Vintage Jane Austen Mini-Reviews + Sarah Scheele Interview + Giveaway!

The Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event is running this week (November 5 – 11) and features a giveaway, reviews, interviews, and more, for this lovely series of stand-alone retellings of Jane Austen’s classic works retold in a 1930s American setting. There is one yet to release, coming soon, but the other five are all available in ebook and paperback now!

For the tour today, I’m excited to have Sarah Scheele (author of the Mansfield Park retelling, Bellevere House) here for a quick interview!

I’m also spotlighting each of the Vintage Jane Austen books below with some mini reviews. 🙂

And when you finish reading, be sure to scroll down the whole way and enter the giveaway!

First, a little bit about the talented author I’m interviewing…

Sarah Scheele scribbled incessantly as soon as she could read and write. A heavy background—some might say an overdose—of literature during her childhood set writing into a loop she has yet to escape. That education in classics gave birth to several of her stories, including a rewrite of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park for this collection. She used to wonder why Edmund and Fanny couldn’t have a better resolution?—and so she decided to give them one. Today she does many things with her time. But then she writes, which is the most important thing to mention in an author’s biography. Sarah lives on a farm in Texas with a ladylike cat and a tomboyish Pomeranian.

Visit Sarah Scheele online at her Website, Blog, and Facebook Page

Interview with Author Sarah Scheele

1. What was your favorite part of writing Bellevere House?

Probably the adaptation of the Bertram’s theatricals into renting the house to various people while the Sir Thomas character (Uncle Warren) is away. I didn’t want to have the characters simply do a more recent play among themselves, so I tried to choose something that could get them into lots of trouble in the same kind of way. That area was written early and never changed much because it’s kind of a short story on its own, apart from the bulk of the remake.

2. That was a hilarious part! 🙂 Do you have a favorite book (and/or character) by Jane Austen, and why?

Hmmm…Northanger Abbey, maybe. The abbey is a fascinating set and as a little kid I actually wrote my own version of Mrs. Radcliffe’s Udolpho (since I hadn’t read the original) pulling names and scraps of detail from things mentioned in NA. And for second favorite, Emma’s a really fun character. It’s hard to show those flawed people so we aren’t soft on them but we also see their point of view. I like watching Emma movies more than reading the book, though—and the opposite for NA.

3. Can you tell us a little about your other available books and what you’re currently writing?

It’s funny because they’re mostly fantasy with literally no bearing on this VJA thing. Victoria: A Tale of Spain is historical, but it’s based on Snow White and started as a fantasy story. I also have a set of five short stories, called Facets of Fantasy, and a children’s sci-fi novel. Getting Bellevere finished was a pretty involving process, so I’m just brainstorming new things at this point. Currently I’m doing an urban fantasy–like a western, but with Elves and dragons.

4. Ooh, I’m intrigued! Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Instinct, mostly. I’ll admit I’m not one of those all about the craft writers, though I would say I take it seriously. But I don’t have much of a method. I just find things everywhere and save them for later. Animals, pictures, a funny line from a TV show, anything I can imagine turning upside down and then taking it from there. It’s about possibilities. Like throwing on lots of different things and suddenly you’ve got an outfit.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors?

That’s a hard one because I tend to think in books, not authors. I might love one work by an author and never read—or like—another by that person again. But overall I’d say classics are always a good bet (currently I’m reading The Wind in the Willows) and for recent books I like almost anything about kids in our world who stumble on marvelous adventures. And comic stories with funny dragons in them. You just can’t beat a funny dragon if you want to get away from reality.

Yesss! I love dragons. Thanks so much for coming over to my blog for an interview! 🙂

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me.


And now for my…

Mini Reviews

One of my favorite things about the Vintage Jane Austen series is how individual and unique they are, different from each other but with those unifying threads of the Great Depression era and Jane Austen retellings. They fit together as a series so well, while at the same time being vastly different, with different styles and fresh outlooks from each separate author. They’ve all outdone themselves, and through the whole varied series I have enjoyed all of the books immensely!

I usually read fantasy novels, but I enjoy a Jane Austen or a historical from time to time, and these books are definitely worthy additions to the world of literature. They’re wonderful retellings of Jane Austen’s beloved works, and also lovely novels in their own right. 🙂 Below are some mini thoughts on each. (Please note I received free e-copies of these books for the purpose of writing my honest reviews.)

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma)

Sarah Holman retells Emma in this novel which I believe to be her best work yet. 🙂 I loved how it was able to keep all the plot threads tightly written together in a shorter space than the original, translated into the 1930s perfectly, and all while being fun, too! Fredrick Knight (the Mr. Knightley character) was my favorite thing about the novel (with a sort of Mr.-Knightley-crossed-with-Frank-Hardy-but-grown-up sort of vibe; yay for the ’30s), along with the so-fun banter and relationship between him and Emmeline. It was fantastic. 😀 There’s a strong Christian element as well.  I so enjoyed this book. ^_^ Emma fans, don’t miss this one!


Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility)

Kelsey Bryant writes an absolutely gorgeous YA retelling of Sense and Sensibility. The writing is beautiful, the research pristine — I was drawn completely into this story and 1930s Ohio/New York setting. It was captivating! Both sisters (Ellen and Marion Dashiell, the Dashwood sisters in this) were so well written, and all the characters were so vivid and likeable — except for the ones we weren’t supposed to like. 😉 Add some fabulous twists, an adorable romance or two ( ❤ ), some much-needed extra “screen” (page?) time for Everett (Edward’s character), and a thoughtful faith element, with a sprinkling of humor, and you have an utterly delightful retelling! ^_^ Definitely a favorite. 🙂


Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park)

You don’t really think of “fun” when you think of Mansfield Park, but this retelling by talented author Sarah Scheele flips that on its head. It’s written in such a witty, charming style, with many parts absolutely hilarious to read — and funny books are my favorite. 😀 A bit more of a re-imagining than a straight-up retelling, it runs away with the Mansfield Park story (which, though I liked the original book, I found Mansfield Park kind of depressing to read) and makes it a mostly-lighthearted romantic-comedy type story. It was so much fun! It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, with occasional more serious subjects. I liked the characters, the writing was awesome, and overall I just had a blast reading this one! 🙂


Perception by Emily Ann Benedict (Persuasion)

Emily Ann Benedict pens a sweet retelling of Persuasion, fitting the 1930s time-period like a glove. I loved how Abbey (Anne’s character) and Freddy (Wentworth’s character) and their roles fit so well with a post-WWI/Depression-era setting. Her once-wealthy family in decline due to the Depression, and him just out of the army after the war, as a journalist. I really liked the other characters too, and enjoyed “visiting” Boston and Cape Cod… The writing was of an elusive quality just right for the “feel”, and the book had one or two twists but was mostly a very faithful retelling of one of my favorite Austen novels. Yet another worthy addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series, which I continue to enjoy so much! ^_^


Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice)

Coming soon… A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice… set in 1930s Arizona.

This one isn’t out yet, but I’m very excited to read it when it releases! P&P is my favorite of Austen’s original novels, and I think this retelling is going to be amazing. 🙂 I can’t wait! ^_^


Second Impressions

What an absolutely sweet (and varied!) collection of retellings! I absolutely loved these little tales — all so unique, and either funny, touching, or just plain enjoyable. ^_^ Some are modern, others historical, or with a dash of kingdoms/light fantasy, and even a sci-fi story! Lovely Jane-Austen-esque gems by talented authors, this collection of stories is a wonderful addition to the Vintage Jane Austen series, and if you’re an Austen fan, you definitely need to give this sweet bundle of tales a try. Excuse me while I hug it. ❤

I’ll be sharing my full review of Second Impressions (including mini-reviews for each of the short stories in this collection) on my book blog tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂


More Links

You can find the VJA books on Goodreads HERE.

If you’d like to read my full reviews for these books, you can find them by clicking the covers below. 🙂

 


Tour Schedule

Visit these blogs during this week to find interviews, book reviews, and much more!

November 5

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11


Giveaway

As part of this special blogging event, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Enter to win HERE.

And don’t forget to check out www.vintagejaneausten.com if you’re curious about the series.


Thoughts? Share ’em below! Thanks for reading! 🙂

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The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson (Review)

Title: The Noble Servant

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Date read: June 6, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Christian / Historical Fiction / Romance / Fairytale Retelling (The Goose Girl)
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Pages: 312 (hardcover)
Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3 (or Thornbeck Forest, #3)
Fave character: Steffan
Source: BookLook Bloggers review program (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Notes: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher

My Review

Melanie Dickerson does it again! Another extremely enjoyable novel from a talented author. 🙂

I always enjoy Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale novels, and this one was especially enjoyable for some reason! 🙂 It’s the final book in the trilogy which began with The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and The Beautiful Pretender, and it tells the story of Magdalen, the friend of the heroine in The Beautiful Pretender, which I was very excited about. However, each of the books stands alone (aside from a few references/characters who reappear, which isn’t so important), so if you haven’t read the first two, you can definitely jump in on this one! 🙂

The Noble Servant is a retelling of The Goose Girl (with nods to The Prince and the Pauper as well), which is not a fairytale I’m as familiar with as some, although I know the general idea of the servant taking the place of her lady and forcing the heroine to become a servant tending to geese. I enjoyed the retelling aspect but likely didn’t pick up on as much of it as I might have if it was a different fairytale. But far from making it less enjoyable because of that, I actually enjoyed it immensely because I had no idea what was going to happen!

I really liked our heroine, Lady Magdalen of Mallin, who was very sweet but capable; and I especially liked the hero, Steffan, Duke of Wolfburg, who was kind but heroic and noble, and had some great lines. They are both nobles who find themselves in servant roles outside Steffan’s castle, and there is a plot by Steffan’s uncle and all sorts of intriguing things. I loved how they both ended up servants for awhile, which was interesting to read about. My favorite thing about the story was probably Magdalen and Steffan. They were super cute together, too. 😉 I loved their dialog! Some of their discussions and times with the sheep and geese were my favorite parts of the novel. ^_^

I especially loved how Steffan really disliked the geese. XD You have a Goose Girl retelling, and the hero doesn’t like the geese the heroine is around because he’s scared of them. It. was. the. best. XD Steffan’s comments about the birds were my favorite. 😀

As always, I enjoyed the medieval German setting (Steffan had even been away studying in Prague! I loved that!), with the smattering of German words, and the castle and the woods and fields, and even a sight of the sea. It was overall lovely and a great setting and time-period. Also, I want to eat those stuffed rolls with bacon, potato, and sauerkraut in them—they made me so hungry. XD

It was exciting at times, and absorbing all throughout, and had a few surprise twists which I did not see coming! Especially with a few of the side characters surprising me. So that was neat. 🙂 Something about it felt a little different than Melanie Dickerson’s previous books, I felt, but not in a bad way. It was just… kind of new. 🙂 While still being slightly similar in a good and familiar way.

Like I said, I wasn’t ever sure what would happen next, and the writing was extremely well done, and kept me turning pages all throughout the book, eager to find out how our sweet heroine and dashing hero would get out of their predicaments, with God’s help, and maybe find a little love along the way. 😉 I couldn’t stop reading and was captivated until the final page.

I can’t think of anything specific that I disliked. Occasionally it gets very slightly exasperating how long it takes the hero and heroine to actually let on that they like each other and get over their worries about not being worthy etc., but that seems to be a classic romance theme, so oh well. 😛 And it didn’t annoy me as much as sometimes.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable story, which I quite liked. ^_^ I’d say that young adults and adults alike would enjoy this charming, sweet romance in medieval Germany, with a dash of retellings and Christianity, mistaken identities, lovable characters, and fun dialog about geese. 😀

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Favorite Quote

“Evil birds. What are they doing among my sheep?” He raised his arms. “Shoo, you cruel little beasties.”

About The Noble Servant

She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . .

if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson beautifully re-imagines The Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm into a medieval tale of adventure, loss, and love.

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, May 9, 2017

Links

Find the book on: Goodreads • Thomas Nelson • Barnes & Noble • Amazon • Author Website

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Vintage Jane Austen: Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Review)

The third novel in the Vintage Jane Austen series is now up for pre-order and is releasing this weekend, on June 17! 😀

This one is a retelling of Mansfield Park, and it’s called Bellevere House, by a talented author friend of mine, Sarah Scheele. I’m super excited. ^_^

In case you haven’t heard, the Vintage Jane Austen series is a collection of novels by different authors, retelling Jane Austen’s classic works in a new setting, a.k.a. the 1930s in America.

They are great fun so far and I hope you’ll give them a try! If you’re at all interested in historical fiction, Jane Austen, retellings, the ’30s, Christian fiction, well-written stories, etc. then you’re sure to enjoy them. 🙂

The books out so far in the series are:

And now on to my review! 🙂

My Review of Bellevere House

  • Title: Bellevere House
  • Author: Sarah Scheele
  • Date read: June 10, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
  • Age: YA (ish? I think the characters are more in their twenties so not exactly teens, but I’d say YA and up would enjoy this novel. :))
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 262
  • Series: Vintage Jane Austen, #3 (Each book is a standalone, by different authors.)
  • Fave character: Ed
  • Source: From the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are my own.

I quite enjoyed this book! 😀 I loved the humorous style and the banter. The characters were far from the unpleasantness level their counterparts achieved in the original book by Jane Austen, which means that Bellevere House wasn’t as depressing to read as Mansfield Park was, for me. XD

Comparing the two, Bellevere House is definitely more of a re-working/re-imagining than a straight-up retelling of Mansfield Park, but I actually really enjoyed that, and it was fun to pick out the changes and the way things were sometimes tipped on their heads, but all masterfully done. (One random but handy thing: the hero and heroine aren’t blood relatives, since Ed is the son of a previous marriage of Faye’s uncle; I know cousins married all the time back in Austen’s day, but it would’ve been slightly more problematic in a book about the ’30s. XD)

When I read Mansfield Park, I felt like it was something of a chore to get through (which I don’t usually feel about Austen’s works), exhausting and depressing. The light, skillful writing in this retelling made Bellevere House a pleasure to read; I zipped right through it and had a blast. 😀 They’re overall quite different books. Jane Austen’s original novel was an excellent book with many intriguing things to say, so I’m not saying either of these is better than the other (they’re so different it’s hard to compare), but due to the original’s depressing nature, I couldn’t enjoy Mansfield Park, the way I ended up enjoying this retelling of it. 🙂

Faye was a good main character, more strong-willed than her counterpart Fanny, and I liked Uncle Warren, and especially Ed and Jane Watson (more on them later). I didn’t care for Helene Carter (but I never cared for her counterpart in the original book) and I didn’t like Horace Carter either, and wasn’t sure what anyone saw in him, but… oh well. I didn’t loathe either of them the way I loathed the Crawfords, so that was less stressful, fortunately! 😛 There were a few times when Faye would think of a character a certain way and I disagreed with her and just didn’t SEE them that way. But overall the cast was quite an amusing bunch. XD

The setting was very well done, and even though there weren’t a lot of long descriptions, I felt entirely immersed in the 1930s in Illinois, Florida, and New York in turns. The description of New York City was particularly fantastic. I loved that bit! It was so vivid. (Although Faye did seem a little naive to act like nothing about the city could be dangerous.)

I find it fascinating how the Vintage Jane Austen books I’ve read so far have all been so different from each other, yet all equally delightful in different ways, and somehow fitting together as a series despite that, with their 1930s setting, Christian thread, and of course, connection to Jane Austen. 🙂 They’re so DIFFERENT but I still like them all!

One of my favorite things about this book is the style it’s written in—particularly the opening chapter, which just draws you in with this… how can I describe the style? It’s witty and humorous and kind of… I don’t know… chatty? I adore funny stories, and the writing in this is SO FUN. I can’t get over it! 😀 It just flows really easily and quickly and seemingly-effortlessly, and was a pleasure to read. 🙂

OTHER FAVORITE THINGS INCLUDE:

The mess that Grover made with his money-making scheme and how it ended. XD That entire part was such delightful (horrible) chaos and silliness, and the characters knew it, and it had me constantly on the verge of laughter. 😀 So funny!

Ed. (And Ed and Faye.) So, in a sense, there wasn’t as much of him as there could have been, and he’s actually rather different than the Edmund of the original (in a way), but I loved his character all the same. 😀 He was kind of egotistical at times (which was super amusing) but deep down a great guy, and he was just so fun to read, especially his parts with Faye. I loved them together, and they were a fun/adorable almost-romance even when they didn’t know they were a thing. 😀 He’s a little complicated and hard to analyze, which I’ve found my favorite characters are, so. There you are. 🙂

Favorite quotes about Ed:

He cracked his crooked smile that made all women swoon except the ones who wanted to slap him. Faye was a fence-sitter on the subject.

***

Ed frowned. “Well, it’s a terrible picture of me! Here, give me that. I’m going to tear it up. There ought to be legal action against publishing a bad picture like that without my permission . . . .”

A wild scuffle ensued as they tried to keep Ed from destroying the article before they could read it.

(Can you see why I like this funny book and this character? XD)

Jane Watson’s parts at the end were FABULOUS. Like… so so so fabulous. 😀 I absolutely loved those bits! When I first read it, I didn’t really like her, but she grew on me and now she’s one of my favorite things about the book. XD A very strong-minded journalist, she just makes such a striking appearance in the story. Many of her lines (as well as her article at the end) were simply gold. 😀

When she’s expounding on her time as a nurse in the Great War, recounting the horrors of the time and all she went through, and finishes with:

“And I’d have you know, through all of it, I still had perfect nails! Because I am completely swell.”

I JUST LOST IT. XD THE. BEST. (Can you tell she has a strong personality? XD)

And this fantastic quote from the news article by her, which was my favorite:

“We delude ourselves if we think that decency is not rewarded in other people simply because we refuse to practice it ourselves.”

CONCLUSION:

Sometimes it seemed sort of like a light-hearted romantic comedy, at times slipping in slightly deeper/darker topics or bits of Christianity, and the characters were all individual, many of them lovable, and well-written, and it was quite an enjoyable book! 🙂 Some of the story ended up rather differently than its original counterpart, particularly one character’s ending! I’m on the fence about how a couple of things turned out, but on the whole I’m happy with most of the ending. ^_^ (Definitely a happier book than the original. XD) I don’t read this genre much, so it’s not like my favorite book, but I’m giving it 5 stars anyway, just because I enjoyed it. 🙂

Overall, I had so. much. fun. reading this! 😀

Now I shall sigh that it’s over, and anxiously await the next Vintage Jane Austen book, because I’m quite addicted to these. XD

About Bellevere House

It’s March, 1937 . . .

And Faye Powell couldn’t be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she’s fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children—including Ed. The one she will never admit she’s in love with. But she hadn’t reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when her cousin BeBe suddenly trusts Faye with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye’s in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe’s given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to untangle Faye and Ed’s hearts.

Find the Book

Amazon • Goodreads

Author Bio

Sarah Scheele scribbled incessantly as soon as she could read and write. A heavy background—some might say an overdose—of literature during her childhood set writing into a loop she has yet to escape. That education in classics gave birth to several of her stories, including a rewrite of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park for this collection. She used to wonder why Edmund and Fanny couldn’t have a better resolution?—and so she decided to give them one. Today she does many things with her time. But then she writes, which is the most important thing to mention in an author’s biography. Sarah lives on a farm in Texas with a ladylike cat and a tomboyish Pomeranian.

You can connect with her online here:

Website • Blog • Facebook

 Thanks for reading! ^_^

I Return + Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant

Hey, everyone! I return! 🙂

(And if you didn’t notice I was gone, well… that’s either excellent news or… not. I leave you to decide. XD)

There was no post last week due to a long series of conspiratorial circumstances such as being busy, having shoddy/unreliable internet (still the case, actually; thank goodness for cupcake shops with wifi! Yes, that is a picture from today of my yummy cupcake), and a villainous wasp stinging my hand and thereby rendering me unable to type for a few days — the horror! #writersworstfears

BUT I’m back now, at least for the moment. 🙂 So blogging shall happen! Hurray!

I have bookish thoughts for you today, and next week (June 1st) I’ll be sharing an exciting cover reveal here. So excited for both! ^_^ After that I will endeavor to return to a more regular blogging schedule for June… Hopefully.

Meanwhile, I have exciting news to share in the bookish world: there are now THREE Vintage Jane Austen books out! *trumpets and confetti*

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma retelling) which I reviewed, Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility retelling), and a collection of short stories by various authors, edited by Hannah Scheele, Second Impressions: A Collection of Fiction Inspired by Jane Austen.

I’ve read the two novels that are out so far and LOVED them, and I’m looking forward to reading the short stories! 😀 (You can learn more about the series HERE, or add these to your Goodreads TBR list HERE.)

Meanwhile, I’m here today to talk about Suit and Suitability by my dear author friend, Kelsey, and tell you why you should read it! ;D

Title: Suit and Suitability
Author: Kelsey Bryant
Date read: February 16, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction (1930s) / Christian / Romance
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Series: Vintage Jane Austen, #2 (Standalone. Each book by a different author.)
Fave character: Everett
Source: From the author
Notes: I beta-read this before it was published

My Review

Firstly, I enjoyed this book SO MUCH! 😀 A retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, this version is set in 1930s America during the Great Depression (mostly in Ohio, and parts in New York City), with a dash of mystery added to it, and it was an absolute delight to read. 🙂 It drew me in from the first chapter and kept me totally absorbed, despite historical fiction of this sort not being my usual reading fare—I loved it! ^_^

It was so fun getting to meet the characters (slightly familiar but also oh-so-new!), soak up the absolutely GORGEOUS description and brilliantly well-painted time period, connect parallels and suspect upcoming things with the retelling parts, be surprised by little twists, and enjoy the humor, dialog, spiritual bits, character interactions, and generally just bask in the excellent writing! 🙂

Retelling-wise, it’s definitely recognizable as a take on Sense and Sensibility (at times a little more like the movie, perhaps?), but also its own story. So much of the original story was woven in so interestingly in clever little ways, that I had great fun comparing the two, seeing the similar things and changes and tweaks, especially fitting so well into the new time period! I enjoyed the parallels and predicting things, but there were also enough surprises that it kept me on my toes and left me with some lovely “aha!” discovery moments, like an entirely new book… which in many ways it is. I was VERY pleased with this as a retelling and as a book in general. ^_^

The setting and writing, which I somehow think of together, were both AMAZING. I was in awe at how well the time-period and setting were painted! I don’t know a lot about the 1930s, but it was just set SO. WELL. The way people talked, the clothes, the houses, details, even their names… just all of it was so evocative of the ’30s. The attention to detail was phenomenal and absolutely stunned me. I avoid writing historical fiction largely because I would never be able to do the research well enough to plunge the reader so completely into the world like this book did for me. It helped that the writing was gorgeous (and sometimes amusing!), completely sucked me in, and held me spellbound. It’s quite a long book (largely to accommodate the stories of both sisters) but it didn’t feel that way at all. 🙂 (Also, references to Captain Blood, Agatha Christie, etc., was the best. :D)

Characters! One of my favorite things… and these absolutely did not disappoint. I LOVED THEM! 😀 (I mean, except for a few, but we’ll get to that. *cough*) I loved their dialog and interactions and they had me laughing and quoting them a few times. So much fun! ^_^

  • Everett Shepherd is my favorite. 😀 The character he’s based on (Edward Ferrars, of course) wasn’t very present in the original book, so it was fantastic that he got a more “screen-time” in this retelling! I loved that. 😀 Everett was really well-written and I loved him. 😀 He was so awkward and sweet and quiet and nice and just… basically the best! ^_^
  • Ellen Dashiell, the main heroine of the story, was also so well-written and I really liked her. 🙂 She felt so REAL to me. I felt bad for a lot of her struggles and cheered her on, and she was just a great heroine—rather inspiring, actually!
  • Calvin Bradley is AWESOME. I do wish he could have been in it more, but I suppose part of the point is that he’s in the background being steady and faithful and kind and solid and grave and dependable, so… I guess that’s all right. 🙂 But he was fantastic! ^_^
  • I loved Frances! :O A very opinionated secretary who was not (I think?) based on anyone particular, she was such an unexpected character to steal my heart, and really claimed her own as a memorable person. She’s so blunt and fiery and just… the best. XD I was really surprised at how much I ended up liking her. 🙂
  • In contrast, I really disliked Leona. UGH. -_- I mean, we’re supposed to dislike her, so that means she was written well too. XD And one of the things about Jane Austen books seems to be that there’s always THAT character we love to hate. 😛
  • I’m not saying who, but I was taken off-guard by how CHARMING and likeable a certain character was (anyone who knows the Sense and Sensibility story will pick out who I’m talking about). He was well-written enough that I found myself liking him at first even though I knew who he would turn out to be! I did really dislike him as time progressed and as his situation dictated, but the fact that I liked him at all to start with… I was impressed with that.
  • On that note: yes, I will finally talk about the other heroine of the story, namely Marion Dashiell. It’s tricky here, because at times I liked her, and other times… I really, really didn’t. But I feel like that’s appropriate, because that’s exactly how I felt about Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. A lot of people seem to like her but, really, I just DID. NOT. LIKE. MARIANNE. Ugh. So Marion in this version was very similar, which means I think she was written right. XD I did like her more than the original Marianne, I think, but they’re both so flighty and dramatic/passionate/un-reined-in, and while at times I connected with Marion Dashiell over loving books or thinking Ellen might be a little to nice or something (simply because I’m likely not as patient and kind as Ellen, so that’s one thing Marion and I have in common, unfortunately) I just on the whole didn’t like her, and I also didn’t understand her theater passion/obsession because I’m not an actor. 😛 (I’m a writer and an introvert, and the idea of acting on a stage terrifies and appalls me, which means I simply don’t understand her acting passion.) Much of the story is about Marion, and I just didn’t enjoy her parts as much, BUT they were still very interesting, and I suspect others would really enjoy reading those parts; I think it’s just a personality thing where I don’t really (personally!) like Marianne/Marion in either the original or this retelling. So that was just me. Hence, the fact that I loved this book so much despite that, shows how awesome it is. 😀

Also, I think it’s neat how, while Marion and Wilkie’s story was definitely very much there, it wasn’t the only thing that Marion was doing, since her focus is largely about acting too. Even if I didn’t care for her goals so much, it made it interesting that she had something going besides just a romance—and the same with Ellen. I liked how the plot had a lot more to it than just the romances—even though I loved those too. 🙂

There are many things I loved that I can’t directly address due to spoilers, but suffice it to say that the romances (not telling whose! ;)) were at times painful (as expected) but ultimately SO SWEET and rewarding and lovable. ^_^ Sooo many mixed emotions on the ride and I enjoyed it all so much! ^_^ My favorite pair of all, especially. They are the sweetest thing, poor darlings, and they go through so much but it’s all so worth it and their patience and quiet goodness is rewarded and it’s so SWEEEEET! ❤ I’m just really really happy with the entire plot related to them. 😀 JUST YES. Their parts were so fun and I just… I so enjoyed reading about them! I’m ever so pleased that they got more focus than their original counterparts, because they totally deserve some more focus and this time they get it! ^_^ But but but much cuteness of two sweet love stories. ^_^ BASICALLY THEY WERE PERFECT.

I was also very very pleased with how a lot of the plot turned out at the end! EEP. There was even a little sleuthing involved off-screen which made me think of the Hardy Boys and that time period, and it made me happy. 😀 Plus a couple of quite surprising twists, different than the original, which I absolutely LOVED in this! 😀 (Like how the stories of a couple of side-characters turned out, and the plot about Mr. Dashiell.)

Intriguingly, I felt like not only was this a good retelling of one of Austen’s books, but it seemed (to me) to hold true to the general worldview of what I feel like Jane Austen might have been trying to get across in some of her novels, about Christianity and morality, and perhaps about a peaceful rural life of contentment versus the rush and callousness of the city, etc. It all worked really well with this specifically Christian retelling. I quite liked the spiritual aspects of this book and thought they were well-done and inspiring. 🙂 I only recently picked up on those kinds of aspects Austen seemed to put in her books; it might have been reading Mansfield Park recently that helped me piece together this parallel connection. But somehow, some of the things in Suit and Suitability point to a deeper alignment with the (perhaps at times overlooked or forgotten) subtle hints in the original books, and just seemed to FIT with Jane Austen’s works. 🙂

Overall, I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS AND THIS STORY! ^_____^ *hugs it for always* Despite not reading much historical fiction or being particularly a fan of the ’30s, and almost not even liking (sometimes) one of the main characters (a.k.a. Marion) I just so enjoyed this! It’s definitely an excellent book (I kept being blown away by the writing—sooo good) and, what’s more, a fantastic retelling of Jane Austen’s original book! I just so enjoyed it! ^_^

I definitely recommend this book, to anyone who likes Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, the 1930s, well-researched Christian Historical Fiction, sweet YA romances, all of the above, or even just an excellently-written tale of charming (and sometimes funny) characters and their journeys in love and faith! 🙂

(Thanks to the author for the chance to beta-read this book before it was published. 🙂 I was not required to write a review and these are my honest opinions.)

About the Book

The mystery surrounding their father’s criminal accusations is almost as hard to solve as the many puzzles springing on their hearts.

Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?

Find the Book

Amazon • Goodreads

Author Bio

Since becoming an Austenite as a teenager, Kelsey has dreamed of writing a book in ode to Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility is one of Kelsey’s favorite novels and Elinor Dashwood is her favorite book character, so it’s easy to imagine her ecstasy as she was writing Suit and Suitability. This is her first published historical fiction work; she has also published two YA contemporary novels.

Kelsey lives in Central Texas with her family, where she’s also a copy editor, a martial arts instructor, and an avid student of the Bible.

You can connect with her online here:

Blog • Website • Goodreads • Facebook

So what do you think? Have you read or watched Sense and Sensibility? Does Suit and Suitability intrigue you? And have you read any Jane Austen retellings you can recommend to me? Tell me aaaall in the comments! 🙂 Thanks for reading! ^_^

Emma Retold: Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Review)

emmeline3d

Hey, everyone! 🙂 As promised, I’m here today with:

My Review of…

Emmeline by Sarah Holman

5starrating

I beta-read this book awhile back, and I’m so delighted that it’s released to the world now! Seriously, if you like Jane Austen or the book Emma (or films!) at all, you’re going to want to try this one out! 🙂

Emmeline is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, set in the 1930s during the Great Depression. This book is the first of a series of such retellings, The Vintage Jane Austen.

Now, as a disclaimer, I’d like to say that I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, that I’ve never (to my knowledge) read a book set in the ’30s, and that before this I hadn’t read any retellings of Jane Austen’s novels… Yet even though it was not my usual reading fare, I enjoyed it immensely!

I read Emma for the first time not long before reading Emmeline, so the original story was fresh in my mind when I read the retelling, which only added to the delight I found in reading it. Retellings have always intrigued me, and I adored this one. 🙂 It was fun connecting the parallels of events and characters in this retelling to the older tale, their similarities and differences and twists, and seeing how well the story translated into the new time period.

It was well written and engaging (possibly Sarah Holman’s best work yet!) and I was impressed with so much about it, including how well put together it was, as a retelling and as a book in general. It’s a fairly short read (I read it in two days), which left me impressed also that it fit in all the important Emma-type things, in far less space than the original book, without feeling condensed.

Fredrick Knight (the Mr. Knightley of this version) is so awesome! His character was pretty much my favorite thing about the book — well, him and his relationship with Emmeline. 😉 He’s like a mix of the original Mr. Knightley, and some sort of Hardy-Boys-type character (thinking of the time period), though more grown up, of course, and so very REAL. Fredrick was just an amazing character — so good and kind and firm, not afraid to tell Emmeline when she’s wrong about something (which is often. XD) but also willing to have fun. HE’S THE BEST.

Another thing I loved was the relationship and banter of Fredrick and Emmeline — their dialog was priceless! And the thing about the hat. XD Their interactions were just SO well written!! BASICALLY THEY’RE THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS BOOK AND I LOVE THEM AND THEIR STORY SO MUCH! ^_^ ❤

The ending was a little quick (but I loved it so much anyway!), and a circumstance about Morgan’s ending surprised me a little, so I’m not sure if I liked that, but otherwise I have no complaints and just really enjoyed it. 🙂

Other fun things:

  • The details like the food they ate (yum!)
  • Literary references (the Rover Boys! <3)
  • All the little feelings of the ’30s which felt authentic and pulled me directly into the time period.
  • A Christian theme runs through the book which I really liked and felt was done well.
  • Humor and drama and banter, which I loved! 🙂

Overall, a very enjoyable read — I loved it! Recommended to any fan of Jane Austen, or Christian historical fiction with a dash of romance, or the ’30s… or just a good clean enjoyable read!

(Also, can we talk about how absolutely GORGEOUS the stunning cover my dear friend Hannah designed? Just. Just. Yes. <3)

I can’t wait for the rest of the Vintage Jane Austen series of retellings in the ’30s (each by different authors) to come out, and I’m very much looking forward to re-reading Emmeline!

About the Book

img_3447What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

Find the Book

Amazon  Goodreads

You can find out more about the author of Emmeline, Sarah Holman, at her blog, www.thedestinyofone.com, and more about The Vintage Jane Austen series at www.vintagejaneausten.com.

Give me your thoughts, dearest Roadlings! Is or is not Mr. Knightley the best? (The correct answer is YES! ;)) Does Emmeline intrigue you? Have you read any retellings of Austen’s novels that you can recommend to me? Tell me all! 🙂