Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Gift from Mom
Ellen and Mimi Dodge are two sisters with personalities that do not mesh well together. Separated by several states, they’ve grown apart and their relationship has somewhat deteriorated over the years. But since it is their mother’s last wish, Ellen and Mimi are traveling to England together to find an appropriate place to scatter their mother’s ashes. Their mother, anticipating her death from cancer, prepared for her daughters to take a Jane Austen walking tour of Hampshire, England, which includes walks to Stevenson Rectory, Jane Austen’s House Museum, and Winchester Cathedral. It was her greatest desire that her daughters would discover the greatness of Jane Austen and establish a strong sisterly bond. And so, Ellen and Mimi, neither of them Jane Austen fans, embark on this overseas adventure with very little enthusiasm or excitement, completely unaware of all the adventure, romance, and self-discovery that awaits them!
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All is the third book in Beth Pattillo’s “Formidable” series. In previous books, our heroines have encountered members of the Formidables (a secret society of select Austen scholars that safely guard and conserve a massive collection of letters and documents that belonged to Jane Austen) and have unearthed the “secrets” of Jane Austen’s life. In this tale, Ellen and Mimi find something that belongs to Cassandra Austen that discloses some unknown truths about her relationship with Jane.
I think this is Beth Pattillo’s best novel yet! I loved that there were two heroines instead of one and that the story was told from both their point-of-views. While they were not the most admirable and lovable heroines, I enjoyed witnessing their character development and hearing their thoughts and opinions. Moreover, I loved discovering the “triple parallels” between Ellen/Mimi, Elinor/Marianne, and Cassandra/Jane. It was interesting to see what these pairs of sisters had in common with each other, and to realize that no matter what age, time period, country, etc. sisters (and people) will always face the same trials and conflicts. Lastly, I took great pleasure in discovering the many similarities between Ms. Pattillo’s characters and plot events and Jane Austen’s characters and plot events from Sense and Sensibility. I delighted in Ms. Pattillo’s creative and plausible reincarnations of Willoughby, Edward Ferrars, and Colonel Brandon. Her Colonel Brandon (Thomas) was by far my favorite!
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All is a light-hearted and endearing tale filled with self-discoveries, history, mystery, and romance. I love Ms. Pattillo’s novels, I feel like I take a trip to Jane Austen’s England every time I crack open the spine! I’m so pleased with the romantic ending she gave this story! One aspect I didn’t like about her two previous novels was the lack of romantic conclusion. Job well done, Beth Pattillo! Please say there will be a fourth installment for this intriguing and creative series!
Beth Pattillo’s “Formidable Series”
This is my second completed item for the “Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge” hosted by Austenprose.