Apr 182010

Three Amusing and Enlightening Tales About Mrs. Elton!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

In Emma, Mrs. Augusta Elton is portrayed as vulgar, ill-mannered, pretentious, and obnoxious. However, a lot of what see of Mrs. Elton is through the eyes of Emma Woodhouse, and she may have been a little too prejudiced and eager to find fault. True, Mrs. Elton does tend to think a little too highly of herself and her manners are not very genteel, but she does possess some good qualities, such as her good intentions towards Jane Fairfax and her overtures of friendship with Emma. Jane Austen is very skillful at creating satirical and exasperating characters, and Mrs. Elton is without a doubt one of her finest creations! Diana Birchall must be of this mind set too because she has crafted three lovely novellas about the presumptuous and insufferable Augusta Elton.
The Compleat Mrs. Elton by Diana Birchall is a collection of three novellas in one book. Here is a brief synopsis of each novella followed by my thoughts: Continue reading »

Feb 162010

A Visit to Pemberley 25 Years After Pride and Prejudice

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

Unlike the plethora of Pride and Prejudice sequels that begin immediately or soon after Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma by Diana Birchall uniquely opens twenty-five blissful and flourishing years into the Darcy’s marriage. Throughout the past quarter of a century Darcy and Elizabeth have had little to disturb their happy marriage and are now the proud parents of three grown children. Fitzwilliam, the older son and heir to Pemberley, perhaps inspires more anxiety than pride since he doesn’t show as much aptitude for managing an estate as he does horses and racing. Henry, the younger son who is intending to be ordained soon, takes after his mother with his intelligence, compassion, and quick wit. Jane, the youngest in the family, has just turned seventeen and is preparing for her coming out into society.

The Wickham’s, unfortunately, have not experienced a joyful and successful life these past twenty-five years. George Wickham now spends his days and his money imbibing alcohol, leaving Lydia to manage and care for eight children. Lydia, despondent and wretched over the fate of her two eldest daughters, petitions the Darcy’s for assistance, resulting in an invitation for Bettina, 20, and Chloe, 17, to stay at Pemberley. Knowing that their own children could use a little more society and fresh conversation, the Darcy’s happily anticipate the arrival of the two eldest Misses Wickhams. Their only fear is that their sons may become romantically attached to these fair young cousins, but that occurrence is highly improbable…or is it?

One of things I enjoyed most about this charming sequel was the focus on the Darcy and Wickham children. These new characters, crafted by Diana Birchall, were interesting, diverse, and a fitting addition to the Pride and Prejudice populace. I especially liked Henry, he reminded me a lot of Henry Tilney with his kindness and teasing. I’m afraid I wasn’t too fond of Fitzwilliam though; you would think that since he respected and regarded his father so highly he would try to emulate him more. Instead he avoids his responsibilities and behaves quite vulgar and unabashed; I would like to think Mr. Darcy would raise his son to be better. Continue reading »