Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Note: The Colonel is a companion novel to the soul-stirring Pride and Prejudice retelling, Longbourn’s Songbird, but since this story revisits events from the past it can be read as a stand alone. (However, we do recommend you read LS for full context and understanding.)
In Longbourn’s Songbird, Beau North not only takes the beloved characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and transplants them to the Deep South, post World War II, but she recreates their history and their paths. Richard Fitzwilliam is still the charismatic and charming colonel that has been to war, but as we learn in Longbourn’s Songbird, he has suffered trials, disappointments, and heart-wrenching pain. In The Colonel, which is set in the year 2002, we learn what happened to our dear colonel after 1950. Richard’s story is unfolded and discovered by his son Ben, who, after surviving the events of 9/11 has made some changes in his life and has returned to his family home. It is there he finds the many unknown truths of his father’s life…
This skillfully-crafted dual storyline that portrays love in all its forms, intensities, and meanings is in every way remarkable. While the narrative asserts that “this isn’t a love story,” love or the searching for love is the focal foundation of every storyline in this tale. Love that is rejected, love that is lost, love that is kept secret, love that is new, love between family, love between friends – whether it develops slowly or quickly, smoothly or painfully, this book discerningly depicts some unvarnished realities about love. Similar to Jane Austen, Beau North demonstrates that she too has a keen understanding of human nature and is in tune with the workings of her characters’ hearts.
Aside from her astute perception and the continuation of her expertly developed setting and backdrop, the area where Beau North’s talent shines brightest is her character development. Whether it is a recreation of a Jane Austen or character or an entirely new original character, each character is brilliantly rendered, thoughtfully fleshed-out, and dynamic. Even though it is one of the most anguish-filled portrayals of Richard Fitzwilliam I’ve ever read, this may very well be my favorite representation of him. He felt so wonderfully real – his hurts, his flaws, his soul, I feel like I know each so intimately, and I fell in love with him in so many ways and for a myriad of new reasons.
In truth, I felt that way about all the characters in this story. Darcy, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Anne, Georgiana – seeing what they experienced, learning about what struggles they faced, I felt like I was a part of their lives in this tale. I am so appreciative for the inclusion of all these characters and their continued storylines (I especially loved seeing more of Anne, Charlotte, and Georgiana). In addition, I adored Ms. North’s original creations Ben, Maggie, Tom, and Keisha. (Ben was just as lovable as Richard.)
Poignant and powerful, The Colonel is a mesmerizing story about life and love. This emotionally turbulent journey is one that will hold you enthrall, pierce your soul, and claim your heart. I am fearful my review doesn’t do justice to this eminently moving and phenomenally constructed tale, but read it for yourself and you will understand some of my awe and fervent admiration.
2nd Note: Due to the use of profanity, mild violence, and adult situations, I’d recommend this story for Mature Audiences.