Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Set in the historic Old West, Paint and Play is a charming and comical tale about two contrasting sisters and their mother’s trials in trying to find them suitable husbands. Cadence is sensible, serious, and more inclined to read a good book than attend a dinner party. Florence is effervescent, unbridled, romantic, and not as rational as her sister. Their mother, Mrs. Hudson, is much preoccupied with marrying off her talented and beautiful daughters, and their father wishes for nothing more than a peaceful and quiet home.
Does some of this sound familiar? If you’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility you may recognize some character parallels… Cadence and Florence share some personality traits with Elinor and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility and Mr. and Mrs. Hudson’s marriage very much resembles that of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet! Isn’t that a fun combination!
While this story is not heavy with Jane Austen’s influence, I would definitely consider it Austenesque. Besides the character parallels, Paint and Piano includes several central themes that are typically prominent in Jane Austen’s novels: marrying for love, the relationship between sisters, and the importance of learning life lessons. I greatly enjoyed Ms. Williamson’s characters – especially Mr. and Mrs. Hudson. Mrs. Hudson rambling speeches and her incessant fretting about marrying off her daughters seemed to be the perfect blend of Mrs. Bennet and Miss Bates, and I just loved Mr. Hudson’s dry wit and sarcastic remarks! Moreover, secondary characters, like the gossiping Mrs. Darby or the rambunctious Hudson boys, were well-crafted and vastly entertaining additions to the story!
I took much pleasure in following Florence and Cadence as they experienced their heartbreaks and happinesses. Both heroines are admirable, wholesome, and engaging characters. However, I wish more of the story was told from their point-of-view and that the audience was privy to more of their internal thoughts and feelings. I sort of felt that too much of the focus was on Mrs. Hudson – and unfortunately, like Mrs. Bennet, she is a character best tolerated in small doses! I would have liked to have seen more page time for Florence and Cadence in this novel.
About a year ago I had the good fortune to read another novel by Kerri Bennett Williamson by the title of Sensing Jane Austen. As you may guess, Sensing Jane Austen also has some parallels with Sense and Sensibility. Both stories by Ms. Williamson are charming, innocent, and diverting! Although I greatly enjoyed the cleverness and comedy of Paint and Piano, Sensing Jane Austen remains my favorite by this author!