Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
It truly is difficult to decide what I love most about Yuletide: A Jane Austen Inspired Collection of Stories. Is it the fact that it’s a 7-in-1 Jane Austen/Christmas inspired collection? Is it the diverse slants of each story that are written in both the Regency period and modern times? Is it the continued collaboration of favorite authors and a most talented editor? Is it knowing that the proceeds from this anthology are being generously donated to Chawton Great House. Or is it for all these reasons combined together?!? Yep, going with that last one!
Since there were only 7 stories, I thought I’d give a little breakdown. I hope you find it helpful:
THE FORFEIT – Caitlin Williams (variation)
- The Premise: Mr. Darcy is snowbound in Meryton and Elizabeth begrudgingly invites him to stay at Longbourn until the snow clears.
- What I Loved: Seeing Mr. Darcy interact with the Bennets in close quarters for long periods of time! LOL! And also: the wager made between Elizabeth and Darcy, their new understandings, and Mrs. Bennet’s erroneous assumptions! One of my faves!
AND EVERMORE BE MERRY – Joana Starnes (sequel)
- The Premise: From Georgiana’s prospective we witness the Christmas celebrations at Pemberley several years after the close of Pride and Prejudice.
- What I Loved: Seeing such festive joy at Pemberley – snowball fights, bullet pudding, snap dragon, and singing. Such warmth and merriment! But also brilliantly tempered with some past reflections on a period of discord and how it resolved.
THE WISHING BALL – Amy D’Orzaio (modern)
- The Premise: Through some inexplicable Christmas magic Will Darcy sees various scenes of a possible future.
- What I Loved: Christmas magic!!! The scenes and “memories” Will sees are so moving and beautifully described. I loved seeing his reaction when he meets Elizabeth, how the Wishing Ball knew all, and how the Wishing Ball continued to play an important role in their lives. One of my faves!
BY A LADY – Lona Manning (sequel)
- The Premise: The Darcys visit Rosings for Christmastide and Elizabeth is determined to befriend Anne de Bourgh.
- What I Loved: That Elizabeth reflected on her past behavior towards Anne de Bourgh and wished to rectify it. I also loved that Anne has a secret – and such an interesting one too! This story ended with a promise of something more, and I like to imagine the new possibilities for Anne!
HOMESPUN FOR THE HOLIDAYS – J. Marie Croft (modern)
- The Premise: F. William Darcy has some difficulties with the locals of Meryton as he tries to buy a one-of-a-kind homemade item his sister desperately wants.
- What I Loved: Homespun and Meryton! I want to visit/live there! Ms. Croft created such an endearing yet authentic atmosphere with this tale. I loved all the descriptions of the characters, décor, and various homespun items. Not to mention the simmering attraction between Darcy and Elizabeth and the puns!! So clever! One of my faves!
THE SEASON OF FRIENDLY MEETINGS – Anngela Schroeder (variation)
- The Premise: Elizabeth makes the acquaintance of Colonel Fitzwilliam while spending Christmastide with Mrs. Long and her nieces in Yorkshire.
- What I Loved: The frank conversations between Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam, and how very adept he is at steering their conversation and strategically forcing Elizabeth to analyze her previous judgments! Clever, smooth, and sympathetic Colonel Fitzwilliam is the hero of this story for sure!
MISTLETOE MANAGEMENT – Elizabeth Adams (sequel)
- The Premise: Married just one month, the Darcys host some of Mr. Darcy’s family (no Lady C) for the holidays where some matchmaking and mischief ensue!
- What I Loved: Seeing Elizabeth employ some matchmaking manipulations like her mother…lol! And speaking of manipulations…it was hilarious to see Darcy and Elizabeth with their hands full of misbehaving guests! Also, I loved how, even though this story is brief in page count, so much happens and it never felt underdeveloped or rushed.
With seven short stories inspired by the same novel, involving many of the same characters, and featuring the same holiday season, you may expect these stories to blend together or feel a tad similar. But they do just the opposite – like snowflakes, each story of this collection is wonderfully unique and distinctly beautiful! And the whole collection together is an enchanting and exquisite Christmas scene that truly is a generous gift to all!
*All proceeds to benefit Chawton Great House in Hampshire, former manor of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight and now the Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.