Apr 262019
 

Fleshing Out the Histories of Jane Fairfax’s and Frank Churchill’s Parents!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

The Other Miss Bates, book two in Allie Cresswell’s Highbury Series – a series that spotlights the Bates family and tells a bit of their history before the events of Jane Austen’s Emma – recommences with following Jane Bates (Hetty Bates’s younger sister) on her adventures abroad (which take place 30 years before Emma). Jane Bates has always longed to see the world and escape the confines of Highbury. Even though her years in such bucolic surroundings amongst friendly denizens were happy ones, Jane wants to continue expanding her knowledge of the world and experience new places. Because of the Bates’s financial circumstances, the only way for Jane to achieve her goals is through employment, which she gladly seizes upon when her uncle arranges for her to serve as companion to an invalid widow who lives in Brighton.

Jane’s employer, Mrs. Sealy, is a young widow confined to a wheelchair, but because of her charming personality, youthful vigor, and late husband’s position in the Navy, she is an active and popular participant in the Brighton social scene. And so while in Brighton Jane is able to enjoy society a little and make friends amongst other families that are residing nearby such as the Fairfaxes and the Churchills. Other acquaintances Jane encounters are her uncle, Captain Bates, who she meets for the first time, Arthur Sealy, Mrs. Sealy’s stepson who is bitterly dissatisfied with his reduced inheritance, and Lieutenant Weston, who Jane thinks of with some affection and attachment…

There is so much that I am loving about this thoughtful and wonderfully executed series. Similar to with Mrs. Bates of Highbury, I adore Ms. Cresswell’s perceptive characterizations, minute attention to detail, and reverence towards Jane Austen’s original story. In these prequels she does not set out to alter anything or anyone from Emma, instead she fabricates logical and believable past experiences that seamlessly flow into Jane Austen’s creations. I loved the unique developments Ms. Cresswell explores with these characters, she never goes with the most obvious or simple route.

It was especially fascinating to witness Ms. Cresswell’s characterizations for characters we only hear or know little about in Emma such as the Churchills – Mr. and Mrs Churchill (who later become Frank’s adopted parents) and Miss Louisa Churchill (who eventually becomes Frank’s mother). Such a dynamic group of personalities! Wow! I can see where Frank gets some of his impetuousness and carelessness from! And it was lovely to encounter the Fairfaxes – and see how Angus Fairfax became acquainted with Captain Campbell.

But perhaps what I loved most about this book is Jane Bates, who matures into such a steady and admirable heroine. Her selfless actions, quietly-nurtured hopes, and keen perceptions easily earn the reader’s regard. I appreciated her loyalty towards those she loves and her rational expectations – she isn’t one to let her dreams and desires rule her behavior. I took great pleasure in witnessing Jane experience and learn from the travails and emotional challenges she faces in this story.

If you love Austenesque stories that focus on developing the lives of secondary characters, I entreat you to give this remarkable series a try. Even if you are not the fondest of Emma, or the Bates family in particular, these discerning stories can be appreciated for their insightful creativity, compelling prose, and praiseworthy execution.

Note: This is the second book in Allie Cresswell’s Highbury Series. It is a standalone book, but I would recommend reading the first book – Mrs. Bates of Highbury – prior to reading this one.

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***Both Mrs. Bates of Highbury and The Other Miss Bates are being offered for the low price of $1.50 at the moment. Which I think is a sale price because Dear Jane, the third book in this series, is about to be released!! Do yourself a favor and treat yo’ shelf (ereader) to this lovely series!

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  12 Responses to “The Other Miss Bates – Allie Cresswell”

  1.  

    Thanks for sharing your review! I already bought the first book based on your review, and now, with the sale, may need to get this one as well! Books developing secondary characters but staying true to the originals are usually favorites with me, and it’s good to see the world of Highbury getting this treatment. 🙂

    •  

      My pleasure, Reina! I’m happy to hear that you are interested in these lovely stories! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Highbury!!

  2.  

    I enjoyed a lot your first review and I see the second one sounds very charming too!. I can’t wait to read these trilogy. How I like to keep finding so many inspiring stories! 😉

  3.  

    I don’t know why I procrastinate about such things, but I’ve got both these books and just need to get busy and read them. I do enjoy seeing thoughtful and careful development of secondary characters and to see backgrounds developed for even characters who were mentioned in passing all the while staying true to the spirit of the original.
    Great review, Meredith!

    •  

      Oooh! I hope you can read them soon, my friend! They ended up being quick reads for me since I didn’t want to put them down! 🙂

      I can’t wait to hear what you think!!

  4.  

    I’ve had book 1 in my TBR pile since 9/18 (although it’s in reeeeally good company.) 😉 And now since this review (excellent as always) I have book two on that pile too. Nudging me. The sale helps, that’s lovely. So I’m now eager to dig in! I wish Ms. Cresswell the best on her books in this series and future writings.

    Also, I’ve read some very good JAFF giving Miss Bates her own story and I’ve come to appreciate her more than ever. Austen uses her as a character type and a plot device, so when first reading or watching film productions I just took her at face value. Although of course I felt horrid about Emma’s treatment of her at the ridiculous taunting by Frank Churchill, she still comes off in the way Austen meant her to. A creature of annoyance and pity. But ALSO (I think) as a statement of fact regarding society’s humbled members, and women who are alone. Maybe that’s putting too much of a 21st Century spin on it, but isn’t that what we are all doing when we analyze and reinvent, rewrite etc., her works so much.

    Sooooo….off my soapbox before I really go off on that tangent, I’m more and more willing to explore sets of characters from the works we love (the most or the least depending on who you are) who were relegated to the sidelines or backgrounds in our dear Jane’s works. I wish I could italicize here…..Especially….after reading Rational Creatures.

    •  

      How nice that it is good company. 😉 I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts, Michelle! You must tell me how you like them!

      I love seeing Jane Austen’s characters and stories reinvented or looking at them differently. Wouldn’t it be so fun to share our ideas with the authoress herself, I’d love to know what she thinks of them!

      Oh yes, with Rational Creatures there were some incredible stories that were beyond creative and gave us readers plenty to think about!!

  5.  

    I find it very interesting and wonder at how such minor characters draw the attention of authors. Delightful that this neglected person is now gaining some interest. Your review alone would make me read this. So thanks for sharing.

  6.  

    Thank you Meredith for this great review and thank you to those who have responded with such enthusiasm. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the series when you’ve read it all

    •  

      My pleasure, Allie! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful series with us! I cannot tell you how happy I am that you are giving attention to this dear family!

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