Archive for 'Historical Fiction'

Lady Catherine’s Necklace – Book Revew


by Joan Aiken

A blizzard delivers to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s door, a gentile couple, Mr Delaval and his sister Miss Delaval.  Uncharacteristically, she offers them lodging while Miss Delaval recovers from a sprained ankle and their carriage is repaired.   The pair are soon firmly entrenched at Rosings much to the discomfort of other members of the house. The addition to Rosings Park sparks a series of changes and dramas that will alter the household forever.

Colonel Fitzwilliam has arrived, escorting Lady Catherine’s brother Lord Luke, who has pressing family business to discuss.  Lord Luke’s eccentric manner brings entertainment to Anne, Lady Catherine’s long suffering daughter but sorely tests the latter’s patience.  When Lady Catherine is compelled to visit her sister-in-law, Anne finds opportunity to escape her oppressive life and find her own feet.

The Parsonage is also experiencing change.  Charlotte Collins is confined with their 3rd child and her sister Maria Lucus has arrived to aid her.  Mr Collins is called away after the death of Mr Bennet of Longbourn, to finalise affairs regarding his inheriting the estate.  Maria has had much to ponder since her last visit and wonders if she will have the strength to face the man she shouldn’t love.

This was a fun book to read with the familiar characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  It was fun to get to know better some characters that we were not able to study closely in P & P.

I especially liked getting to know Maria Lucus and Anne de Bourgh better.

Posted on 7 November '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.

Netherfield Park Revisited – Book Review


by Rebecca Ann Collins

Book 3 of the Pemberley Chronicles

Jonathon Bingley, son of Charles and Jane Bingley, manages Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s estate, was a respected member of parliament and beloved by his family.  All his family, with the exception of his wife.  His busy life has resulted in his marriage becoming fractured.  He is geniuinely saddened by their condition and has tried to make his wife happy.  Amelia-Jane Bingley, daughter to Charlotte and Reverend Collins, will not be made happy by her husband though.  She has chosen to accept the bad advice and interference of Caroline Bingley and leave her husband.  Her behaviour will harm the family’s reputation and will damage Jonathon’s career.

With the support of his children, parents, aunts and uncles he struggles to keep his family free from the scandal.

This is a beautiful series and I’m anxious to read more Rebecca Ann Collins’ Pemberley Chronicles.

Posted on 28 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

The Ladies of Longbourn – Book Review


by Rebecca Ann Collins

Book 4 of the Pemberley Chronicles

Anne-Marie Bradshaw has just been widowed.  Beautiful, in her early twenties and with no children, you could assume that she would find happiness again with another man.  Her family is very concerned about her though.  She doesn’t grieve like you would expect and they are confused by her behaviour.  Unbeknownst to them, she is wracked by guilt over accepting a man whom she didn’t love.  Feelings of relief for the freedom her husband’s early death has given, is eclipsed by the sense of guilt for feeling that relief.  Anne-Marie is in a dark place and her family feels helpless.

Her salvation comes from the worthy endeavour to form a children’s hospital in the area.  With her energy directed to thatcause she begins to reclaim herself.  The children’s hospital saves Anne-Marie and Anne-Marie unwittingly saves more than the local children.  The new member of parliament for Netherfield is a passionate supporter of the hospital and of Anne-Marie.  Will she be able to get past her fear of entering into another loveless marriage though?

Rebecca Ann Collins has superbly captured the era and the integrity of Jane Austen’s England.  This series is beautiful and I thoroughly recommend it to Austen fans.

Posted on 22 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 2 Comments.

The Darcys Give a Ball – Book Review


by Elizabeth Newark

“The romantic attachments of one’s children are a constant distraction.” says Elizabeth Darcy (nee Bennet) to her sister Jane Bingley.  Jane and Elizabeth plan a ball to honour Mrs Darcy’s daughter Juliet’s 19th birthday.  The invitation list is extensive and includes, the Collins, Ferrars, Wentworths, Knightleys, Elliotts, Bingleys, Darcys, Fitzwilliams, Brandons, Churchills, Bertrams, and Musgroves.  The evening is truly eventful and for Eliza and Jonathon Collins, their first visit to Pemberley will change their lives forever.

I love that this book focusses so much on Charlotte Collins and her family.  They are often dismissed as obsurd in other Austen inspired works.  Charlotte is one of my favourite Austen women and am glad to see her so respectfully represented by Elizabeth Newark.

Posted on 18 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. No Comments.

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers – Book Review


by Marsha Altman

I hope for the sake of all Austen fans that Marsha Altman never puts down her pen.  She has delivered another beauty in The Plight of the Darcy Brothers, the follow up to The Darcys and The Bingleys.

It seems that rescuing Bennet girls is becoming an occupation for Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Despite some personal tragedy in his and Elizabeth’s lives, they feel compelled to aid Miss Mary Bennet, recently and abruptly returned from the Continent.   Their trip to Italy, brings distraction from their sorrow over failed pregnancies, allows Darcy to uncover secrets long hidden by his late father, and restores some dignity to Mary Bennet.

Darcy’s life and family will be forever changed by his undertaking to help the 3rd Bennet sister.

Marsha Altman has such a talent for writing Austen inspired works.  Her faithful representation of the era proves her knowledge of it must be extensive.  The characters (both hers and Austen’s) are wonderful and thoroughly convincing.  With her lovely writing style and witty humour, reading her books is one of the easiest, most enjoyable things you’ll ever do.

Thank you Marsha Altman.

Posted on 15 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 2 Comments.

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet – Book Review


by Colleen McCullough

Audio Book – Read by Nicki Paull

What shall Mary Bennet, 3rd sister of the Bennet girls, do now she is able to chose for herself.  She has spent the past twenty years quietly tending to her mother while her other sisters were busy marrying and expanding their families.  Her mother has died and now free, she may pursue her dream of publishing a book  about the conditions of the poor in England.  Mary Bennet is about to become acquainted with the world.

I had read that Colleen McCullough was mocking Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with this novel and my initial reaction to this story was frustration.  I fully admit to abusing you mercilessly Colleen McCullough, for sending my beloved Austen characters into wretched situations.  The Pride and Prejudice characters, twenty years on, were so different and disturbing that I was actually angry!  You are cunning though, Colleen McCullough, because having just put me in the pit of despair you then started to pull me from it.  Were you mocking P&P, I’m not sure but I really enjoyed the book eventually.  What you gave Mary Bennet and her family was truly wonderful.

So be brave Austen fans and trust Colleen to take you on a wonderful journey for Mary Bennet’s sake and independence.

Posted on 14 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 2 Comments.

Cassandra’s Sister – Book Review


by Veronica Bennett

ISBN: 0763634646

Veronica Bennett has penned a lovely book imagining Jane Austen’s life between 1794 and approx 1800 when they move to Bath.  Jane Austen writes of romance so Veronica gives Jane her romance.  Although we know how her story ends, it is lovely to imagine that she was touched by the love she obviously desired so much for herself.

We enter her life at the time her cousin Eliza learns of her husband’s execution in France.  Madame la Comtesse de Feuillide runs to the comforting arms of her cousins, the Austens.  Following this event is a time of great change for Jane.  She experiences love for the time, family tragedies, family triumphs and even leaves her beloved childhood home for Bath, a town she despises.   All this gives her the fortitude she needs to complete some of the most beloved books of all time.  Her life was short but does that mean her life was tragic? Veronica Bennett gives Jane a life rich with experiences, happy and sad and captured my idea of Jane beautifully.

Posted on 6 October '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 6 Comments.

Jane and the Barque of Frailty – Book Review


by Stephanie Barron

ISBN-13: 9780553802269

Jane’s dream is coming true.  Her beloved novel Sense and Sensibility is to be published and she is in London overseeing its printing.  The task also allows her to visit with her brother Henry and sister-in-law Eliza.

Jane’s pleasure is soon tested when a Russian Princess dies close by Henry and Eliza’s home and they are drawn into the drama.  Jane’s only choice is to solve the mysteries surrounding the princess’s life and death.

Stephanie Barron takes us on a great ride and teaches us much about English society of that time.  I was fascinated by the Barque of Frailty who are known by many names, the Muslin Company, Birds of Paradise, Demi-reps or more familiar to us Courtesans.

This Austen inspired novel is quite different from most I’ve read and I’m determined to seek out more of the series.  I have to admit to being a little distracted with it at first, until I got used to the language.  Stephanie uses a lot of French terminology and I kept losing my stride each time I hit one.  My tip is if you don’t speak it, don’t try to read those bits.. just jump over them and you’ll have fun with it.

Once immersed in the story I found I obsessed till the end and only managed to predict a little of the resolution.   It was a great read Stephanie Barron.. thank you.

Posted on 2 October '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 3 Comments.

The Matters at Mansfield – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1847-3

There are some people you should never invite to a party. Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) and Mr and Mrs Darcy because scandel follows them and someone always turns up dead.  At least Miss Marple had the decency to look for her corpes in the newspaper.

Mr and Mrs Darcy are attending a ball the at the Fitzwilliams with Lady Catherine, Anne de Burgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam.  Lady Catherine is determined to find a suitably rich and titled match for her daughter Anne.  Anne, however has a different idea and has everyone scrambling when she elopes.  The drama unfolds at Mansfield Park and we get a glimpse of characters from Jane Austen’s classic.  Unfortunately we get only a glimpse and I was sad we didn’t see more of them.

It’s a great series and this book just as good as the others.

Posted on 15 September '09 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 5 Comments.

The Darcys and the Bingleys – Book Review


by Marsha Altman

ISBN-13: 9781402213489

Published: 2008

Ms Altman, I bow down to your wit, humour and superior story-telling skills.  The Darcys and the Bingleys was wonderful.

I regularly laughed out loud and was loathe to have to put the book down to keep my family fed and watered.

What a romp this book is, love and a fair amount of lust, (she says excitedly), mysteries, attempted murders, sword fights and rotten scoundrels.

The book contains all our favourite characters from Pride and Prejudice and begins just before Darcy and Bingley are to marry the beautiful Bennet sisters, Elizabeth and Jane.

Bingley is nervous about the wedding night and goes to Darcy for advice.  Here enters ‘the book’ the famous Kama Sutra, that I’m sure still resides in many a secret hideyhole in master bedrooms all over the world.  The Bennet sisters are horrified by the ‘responsibilities of a wife’ imparted to them by their mother on the eve of their wedding.  However, the sisters soon learn that being a responsible wife with loving and ‘educated’ husbands is not at all horrible.

Not surprisingly, the sisters are soon pregnant and the families start to expand. They have been great friends but becoming brothers has encouraged Darcy and Bingley to be competitive and occupy themselves by trying to best the other in anything. The voice of calm and reason comes to the brothers from an unexpected yet delightful source – one of my favourite characters – Mr Bennet.

A distraction does come in the form of a suitor for Caroline Bingley.  Charles asked Darcy to form an opinion of him as he himself does not trust the man.  Darcy also feels that something is amiss with the northerner Lord Kincaid, so he and the family are duty bound to discover who he is.

I loved this book to bits and am waiting on Plight of the Darcy Brothers to be delivered. Be kind to yourself and read it now… so off you go.

Posted on 6 September '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.