Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF NOVEL: Prequel to Emma, Alternate POV
TIME FRAME: Begins 12 years before Jane Austen’s Emma
SERIES: Book 3 in the Highbury Trilogy (Book 1: Mrs. Bates of Highbury – introduces the Bates women soon after the death of Reverend Bates 30 years ago, Book 2: The Other Miss Bates – follows Jane Bates to Brighton where she serves as a companion and meets some familiar families) I would recommend reading each of these books in order even though they are standalone.
Both Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill experience the untimely and tragic passing of their mothers at a young age. And both are sent to be raised by other families. The good Colonel Campbell and his wife willingly provide education, comfort, affection, and companionship to young Jane when she is eight years of age, and Frank is taken in by his childless Aunt and Uncle Churchill. While Jane’s childhood is one of luxury and leisure, she knows that the Campbells cannot provide a dowery for her and that one day she must find a post as a governess. In contrast, Frank is made the Churchill’s heir and will one day inherit Enscombe and be in possession of vast wealth. But as Frank learns, this privilege comes at a very dear price…
WHAT I LOVED:
- Jane Fairfax: Here we learn about the real Jane Fairfax – not the one who is reserved, secretive, and seemingly a picture of perfection. In this story Jane is a worthy heroine who has a playful sense of humor, a determination to be independent, and an unparalleled selfless nature. It was interesting to see her character develop during her formative years amongst the Campbells, witness her first encounters with Mr. Dixon and Frank Churchill, and see the events of Emma from her perspective. The depictions of her thoughts and emotions throughout all she endured were wonderfully palpable, and I very much enjoyed Ms. Cresswell’s sympathetic and insightful portrayal of Jane.
- Answers All Our Questions: There are so many questions surrounding Jane and Frank in Emma. How could two people with such dissimilar natures fall in love? How did Jane come to agree to a secret engagement? What was their time like in Weymoth? Was their truly something between Mr. Dixon and Jane? They are all answered in Dear Jane. All these questions and more are given such thoughtful and satisfying explanations.
- Frank Churchill: With his seemingly capricious nature, neglect towards his father, and careless flirtation with Emma, Frank Churchill doesn’t earn himself many admirers. But perhaps there is a reason for Frank’s behaviors. Perhaps he is suffering, miserable, and cannot escape. In this story readers witness what it is like to be in Frank’s shoes and understand the reasons behind his actions. Seeing him engage in questionable morals because of his hopeless situation felt a little reminiscent of Charlotte Brontë’s Edward Rochester. I no longer think of Frank as immature and careless, instead I see he is man with a difficult and unfair past, desperate to obtain the happiness that is within his reach.
- Scrupulous Correlation: Ms. Cresswell continues to seamlessly and carefully tie-in her stories to every event and detail in Jane Austen’s Emma – big or small. I marveled at Ms. Cresswell’s creativity and skill, and I loved that there were footnotes that helped delineate the connect or relationship to scenes and events in other books. These tie-ins never felt forced or redundant, and I applaud Ms. Cresswell for never resorting to copying sections of Jane Austen’s dialogue and transplanting into her own work
- Highbury: There is an abundance of history and dimension added to Jane Austen’s beloved Highbury in this series. Readers become acquainted with many new families – the Winwoods, the Pailings, and the Moselys, which bring fresh diversion and interest to an already charming pastoral place. One of things I loved most about this trilogy was learning even more about the day-to-day life and experiences of the inhabitants of dear Highbury and watching the slow, but exciting changes, that take place over the course of a few generations.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
That this is the end of the trilogy! Please say you will write more, Allie Cresswell!!
Lovingly-crafted and brilliantly executed Dear Jane (and the Highbury Trilogy) is an outstanding companion and tribute to Jane Austen’s Emma. Rich with comprehensive detail, thoughtful developments, and emotive prose – this series truly makes one feel like they have traveled to Highbury and have become one of ‘Highbury’s own.’ I emphatically recommend!
Allie Cresswell is kindly giving away 1 ebook copy of Dear Jane in conjunction with this blog tour!! Woot woot!
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- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Allie!
- This giveaway ends May 30th!