Archive for 'Historical Fiction'

The Darcy Cousins – Book Review


by Monica Fairview

Monica Fairview again gives us a lovely sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

In her last book The Other Mr Darcy we were introduced to Mr Robert Darcy, cousin to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley.  Mr Robert Darcy harks from America and is now happily settled in the UK with his lovely wife Caroline.  Arriving just in time for the Easter gathering at Rosings hosted by Lady Catherine De Bourgh, are Robert Darcy’s younger brother Frederick and sister Clarissa.

Clarissa Darcy is both beautiful and lively and believes all the world should live and behave as she does.  So in no time at all she affronts Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her ‘court’. 

Georgina Darcy is taken with her cousin.  She hasn’t anyone of her own age to share with and is impressed with her confidence and forthrightness.  Georgina decides to put herself under the tutelage of her brash American cousin but is it really the way it should be or should Clarissa be under Georgiana’s wing? 

During their time at Rosings the two prepare for their first London season and are introduced to a few of the local Kent eligible men.  For the first time since the unfortunate incident with George Wickham (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen),  Georgiana feels the stirrings of love for one of these young men.

When not impressing the local beaux, the pair decide to get to know their quiet, sickly cousin Anne de Bourgh better.  They tempt her to slip away from her minders and meet them for regular walks.  They are pleased with the changes they detect in Ann and the improvement in her health until one day Ann simply disappears.  Lady Catherine’s heartache and worry turns to rage directed at the girls.  The Darcy families are ejected from Rosings and a rift forms. 

The girls enter London and attempt to enjoy their first season despite the worry surrounding Ann’s disappearance.  Encountering the same Kent gents in London, Georgiana is certain she is falling hard for one man in particular but trouble looms when it seems both girls are trying to impress the same young man.

I do enjoy Monica Fairview’s style of writing and thoroughly recommend her to any fan of Austen or the works inspired by her.

Posted on 12 July '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter – Book Review


by Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln’s long lost journals have been discovered/acquired by Seth Grahame-Smith – lucky man.  What is revealed in the journals is incredible and offers a chance to understand why the amazing Abraham Lincoln was so truly great. 

The American people are oblivious to what their beloved president really did to secure their freedom.  Abraham Lincoln’s United States was fractured and while north and south fought each other they were ignorant of the real enemy threatening them all… vampires.  Few knew of the existence of vampires walking amongst them but Abraham was one of those few.  He had known from a very young age and had lived his whole life in pursuit of them. 

Abraham’s career in vampire hunting had a shaky start   He had a near fatal encounter with a particularly vicious vampire who prayed on children.   Abraham’s saviour had a wealth of knowledge  and taught him much about vampires and how to hunt them them.  From that moment an alliance was formed and Abraham had help in tracking the most dangerous vampires.  Abraham was fighting a war for the American people long before he entered the white house.

Another fun read by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I find the idea of matching classic literature or iconic characters with gothic or horror themes very entertaining.  I know that it can draw a lot of criticism but quite simply I LIKE IT.   It’s just a bit of fun and does it’s bit for promoting the ‘originals’.  I admit to googling madly after finishing the book because I was hungry for more on the amazing life of the real  Abraham Lincoln.

Posted on 8 July '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Paranormal Fantasy, Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy. 1 Comment.

Suspense and Sensibility – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

This is 2nd book in the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery series by Carrie Bebris. 

I’m glad to have finally read this one, I had to read this series out of order, which was no problem really, except that I was disappointed to have not been able to get Suspense and Sensibility immediately after I read Prescience and Prejudice.  I do like the way Carrie Bebris treats Jane Austen’s characters, especially Lizzy Darcy (nee Bennet).  Carrie’s Lizzy is exactly as I imagined her when reading Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Mr and Mrs Darcy find themselves embroiled in another deadly mystery.  This time it involves Lizzy’s beloved sister Kitty, who has been much improved since her removal from her sister Lydia’s influence.  Mrs Bennet persuades Mr and Mrs Darcy to introduce/chaperone Kitty at her first London season.   Lizzy and Kitty are delighted to meet an amiable, handsome young man Harry Dashwood, new owner of Norland estate,  Kitty and Harry are soon in love.  The Darcy family is delighted with the match, unlike Harry’s mother.  The selfish, self-serving wife of the late John Dashwood objects to Kitty’s lack of money and connections.  She does all she can to prevent Kitty usurping her as mistress of Norland. 

Whilst Mrs John Dashwood’s interference is damaging, it soon becomes the least of Kitty’s worries when her lovely Mr Dashwood undergoes a change of character.  With the wedding looming nearer, Harry seems to be enjoying his last day’s of freedom far too much and destroying his reputation and respectability along the way.  Mr and Mrs Darcy need to protect Kitty but with some loyalty left for their new friend Harry, they feel obligated to investigate the dramatic change of behaviour.  What could possibly make a man destroy his life when he about to embark on a marriage based on love?  With the aid of Harry’s sensible and loving relations, Mr Edward and Mrs Elinor Dashwood, the Darcy’s try to uncover the truth and save  Harry’s life.

I enjoy the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mysteries very much and am delighted that Carrie Bebris seems to be enjoying them so much that she’s still writing them.  She has just released The Intrigue at Highbury, which is on my bedstand right this minute.

Thank you Carrie Bebris.

Posted on 21 June '10 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

The Other Mr Darcy – Book Review


by Monica Fairview

After reading Monica Fairview’s The Other Mr Darcy I can’t believe that we’ve had to suffer all this time with only one Mr Darcy.  In a world full of such fine Austen inspired fiction why should we have ever been denied!

Monica Fairview has written a lovely sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which we are introduced to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy’s American cousin Mr Robert Darcy. I was pleasantly surprised to find the icy Miss Caroline Bingley as the heroine.  We witness Caroline and Robert’s first disasterous meeting on the day of Fitzwilliam’s marriage to Eliza Bennet.   

Much to Caroline’s embarrassment she is thrown into Robert Darcy’s path again when he is called on to escort her and her sister to Pemberley due to a family crisis.  The humiliation she faced on the occasion of their first meeting makes further contact unbearable.  Robert Darcy has seen her unmasked and vulnerable.  The public face that Caroline had been schooled to display doesn’t fool him and she is at his mercy.

I really enjoyed this book and felt comfortable and secure with the characters right from the opening pages.  Monica Fairview has treated Jane Austen’s characters faithfully and respectfully.  I enjoyed The Other Mr Darcy so much that I’ve just purchased The Darcy Cousins (also by Monica Fairview) and can’t wait to start it.

Thank you Monica Fairview.

Posted on 12 June '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

Murder at Mansfield Park – Book Review


by Lynn Shepherd

Prepare to throw away your preconceived idea about Mansfield Park (by Jane Austen) and its inhabitants because this novel will turn it on its head.  Fanny Price is not the conservative, gentle heroine we know from Austen’s Mansfield Park.  She is instead a conniving, heartless, selfish heiress.  She is the worst that money and indulgence can create. Since childhood, Fanny and Edmund Norris (yes Norris) have been promised to each other.  The Bertram and Norris families are determined to keep Fanny’s fortune in the family.  The Mansfield household is already precariously positioned when Henry and Mary Crawford – brother and sister – come to stay at the parsonage.  Their arrival creates fractures and a series of violent and tragic events that threaten to destroy the Park and the families within.    Charles Maddox, a London detective is brought in to unmask a murderer.

Lynn Shepherd… what courage… I salute you.  I admit to feeling a little miffed at you for meddling with Fanny Price, one of my favourite Austen characters.  I let out an audible groan when I read how awful she was going to be in your book.  To the credit of your pen though, it was not too much further in and I found myself happy with the wickedness of the wench.  With Fanny so deeply involved with her own self importance you took away our heroine but in her stead you skillfully rewrote Mary Crawford to fill the role and I soon loved her as I do Austen’s Fanny.   Not many Austen inspired novels have messed so much with the essence of the main heroine, but you had the courage to dethrone one and hand it to another… bravo.  

I enjoyed Murder at Mansfield Park very much and raced through to the end to see if my own sleuthing was correct.  As a devoted fan of both Jane Austen and Austen inspired fiction I hope you are planning another.

Thank you Lynn Shepherd.

Posted on 9 April '10 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen – These Three Remain


by Pamela Aidan

Book 3 of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen series.

Darcy’s annual visit to his Aunt Lady Catherine De Bourgh is due.  He is still struggling to distract himself from the unacceptable attractions of the lovely Elizabeth Bennet and so embarks on the visit to his Aunt accompanied by his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Believing the visit will help him beat his affliction, he is both mortified and exultant to find Elizabeth Bennet staying at the home of his aunt’s clergyman.  When he succumbs to his affections and unsuccessfully proposes to Elizabeth he is again faced with the challenge of forgetting her.  Returning to his home and his sister, Darcy battles the dark clouds that have enveloped him.  With help from his family, friends and the bollocking administered by Elizabeth he emerges as the gentleman he should have always been.  A chance encounter with Elizabeth gives Darcy opportunity to show her how he has strived to change and renew his addresses but something else descends to prevent their union.. he old enemy George Wickham.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series by Pamela Aidan.  She has been faithful to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and offered up an entertaining look into the life of Mr Darcy both with and away from Elizabeth Bennet.  His heart and mind revealed, his struggles laid out.  I recommend it to any fan of Austen.

Posted on 21 January '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews, Romance. 6 Comments.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman – Duty and Desire – Book Review


by Pamela Aidan

Book 2 in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series.

Darcy is following his own advice.  He has successfully separated his friend Bingley from the allurements of Miss Bennet and now he must do so for himself.  It is time he found himself a wife.  A wife equal to his station in life will cure him of his infatuation with Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

When an invitation arrives from an old school friend to attend a party at a country estate, Darcy, out of character, accepts.  He cannot accept just any woman of good breeding for a wife though.  She must be of his level in society but she must also possess the qualities he has recently discovered to be essential to his happiness. Will anyone compare to the witty, clever Hertfordshire beauty with the sparkling eyes?  He may be looking for wife but others, more desperate, are also looking for a husband.  Little does he know what he and his trusted valet Fletcher must do to survive that week.     His quest for love will put Darcy is danger for his life.

I was very surprised by this book.  At first I was a little confused as it steers away from the story we know in Pride and Prejudice.  However, it soon makes sense.  What did Darcy do in those months of separation from Elizabeth?  What could have happened to create the desperation that flavoured his offer to her.

I enjoyed this surprising 2nd book in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series.

Posted on 29 December '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews, Romance. 1 Comment.

Sense and Sensibility – Book Review


by Jane Austen

Written in 1790′s and published 1811 Sense and Sensibility was the first of Jane’s novels to published.

This insightful study of human nature focusses on Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  The Dashwood women, Mary (mother), Elinor, Marianne and Margaret are wrenched from their privilaged life after the death of their husband and father.  The estate is passed to his son by his first marriage and John Dashwood does nothing to aid his father’s 2nd family.  The Dashwood women are left with very little to live on.  Their sudden demotion in society complicates the sisters’ chances of marrying well.

Mrs Dashwood’s cousin, Sir John Middleton, comes to the rescue with the offer of a cottage on his estate Barton Park for a cheap rent.  Settling at Barton Cottage finds the family included in a good-hearted but eccentric social circle.  The sisters have to suffer match-making and teasing from Sir John and his mother-in-law,  Mrs Jennings.     The interferrence of the well-meaning Mrs Jenning is made more unbearable when both girls lose their hearts to men beyond their reach.  They learn painful lessons about love and the loss of it.

Sense and Sensibility highlights the precarious position of women of that era.  They weren’t able to earn their fortune and if they lost it, as the Dashwoods did, then their attractiveness is significantly reduced. Jane gives us a clear view of her opinion of the situation of women, being dependent on men, undervalued and censured for being independent.  She creates wonderful characters who masterfully make what they can of their oppressed  lives.

Reading Jane Austen is such a pleasure.  Her characters are rich and sure and I never feel happy to finish a book.  She has such an indepth understanding of human behaviour and the human heart.  Jane made a point of only writing what she had knowledge of, so let us hope that she did experience some of the love she so generously gifts to her heronines.

Essential reading for all young women.  It is humbling to know that even at that time someone was working to highlight the challenges of women.

Posted on 17 December '09 by , under Classic Lit, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews, Romance. 8 Comments.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman – An Assembly Such As This – Book Review


by Pamela Aidan

Book 1 of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Series.

An Assembly Such As This is a wonderful look into the mind and heart of Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, the much loved leading man in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  The series re-tells Pride and Prejudice but from Mr Darcy’s point of view.

This first book takes us through Mr Darcy’s arrival in Hertfordshire and his relationship with Charles Bingley.  When Mr Bingley falls for the eldest Miss Bennet, Darcy is concerned about his friend making an undesirable match.  The Bennets are below Bingley’s station in society.  His study of Miss Bennet makes him doubt her affection for his friend and after inappropriate comments and behaviour of other members of her family, he suspects their occupation is fortune hunting.

During his stay with Bingley he is also thrown into the society of Miss Bennet’s younger sister Elizabeth.  Confounded by his fascination with the raven haired Hertford beauty with the quick wit and sparkling eyes, he endeavours to heed his own advice and avoid the undesirable connection.

Mr Darcy has been written beautifully by Pamela Aidan.  I recognised instantly, the man, whose depths we only glimpsed in Pride and Prejudice.  The other characters represented are equally recognisable.  Like slipping on comfy slippers, you feel like you’ve slipped straight into Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – all be it from another’s point of view.

Pamela Aidan has done a lovely job and I think you will enjoy a closer look at Jane Austen’s wonderful man, Mr Darcy.

Posted on 6 December '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 2 Comments.

Emma and Knightley – Book Review


by Rachel Billington

What happened to Emma and her Mr Knightley after Jane Austen put down her pen?  Rachel Billington has written a lovely sequel to the much adored Austen classic Emma.

After only one year, Emma and Mr Knightley’s marriage isn’t as carefree as they each would have liked.  Tragic news reaches Hartfield that the lovely Jane Churchill (nee Fairfax) has died after giving birth to a boy and her distraught husband Frank is missing.  Frank’s father, Mr Westen, cannot leave his wife who is about to give birth herself and askes Mr Knightley to travel to London to try to find the broken Frank Churchil and bring him home to Highbury.

Mr Knightley lodges with his brother John and his wife Isabelle, Emma’s sister, whilst in London.  He isn’t able to find Frank but writes to Emma saying that business holds him town for a little longer.  Emma and Mr Knightley had not been apart since their wedding and Emma finds the separation difficult.  She is made more uncomfortable by the feeling that her husband isn’t telling her everything.  She senses that something is wrong but he will not confide in his wife.

Over the past year Emma has felt more and more unsteady about the way her husband treats her like a child.  She wishes he would trust her and consult with her on more serious matters than the dinner menu.

Jane Austen once discribed Emma as the heroine that you would despise and then come to love.  Rachel Billington has kept with Jane’s vision of Emma.  She is full of her own self-importance and position in the community and blinded from seeing the value of the people around her.  Emma’s foibles are frustrating but as promised by Jane, she has capacity for goodness and is shamed into correcting herself.

Rachel Billington has been faithful to our Jane and I enjoyed Emma and Knightley very much.

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