Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
While Pride and Prejudice variations are in plentiful supply with dozens of new releases coming out each month, stories inspired by Jane Austen’s other novels are a bit more rare. Especially stories that are variations (not sequels or modern adaptations). As an ardent reader of variations (I love wondering ‘what if?’), I was most excited to see that Virginia Kohl’s debut release was a variation on Sense and Sensibility (so unique, right?)! And I loved learning that with this variation, quite a significant change takes place. True Love Comes to Delaford story poses the question: What if Colonel Brandon’s and Elinor Dashwood’s easy camaraderie and growing mutual respect and admiration for each other developed into something more?
It may be blasphemous of me to admit it, but sometimes I find myself a little dissatisfied with Elinor Dashwood’s fate at the end of Sense and Sensibility – even though Edward has some good qualities, I do sometimes feel Elinor deserved better. I know there are some who may agree with that sentiment – after all how many readers are naming Edward Ferrars as one of their top favorite Austen heroes? In addition, there are some readers who feel some dissatisfaction with Colonel Brandon’s and Marianne’s happily-ever-after. Whether it be because of the age difference or because we never see Marianne’s developed romantic feelings for Brandon on page. Will readers feel more satisfied with these characters’ fates when they become romantically intertwined with each other…?
First of all, brava to Virginia Kohl for having the courage to pen such a daring alteration! I’m so glad she did this because it was absolutely lovely to see more of Colonel Brandon as an ardent and romantic hero! I loved seeing how, despite his intentions to forever remain a bachelor, he fell in love. His kind actions, sweet surprises, and fervent protection of Elinor warmed my heart and made me fall in love with him as well! I especially enjoyed Colonel Brandon’s relationship with Margaret – and seeing their shared interests and Colonel Brandon’s special name for her. We so need more Colonel Brandon stories in the Austenesque genre! Discerning readers will recognize a lot of Alan Rickman in Ms. Kohl’s portrayal of Colonel Brandon, which, since I’m a fan of both Alan Rickman and the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, I didn’t mind! 😉
While I adored the chance to see a relationship develop between Elinor and Colonel Brandon, I did find myself a little less fond of some other character portrayals and developments in this variation. The biggest alteration was with Marianne’s character, who is mean-spirited and perhaps even more insolent and thoughtless than Lydia Bennet! Sadly, there was no redeeming qualities in this Marianne and I found her heartlessness disappointing. I missed seeing a sisterly bond between Elinor and Marianne, and seeing how two diverse sisters with opposite natures can still care deeply about each other. I believe Ms. Kohl chose to portray Marianne (and Edward) a little more disagreeable in order to support her premise, but at the same time I think her premise would still be believable even with Marianne and Edward portrayed in a more favorable light. However, I do give the author kudos for coming up with such creative consequences for these duo’s actions!
Other than that main quibble, there were a few other instances that raised my eyebrow, such as Willoughby’s odd manner of talking and Colonel Brandon’s urgent trips to London which are never explained. But overall, I found myself delighted with this inventive Sense and Sensibility variation. I appreciated the new character additions, the sweet moments of devotion shared between Elinor and Colonel Brandon, and the chance to explore this different pairing! I do wonder if Jane Austen ever toyed with the idea herself!
Note: While it isn’t mentioned in the book’s description, there are mentions of faith, prayer, and religion in this variation.