Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Note: I know this book isn’t marketed or labeled an Austenesque novel, but I found it to be one. It isn’t a retelling or adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but readers can clearly see that this story was inspired and influenced by Pride and Prejudice and it’s characters. Similar to Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea definitely felt Austen-Inspired.
In Pride and Prejudice,Darcy and Elizabeth are separated by social standing, upbringing, and wealth – in At the Edge of the Sea, Karen Cox creates an even bigger chasm between her principal characters by making Billy Ray the son of an evangelist preacher and Lizzy Quinlan the town’s “sadder but wiser girl” with a reputation for being “fast and loose.” Taking us back to the summer 1959, Karen Cox tells the story of a young man and how his decision to show compassion to another person changes him, changes her, and changes the course of their lives.
Oh my! There was so much I adored and admired about this novel! I loved that this coming-of-age story is about a young man’s transformation into adulthood, and that we see the whole novel from his perspective. What a refreshing change! I deeply enjoyed the characters in this novel, especially Lizzy and Billy Ray, whom I felt a lot a strong sense of connect and empathy towards. They are both such strong, admirable characters, and I loved witnessing their inner battles, discovery of self, healing, and personal growth. In addition, I greatly enjoyed the time period and setting; I thought Karen Cox did marvelous job of capturing the tone and social climate of this revolutionary era. And lastly, I loved that this book made me feel like I was on an emotional journey with the characters – experiencing their joyful highs and despairing lows, engaging me in such a way that I would frequently laugh, sigh, and feel tears well up in my eyes.
As you might guess, I most definitely enjoyed finding all the subtle connecting links to Pride and Prejudice peppered throughout this story. Billy Ray’s got Darcy written all over him with his reserved manner, fastidious nature, and responsible demeanor. And although Lizzy Quinlan’s got a bad reputation and prickly temperament, she puts one in mind of Elizabeth Bennet with her spiritedness, independent attitude, and penchant for teasing. Other recognizable personalities include Miss Bingley, Lydia Bennet, Mr. Bennet, and Mrs. Gardiner – all who I greatly enjoyed. I also loved spotting the clever inclusions of familiar Pride and Prejudice events like the overheard insult, refused proposal, sister in need of rescue, and truth-bearing letter.
I was utterly charmed and enthralled by this novel! Having read the other two superb Austenesque novels by Karen Cox, I knew I could expect a high-caliber story rich with dynamic characters, intelligent insights, and evocative prose. At the Edge of the Sea is a poignant and expressive love story that should not be missed! I highly recommend!
*Because of the inclusion of a few intimate scenes, I’d recommend this book for Mature Audiences only.