Tag Archives: Jane Austen

#BookReview ‘The Clergyman’s Wife’ by @MollyJGreeley #books #JaneAusten

If like me you are fascinated and disturbed by the decision of Charlotte Lucas to marry Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice, then you will enjoy The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley. I felt immediately immersed in Charlotte’s world at Hunsford. Molly Greeley

I won’t summarise the background to this novel on the assumption that all readers will be fans of Pride and Prejudice. Suffice to say, this could so easily have slipped into negative territory, negativity about William Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but Greeley handles Austen’s characters with respect, taking the heritage of Charlotte’s situation and adding a fresh perspective on her future. We see Mr Collins from a new, sympathetic angle, and are given an insight into Charlotte’s decision to marry him, her family’s position and the limited options available to her.

I liked Charlotte extremely, a considered, thoughtful woman, given an impossible choice to make and often put into uncomfortable situations by the crassness of people around her. Charlotte however is not negative, she works out the positive thing to do rather than assign blame.

This is a Regency family drama structured around the meaning of love; all kinds of love, for your spouse, your parents and siblings, as a mother, for the people who are your responsibility, and for yourself. Although Charlotte lives a life constrained by geography, convention and manners, that does not mean she lacks freedom. It is a freedom of imagination, a freedom of the mind. So when she faces a situation which she never believed would befall her, it is a life-changing experience.

A delightful light read, I read it in one sitting in holiday, you most definitely must have read Pride and Prejudice  first to get the most from the undercurrent of references. I can’t help but wonder what Jane Austen would think of it.

If you like this, try:-
Miss Austen’ by Gill Hornby
The Ballroom’ by Anna Hope
‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ by Kate Morton

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THE CLERGYMAN’S WIFE by @MollyJGreeley #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4sX via @SandraDanby

#Bookreview ‘Miss Austen’ by @GillHornby #JaneAusten #historical

What a delicious first chapter there is to MISS AUSTEN by Gill Hornby. Elderly Cassandra Austen arrives unannounced to visit a family friend in Kintbury, endures a parsimonious supper and a difficult evening without much conversation. Why, I wondered, is Cassandra there. And then at bedtime, comes a hint at her reason. Gill Hornby

Cassandra visits Isabella, a family friend who is grieving the death of her father. Cassandra’s objective, is to retrieve any incriminating letters between her sister Jane and Isabella’s mother, Eliza, before Isabella leaves the family vicarage. With both letter writers dead, and knowledge of the novelist Jane Austen more widely sought than ever before, Cassandra is anxious to protect Jane’s legacy.

What follows is a gentle telling of the sisters’ relationship as Hornby pieces together the real letters of the Austen sisters and the known biography of the family, combined with events and dialogue of her own imagination. This is a meandering read without a real focus, there is the imagined threat to Jane’s reputation as Cassandra searches for the missing letters under threat of exposure by her sister-in-law Mary. But this threat is not wholly formed and the story goes back and forth between Cassandra reading the letters at the dead of night, to key times in the life of Jane.

Not until three-quarters of the way through does the dilemma becomes personal to Cassandra. Until this point, it is oddly numb. Cassandra has been seeking private – and very personal – letters written to Eliza but instead finds letters that cast what she, Cassandra, believes to be a bad light on her own life. Not Jane’s. The stakes are raised and I wanted to see more than a snapshot of the man involved and don’t really care if he was a real person or the author’s invention.

Cassandra in her old age is dismissive of those who do not read or don’t appreciate the art of her sister’s books, and has a lack of interest in anyone not an Austen. ‘Those other mortals, whose poor veins must somehow pulse with no Austen blood in them, always appeared to her comparatively pale’. This quote reminded me of Marianne’s dismissal of Edward’s underwhelming reading of Shakespeare sonnets and made me want a 360 degree picture of Cassandra’s own life.

I finished Miss Austen reflecting on the difficulty of writing this novel. What an awkward task it is for an author, to balance biography and real letters with invention and how strong must be the impulse to stick with the truth. I longed for Hornby to take a bigger risk and show us more of the life, and loves, Cassandra may have had.

If you like this, try:-
After Leaving Mr Mackenzie’ by Jean Rhys
The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins
Amy Snow’ by Tracy Rees

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
MISS AUSTEN by @GillHornby #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4iB via @SandraDanby

My Porridge & Cream read @marlaskidmore44 #books #JaneAusten

Today I’m delighted to welcome historical novelist Marla Skidmore. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Emma by Jane Austen.

“It was difficult to choose just one book for my Porridge and Cream read, as I have so many favourites. Anya Seton’s Katherine and Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army are very near the top of my list but if I have to pin it down to just one book, then it has to be Emma. It was at school, during a double Library period in the Summer of 1965, that my impressionable teenage self, became entranced by the world that Jane Austen created in her novels. Initially it was haughty Mr Darcy and feisty Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, that caught my attention but then I discovered her wonderfully flawed, high spirited and delightfully managing heroine, Emma Woodhouse.

Marla Skidmore

Marla’s copy of Emma

‘Handsome, clever and rich,’ Emma has no responsibilities other than the care of her rather foolish, elderly father.When her close companion, the motherly Anne Taylor gets married and leaves her, Emma sets out on an ill-fated match-making career which focuses on the pretty but dim Harriet Smith. Emma manages to cause misunderstandings with every new tactic she employs. Cherished and spoilt, she is charming to all those around her but insensitive to their feelings, so it takes her some time to learn her lesson and profit from spending less time worrying about how other people should live their lives and more time redeeming herself in the eyes of Mr Knightly, the man who loves her dearly but who is also her sternest critic. The more I read Emma, the more I appreciate Jane Austen’s sharp wit; her subtle analysis of contemporary life in small town Regency England and her incisive portraits of characters such as Mrs Augusta Elton, who has £10,000 but is boasting, pretentious and vulgar and the  Frank Churchill, whose surface charm hides a manipulative self-centred nature, determined to ensure his secret engagement to Jane Fairfax remains undetected.”
Marla SkidmoreBUY THE BOOK

Marla’s Bio
Marla Skidmore grew up in a small medieval city in the Yorkshire Dales.   After living in Europe for a number of years, she returned home to become a mature student. Having completed her studies and gained dual Honours in English and History and a Master’s degree in Literature; Marla went on to become a College Lecturer. Her award-winning debut novel, Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King, is inspired by the discovery of King Richard III’s remains on the 25th August 2012. She is now researching and writing the sequel Renegade, the story of Francis Viscount Lovell – King Richard’s greatest and most loyal friend. When not immersed in her current writing project, Marla enjoys gardening, exploring ancient ruins and taking long walks with her West Highland Terrier in the countryside surrounding the Dales village where she now lives.

Marla’s Links

Marla’s latest book
Marla SkidmoreDeath is not always the end. King Richard III.  Betrayed, defeated and savagely slain but Fate is not quite finished with him. He regains consciousness on Bosworth’s bloody field and concludes that the Almighty has granted him another chance to fight for his throne. About to leave the battlefield to head North, Richard is forced to take cover by the arrival of Henry Tudor and his men who are searching for his body to put on display.  Suddenly the cry goes up ‘We have found the king!’ He sees Henry Tudor standing triumphant over a mauled and battered corpse and hears him whisper ‘It is done. England is mine.’ How could this be when he is not dead? Richard sidles closer; to his utter horror finds himself looking at his own body. The appearance of the mysterious monk Father Gilbert, convinces him that he is dead and now in Purgatory – and so begins Richard’s harrowing journey through the Hereafter. Through his recollections in the Afterlife, reader is witness to the key events that lead to his violent end. The man behind the myths is revealed, as is the torment of a soul who believes that his honour and reputation have been forever destroyed by the malign propaganda of the Tudors. When at last Richard learns that this has not reigned supreme through the ages, he faces a decision that will affect his soul throughout eternity.

What is a ‘Porridge & Cream’ book? It’s the book you turn to when you need a familiar read, when you are tired, ill, or out-of-sorts, where you know the story and love it. Where reading it is like slipping on your oldest, scruffiest slippers after walking for miles. Where does the name ‘Porridge & Cream’ come from? Cat Deerborn is a character in Susan Hill’s ‘Simon Serrailler’ detective series. Cat is a hard-worked GP, a widow with two children and she struggles from day-to-day. One night, after a particularly difficult day, she needs something familiar to read. From her bookshelf she selects ‘Love in A Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford. Do you have a favourite read which you return to again and again. If so, please send me a message.

Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-
LM Milford’s choice is ‘4.50 From Paddington’ by Agatha Christie
Lexi Rees chooses ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is chosen by Julie Stock

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Why does historical novelist @marlaskidmore44 re-read EMMA by Jane Austen #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4hB via @SandraDanby

Great opening paragraph 63… ‘Pride and Prejudice’ #amwriting #FirstPara

Pride and Prejudice “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce
‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ by Carson McCullers
‘That They May Face the Rising Sun’ by John McGahern

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PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by #JaneAusten #books http://wp.me/p5gEM4-8t via @SandraDanby