Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
(Note: Potential readers should be made aware that this novel is a sequel to Emma and Elizabeth, and while it is standalone, more pleasure may be derived from reading Emma and Elizabeth prior to this work.)
In her second Austen-inspired novel, Ann Mychal brings us back again – twenty years later – to the dear friends we encountered and fell in love with before in her brilliant continuation of The Watsons – Emma and Elizabeth. In Brinshore, we find these two devoted sisters happy in their respective marriages and enjoying their roles as mothers and wives. Both Emma and Elizabeth have nineteen-year-old daughters, and both daughters are granted the splendid opportunity to spend their summer with their Aunt Harding at her new home she purchased in the incomparable seaside town of Brinshore!
Anne Musgrave (quiet, gentle, and passionate about nature) is very eager to see, explore, and make sketches of this new locale and all the interesting fossils, shells, and seaweed she finds there. Emma Osbourne (outspoken, self-assured, and opinionated) is only able to derive pleasure in this plan because she knows Captain Blake (her childhood friend and the man she has secretly given her heart to) will be spending his summer in Sanditon which is just three miles from Brinshore.
While in Brinshore, readers encounter the amicable and admirable Captain Charles Blake and his friend Mr. Henry Fitzroy, who just inherited a home in Sanditon (and is a person Emma finds most ill-mannered and contemptible). The meetings and interactions between these characters are exciting and engrossing to witness as the reader can observe and learn that: Captain Blake’s affections may not lie in the direction Emma believes they do, Mrs. Harding is as enthusiastic about promoting and advancing Brinshore as Mr. Parker is about Sanditon, and Henry Fitzroy has impeccable taste in literature! 😉 What delights and diversions await us in Brinshore, dear readers!
The characters in this story are an endearing and entertaining mix. Emma is a flawed heroine who is misguided in her notions and blind in her perceptions (sounds like another Emma we know, doesn’t it?). In the first half of the book she was sometimes difficult to like, but later on her redeeming qualities shine through. Mrs. Turner (Emma’s aunt) and the Dowager Lady Osbourne often steal the spotlight with their quips and habit of making friendly insults towards each other, (reminded me of Violet and Isobel Crawley!) And I quite enjoyed seeing Lord Osbourne and Tom Musgrave engage in some sport of wagers, as well as what happened when others discovered what they were betting on! It is obvious that Ann Mychal is an author who loves and is fascinated by her characters and their stories; and I think that is what helps her skillfully capture the essence of Jane Austen in these novels.
It truly is difficult to pinpoint what I love most about this novel and Ann Mychal’s writing! I love that she is shining a spotlight on Jane Austen’s unfinished works, I appreciated all the allusions and subtle nods to Jane Austen’s other works and characters, and I greatly enjoyed her manifestation of Brinshore! In this novel, the seaside resort is one of the main characters – it is living, evolving, and constantly competing to be better than its detested rival, Sanditon! Circulating libraries, resident physicians, spas, and buns – I loved witnessing the development and incessant promotion between these two fictional towns!
And to put the cherry on top of this rich and delectable sundae, Ms. Mychal effectively ties the end of her story together with a perfectly elegant little bow that cannot help but fill the reader with an abundance gratification and joy. I greatly adore and admire both Emma and Elizabeth and Brinshore, and I heartily recommend them to readers looking for enchanting stories and endearing characters very much in the style of Jane Austen. Ann Mychal is definitely an author to keep your eye on!