smile and the nose are both important too but the eyes convey the feeling. I want to make them come alive. My medium of choice is soft core pencils. They allow me to get more detail plus I love working with them for their blending capabilities.

If you want to see more of my drawings, you can visit my website at JT Originals.   I also have a 2014 P&P calendar, mugs, mouse pads, compacts, tiles and note cards featuring my drawings. They are on the website as well. Some of my newest drawings from the 2014 calendar are featured on the Illustrations page of my blog, More Agreeably Engaged.

My artistic interpretations are a tribute to Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice, the 1995 miniseries, the 2005 movie and the actors. Although the miniseries is my favorite, there are many things I like about the movie too. I’m always glad to know which drawings are favorites of others and why. I’m glad that you shared some of yours with me.

Thank you again, Sophie, for having me and allowing me the privilege of talking to you and your readers about my drawings.

Thank you again to Janet for this most interesting post. Good luck with any future book covers and of course new drawings in the future! I am sure I will be purchasing something else before too long!
I really recommend having a look around her website, for her drawing really are wonderful and unbelievably life-like - I wish I could draw like that! I have my calendar pinned up next to my bed, and so consequently I have Darcy watching over me as I sleep - what could be more perfect?

Your affectionate friend,
post signature