Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Do you find Colonel Brandon romantic? Do you sometimes think he is better suited for Elinor than Marianne? Do you think he fell in love with Marianne because she resembles Eliza? Perhaps you’d like to get to know Colonel Brandon a little better and discover the answer for these questions yourself… If you are unfamiliar with this series, it is the retelling of Jane Austen’s novels from the perspective of the male hero. No, it isn’t all new and original material, but there is much understanding to gain by hearing the same story from another person’s point-of-view. In Colonel Brandon’s Diary, Amanda Grange brings us new insight and comprehension for the seemingly silent and grave Colonel Brandon. In addition, she illustrates a heartrending backstory of his tragic love affair with his father’s ward, Eliza.
As a young man studying law at Oxford University, James Brandon is looking forward to only one thing on his holiday from school, and that is spending time with his beloved Eliza. He anticipates spending hours in her company, basking in their love for each other, and discussing future plans of marriage together. When his father announces that Eliza is to marry his libertine and alcoholic brother, James desperately seeks for a way to save Eliza from this fate and unsuccessfully attempts to elope with her. Unfortunately, James is unable to stop the marriage and in his anguish decides the best course for him is to join the army and leave England.
Fourteen years later Brandon returns to England and inherits Delaford since his father and brother have both passed away. The only family he has remaining is Eliza’s orphaned daughter, also named Eliza, who spends most of her time away in a boarding school. Colonel Brandon takes on the position of estate owner with adroitness and determination, and he works on restoring and improving Delaford and the land surrounding it to its former state before his mother died. He establishes a nice quiet life for himself with friends, tenants, and a ward. Yet this quiet life of his he will soon discover is not complete…
Having read all the other books in this series, I was very eager to read Colonel Brandon’s Diary. Although Sense and Sensibility is not my most favorite Austen novel and Colonel Brandon is not my most favorite hero, I was looking forward to seeing him in a new light and acquiring a new sense of appreciation for him. Ms. Grange did not disappoint, just like with Captain Wentworth’s Diary, she created a viable and enlightening history for Colonel Brandon. I was delighted that she spent one third of the book outlining his life prior to meeting Marianne Dashwood, and I took pleasure in witnessing the emotional and poignant journey he experienced as a youth and observing how it impacted his character.
In Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon is portrayed as a quiet and unassuming hero, not a dashing, passionate, and Byronic hero like Willoughby. However, after reading Colonel Brandon’s Diary, the reader will conceive that Colonel Brandon, with his strong character, devotion, patience, and yearning for Marianne is one of the most romantic heroes Jane Austen created. I enjoyed the accurate characterization of Colonel Brandon as well as the seamless integration of Sense and Sensibility with Ms. Grange’s original material. Ms. Grange always approaches Jane Austen’s novels and characters respectfully and knowledgeably and I admire her creativity and perception. My only wish is that she would dig deeper into these characters, tell their story a little more leisurely with more specifics and details.