Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

USS Ward photo from 1918, near the end of the Great War (World War I)

December 7th.

Yes, it's Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day--the 75th Anniversary. And it's so much more.

You see, my grandfather was at Pearl Harbor, the most devastating attack upon American soil until 9/11. Notice, please, that I didn't say "in" Pearl Harbor. No, he was on the USS Ward, an insignificant destroyer, a remnant of the US Naval fleet from the Great War (WWI), that was patrolling outside the harbor in the early hours of 7 December. It was within the first 24 hours of LCDR William Outerbridge's first command. My grandfather, Richard Edward Farwell, was the First Officer, also his first command.

Captain Richard E. Farwell--my grandfather

And what happened next is a oft-forgotten event of history: 

From Wikipedia:

On the morning of 7 December 1941, under the command of LCDR William W. OuterbridgeWard was conducting a precautionary patrol off the entrance to Pearl Harbor when she was informed at 03:57 by visual signals from the coastal minesweeper Condor of a periscope sighting, whereupon Ward began searching for the contact. At about 06:37, she sighted a periscope apparently tailing the cargo ship Antares whereupon she attacked the target.[4] The target sunk was a Japanese Ko-hyoteki-class two-man midget submarine and thus Ward fired the first American shots of World War II a few hours before Japanese carrier aircraft formally opened the conflict with their attack on the Pacific Fleet inside the harbor. The submarine was attempting to enter the harbor by following Antares through the anti-submarine nets at the harbor entrance. Ward fired several rounds from its main guns hitting the conning tower of the sub and also dropped several depth charges during the attack.

And from the Minneapolis Star Observer:
At 4 a.m., a minesweeper signaled the Ward that it had sighted a submerged submarine in the area.
The crew conducted a search, but nothing was found until, at 6.30 a.m., several of them spotted what appeared to be a conning tower or buoy moving in the water. Alerted, the Ward’s captain spied the object and confirmed to his satisfaction that it was a submarine preparing to enter the harbor channel behind another Navy ship. The fact was alarming because all U.S. submarines in the area were under orders to operate on the surface with a destroyer escort.
If there was any hesitation about what to do next, it was short-lived. At 6:45, the captain ordered to “commence firing!” A shell from the ship’s No. 1 gun missed, but the nine-man crew of the No. 3 gun next fired a shot that was seen to hit the base of the conning tower. The sub disappeared beneath the waves. The crew had sunk a Japanese two-man midget submarine (the wreckage, with a shell hole in the conning tower, was discovered in 2002).
The Ward immediately notified Naval Command at Pearl Harbor that it had attacked and fired upon a submarine operating in the restricted area. But in a frustrating counterpoint to the swiftness of her captain’s and crew’s reactions, the message was essentially ignored.

And thus, the crew of the USS Ward discharged the first American shot of World War II. 

In 2002, the Japanese midget submarine was found by divers, right where the Ward reported discharging their weapons. Here's the link to the article in the Honolulu Observer. 

Japanese midget sub sunk by the USS Ward, 2005 expedition

Then 7 December became even more important for my family three years later. On 7 December 1944 in the Leyte Gulf, the Ward was struck by a Japanese kamikaze pilot and my grandfather, Captain Farwell, managed to evacuate all personnel with no casualties. In fact, from Pearl Harbor to the Leyte Gulf, the USS Ward sustained no casualties.  

USS Ward, sinking in the Leyte Gulf after being hit by a kamikaze. My grandfather is the man with the helmet and jacket all the way to the left on the USS O'Brien, watching the Ward ship sink.

The crew of the Ward were rescued by the USS O'Brien, commanded by William Outerbridge, the captain the Ward at Pearl Harbor. Outerbridge had to give the order to scuttle the Ward, so with my grandfather, captain of the USS Ward at his side, the two men who had captained the Ward watched it disappear into the sea. 

For those of you who love naval history, here's the whole history of the USS Ward, from being built in a mere 15 days to the sinking in the Leyte Gulf:

This afternoon my mother is giving a talk on the USS Ward and her father's part in firing the First Shot to the Honolulu Rotary Club. I wish that it could be recorded as I really want to be there to soak up all of the family history. 

Other 7's run through my family: my grandparents were married on 7 January 1943, and my mother was born on 7 October 1943. 

Then I gave birth to our youngest child on 7 December, and we named him for my grandfather by giving him the middle name "Edward." My grandfather was not alive to meet his namesake, but I think he'd be proud just the same to have a great-grandson born on this memorable day.

So Happy 17th Birthday to Benjamin Edward, born on this most important day in the history of our family.

In remembrance,

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Even More Book Reviews!!!

Here are some further book reviews. With the holidays coming up, you may have less time or more time to read (depending on your work and/or schedule), so here are some of the books I've read and enjoyed this autumn....

The Mistress of Longbourn The Mistress of Longbourn by Jann Rowland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, The Mistress of Longbourn finds a very diminished Bennet family. An epidemic struck the village of Meryton, taking the lives of many; hardly a family was left untouched. But Longbourn received the worst of it: the only survivors were Elizabeth, whose strong constitution allowed her to be the only one at Longbourn to fall ill and survive (although her convalescence was lengthy), and Kitty, the only one in the household to never fall ill. With their Uncle Gardiner in London as their guardian and their Uncle Phillips in Meryton to watch over them, Elizabeth and Kitty grow close during their year of mourning. Elizabeth learns to run the estate and Kitty the house, and with wise decisions thanks to a wonderful steward who marries the replacement housekeeper after Mrs. Hill's demise (as well), Longbourn is thriving.

And then Netherfield is let by a single man in possession of a good fortune....

A definite twist or three from the Austen's original, I found myself unable to put this book down. It was well-written, with delightful character development and plenty more twists and turns along the way as Elizabeth, now the mistress of Longbourn, has plenty of admirers to deal with.


Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues by Linda Berdoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very detailed novel set immediately after the wedding of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife shows us the many adjustments that must be made as two people possessing both pride and prejudice learn to live with one another. I found it to be a more realistic look at the Darcy marriage, showing both the ups and downs of married life. I very much enjoyed this novel.


Mr. Knightley's Diary Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite not being a fan of Austen's Emma in the least, I quite enjoyed Mr. Knightley's Diary, probably because the story was told from a completely different point of view and did not focus solely upon Emma. Mr. Woodhouse seems even more eccentric through Mr. Knightley's eyes, and Frank Churchill even more villainous and sneaky than Emma noted in Austen's novel. However, Mr. Knightley, set in his bachelor ways, is very kind in his estimation of his neighbors and friends, and he seems to realize that something is going on behind Jane Fairfax's calm demeanor long before anyone else had a single suspicion.

His manner of challenging Emma is because he admires her: the way in which she caters to her highly eccentric worry-wart of a father, the way she enthusiastically (but unwisely) takes on Harriet as her protege, her kindness to all around her. But he also notes her faults, and by the end of the novel, loves her more than ever.

It's a delightful book, one that I liked far more than I thought I would.


The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was utterly delightful. A framed tale, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen starts with our heroine, a librarian named Samantha, as she accompanies her boyfriend on a working vacation to England and there purchases a very old book. Once she gets it back to the B&B, a letter within the book is discovered...a letter that seems to be written by none other than Jane Austen! The letter hints that Austen had written a very early novel called The Stanhopes and that it was left behind at an estate called Greenbriar where her family had spent the winter months.

Samantha tracks down the estate and starts looking for the novel with the help of the estate's money-strapped owner. Once the novel is located, Samantha and Anthony takes turn reading aloud the story of Rebecca Stanhope and her father who are forced, under the cloud of a minor scandal, to leave their parish behind and accept the charity of family members. Miss Stanhope's experiences and feelings are the main focus of the book. She is a sweet girl, somewhat intelligent and quite lovely. Determined to marry only for love, Miss Stanhope's adventures create a wonderful basis for the novel.

If only Jane Austen had actually written this story or one much like it, I would be one very happy Janeite!

This novel is thoroughly delightful, and once I came to the final page, I flipped back to the beginning and started the journey all over again. A brilliant novel all the way!!


Hope For Fitzwilliam Hope For Fitzwilliam by Jeanna Ellsworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second in the Hope Series Trilogy by Jenna Ellsworth, Hope for Fitzwilliam picks up where the first book, Hope for Darcy leaves off. Elizabeth and Darcy are married, and Charlotte Collins, now a widow expecting her late husband's child, continues through her year-long mourning period. However, Charlotte keeps a dark secret regarding her husband and their marriage while Elizabeth, Darcy, and the Colonel uncover a secret account in Mr. Collins' ledgers, a secret that may affect Charlotte's future--and that of her child.

Charlotte and Colonel Fitzwilliam worked together to bring Elizabeth and Darcy to the point of courtship, then marriage, and while they did so, they began to develop romantic feelings for one another. However, these feelings seem to be impossible to act upon since the Colonel, as a soldier and second son, has not the means to support a wife, and Charlotte Collins declares that she will never place herself under the power of a husband again. So Elizabeth and Darcy, along with Georgiana, take their turn as matchmakers. But a far more powerful Force is at work, changing the hearts and souls necessary to allow love to grow and flourish.

The first two volumes Hope Series Trilogy are truly delightful and uplifting reads, and I am very much looking forward to the third and final book of the trilogy, Hope for Georgiana, currently scheduled for release in November 2016.


Treachery at Lancaster Gate Treachery at Lancaster Gate by Anne Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this book right when it was released, but because of my crazy schedule, I had to return it before getting more than a chapter or two into it. Then I had a long library wait until it was my turn to receive it again since Anne Perry's books are always so popular.

The Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery preceding this one was rather dull; in fact, I could barely get through it and had to renew the book three times (seriously!). Since Thomas took Victor Narraway's place as Head of Special Branch, I have missed Charlotte's usual nosing into Thomas' cases and I definitely missed Gracie's cheek. But both Charlotte and Gracie, and even Charlotte's sister Emily, were involved in this extremely twisty-turny mystery in which we knew almost from the very start whodunnit--as does Thomas--but the whys and wherefores all needed ferreting out and then to be proven. Even Lady Vespasia and Narraway become involved. Tellman, now married to Gracie, also returned to help Thomas to discover the motive behind a bombing that killed three policemen and injured two others, one burned almost beyond recognition.

Treachery at Lancaster Gate definitely returned us to the characters and content that has made this series so intriguing and memorable. It felt much like the "old gang was all here" once again, working together to right the wrongs they could despite the miscarriage of justice that was at the heart of the terrible bombing.

Kudos to Anne Perry for returning us to the Charlotte & Thomas Pitt novels that we know and love so well!! Thank you!!


The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth is a very different variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I don't even want to tell any details about the novel because it will ruin the surprises, and these are terrific surprises. Just one part seems rather far-fetched and unnecessarily strung-out, but I don't want to reveal what that part is because it will give away too much.

This is a wonderfully and gently suspenseful tale of Darcy and Elizabeth's love for one another against what seems to be terrific odds. It's definitely a wonderful novel, and I highly recommend it to other lovers of Austenesque tales.


Courting Elizabeth Courting Elizabeth by Renata McMann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful variation of Pride and Prejudice, Courting Elizabeth starts immediately after Elizabeth's refusal of Darcy's proposal in Kent. However, after writing his long letter of explanation to Elizabeth in the wee small hours, Darcy leaves the sealed letter on his desk and goes out for a walk. When he returns, the letter is missing.

Darcy is then confronted by Lady Catherine who not only entered Darcy's room but took the letter, opened it, and then berates Darcy regarding the contents. Anne de Bourgh, who does not want to marry Darcy, hatches a plan to take over Rosings on her 25th birthday per her father's will, but in the meantime, Darcy will have to court Elizabeth...and thus it begins.

This variation shows a very different Anne de Bourgh and also a very different Bingley, both of which seem more realistic to me. And Lady Catherine is nearly off her rocker with desperation to force the wedding between her daughter and Darcy despite their opposition.

There is definitely a good deal of suspense in this tale--and very strong character development to accompany the strong and intriguing plot. It's a wonderful "ride" of a story, one that fans of Austen will truly enjoy.

The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Jack Caldwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jack Caldwell says that it takes a real man to write historical romance.

And after reading several of his books, I have to agree.

Although I have not yet read the first book in his Jane Austen's Fighting Men series, this second book. The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel, was amazing. I've been a devoted fan of the Scarlet Pimpernel since watching the made-for-TV movie from the early '80s in my high school English class. Starring Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy, Jane Seymour as Marguerite, and Ian McKellen as Chauvelin, I was immediately swept up by the adventure and romance. In fact, I felt that this film was the exception to "the book is better than the movie" adage. I read several of Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel novels while in college and graduate school, and I found them scattered, unfocused, and at times actually boring.

So when a lovely copy of The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel signed by Jack himself, appeared in my mailbox, I was thrilled to have won the book in a drawing hosted by Austen Variations. And although Northanger Abbey isn't my favorite Austen novel, I was quickly pulled into Frederick Tilney's story . . . and his love-at-first-sight for the lovely Violet Blakeney, daughter of Sir Percy and Lady Blakeney. But despite the passing of a quarter of a century, machinations in Paris, brought about by Napoleon's escape from Elba, will draw Sir Percy into a trap set by a former patriot of the Republic. (Anyone who knows Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities will recognize Lafarge, the Parisian wine merchant and supporter of the Republic, immediately--a clever allusion, Mr. Caldwell!) And thus the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel is reformed with some younger members, to end the final enemy of the Scarlet Pimpernel and insure the safety of his legacy.

We get glimpses of other Austen characters, including Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, Miss Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam, the Tilney family, and Colonel Brandon, as the story unfolds. A cleverly-woven story of romance, intrigue, revenge, and adventure, this book is utterly unputdownable (I don't think that's a word, but it's an accurate description). Okay, "compelling" is more grammatically acceptable and definitely more concise--and it is indeed a compelling read. The main focus is on Frederick Tilney and his growth in character when seeking the hand of the beautiful and spirited Violet. But winning Violet's heart is one thing; earning Sir Percy's trust is quite another.

A wonderful read--especially for fans of The Scarlet Pimpernel films. While Mr. Caldwell prefers Leslie Howard's 1934 foray into this character, I read this entire book imagining Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour as we see them today as Sir Percy and Marguerite. And I couldn't help but envision Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane in the Sleepy Hollow television series) as Frederick. In fact, I feel a great need to re-watch both the 1982 Scarlet Pimpernel and at least the first season of Sleepy Hollow.

And yes, Mr. Caldwell, I will seek a copy of Leslie Howard's portrayal of Sir Percy as well.

So that's all of the book reviews for now. I'll post another handful later on, perhaps later this week. I started getting behind on my reviews around the first week of November when I had to start grading first drafts for my MLA Research Essay course at Brave Writer, and I haven't even tracked which books I read since then, much less have written reviews. So I'll try to go back and piece together at least my reading list from this time. 

Wishing you all a blessed Second Week of Advent! 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

First Sunday in Advent

Today is the first day of the Church Calendar: the First Sunday in Advent. The above Advent wreath was made by Keith a over a decade ago for the sanctuary at Lake Murray Community Church after Pastor Rollo Casiple left for Miami and took his Advent wreath with him. I hope that the church family at Lake Murray, where we worshiped for nearly twenty years, still uses it in their worship services. It is a lovely wreath, indeed.

Here is the Collect for the First Sunday in Advent from the Book of Common Prayer 2011 which is to be prayed daily throughout the Advent Season:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now during this present life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility, so that at the last day when he will come again in glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to eternal life; Through him who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen. (References: Romans 13.12; 2 Timothy 4.1; Philippians 2.5-8; 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17)

Here's some basic information about Advent that I've gleaned from several sources:

The word “Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the four weeks before Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus in His First Advent, the Incarnation, and the anticipation of His return in His Second Advent, His Coming again to the earth. Thus, Advent celebrates the revelation of God in Christ whereby all people may be reconciled to God, a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate in the Second Coming.

Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of Christians as we affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. It calls us to holy living that arises from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful ambassadors of Christ’s gospel as His return is imminent.

Advent is richly symbolic. The light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is “the light of the world” and that we are also called to “walk in the light, as He is in the light.” The purple of the candles symbolizes the royalty of Christ, the Almighty who “made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” The rose candle reminds us that hope, joy, and peace are near, available only through God. The large white candle, the Christ candle, recalls Christ’s holiness, purity – He who was without sin who died for the sins of all. The greenery, symbolizing abundant life, surrounds a circular wreath – never ending, eternal life. The red of the holly berries reminds us of His blood to be shed on the cross for us.

Advent takes place over the four Sundays before Christmas: today, the first Sunday, we light the Prophecy Candle, which reminds us of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. On the second Sunday we light the Bethlehem Candle, which shows us that Christ was born in the poorest of towns, in utter humiliation. We light the Shepherd Candle on the third Sunday, which recalls the shepherds watching their flocks by night when Christ was born, and also symbolizes Jesus Himself, the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep. On the fourth Sunday we light the Angel candle, which reminds us of the Heavenly Host, proclaiming the Good News in Bethlehem on that night long ago, and also that the angels rejoice when one sinner turns to the Lord. Finally, on Christmas we light the Christ Candle, which reminds us whose Light we are celebrating: the light of Him who rescued us from darkness and death and reconciled us to God Himself.

The primary focus of Advent is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as we wait together to celebrate His birth, death, and glorious resurrection. We anticipate His working in our hearts as we celebrate together Advent together as a church family.

And a beautiful prayer for the beginning of Advent that we used to pray together in Lake Murray's adult Sunday School:

O God,
we remember the promise of your Son.
As the light from this candle,
may the bless of Christ come upon us,
brightening our way
and guiding us by his truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

If your family has a special way to celebrate Advent, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for new ways to celebrate this Holy time in which we remember our Savior's first coming as a babe in Bethlehem and anticipate His second coming as well.

A blessed Advent to you and yours!

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Day Late: The Feast of Christ the King

From the Archives...and a day late....

Today is the final Sunday of the Christian Year, the celebration of Christ the King.

And today's daily devotional at The High Calling was superb in explaining this observance. I have copied the devotional in its entirety:

Make a Joyful Symphony to Christ the King
by Mark D. Roberts
Psalm 98:1-9

Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!

(Psalm 98:5-6)

Today is a special holiday in the Christian year (sometimes called the liturgical year or the church year). It is Christ the King Sunday. This holiday is not as well-known as other celebrations such as Christmas or Easter. But it holds a unique place in the Christian year as the last Sunday of the year. On Christ the King Sunday, we celebrate the coming reign of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. We delight in the fact that when Christ reigns, the world will be restored, peace shall reign, justice shall be established, and all people will live in the fullness of the kingdom of God.

In the providence of God, our chapter from the Psalms for today perfectly fits the themes of Christ the King Sunday. If you’re new to the Daily Reflections, I should mention that on the weekends I focus on the Psalms, working psalm by psalm through the entire collection of 150. Today “just happens” to be the day for Psalm 98. This whole psalm resonates with the victory celebration. God has won. It’s time to rejoice. Verses 5 and 6 focus our praise: “Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!”

Every Sunday, Christians gather to celebrate the victory of God through Jesus Christ. The one who was crucified was raised on Easter Sunday, thus defeating sin and death. On Christ the King Sunday, we shout to Christ the Lord with gratitude for his sacrifice. We announce his victory to the world, inviting them to join us in our celebration: “Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!” (98:4).

On Christ the King Sunday, we complete the cycle of the Christian year. It began almost one year ago with Advent. In that season prior to Christmas, we set our hope upon God, yearning for our Savior, as did the Jews so many centuries earlier. Today, we celebrate the fact that the Savior came, born in a manger. That he lived among us, proclaiming the kingdom of God. That he died, taking upon himself the sin of the world. And that he was raised from the dead, breaking the power of sin and death itself. Christ rules today as King of kings. This we celebrate, even as we look forward to the time when we will fully enjoy the life of his kingdom.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you live as if Christ is the King of kings? What would it mean for you to acknowledge his kingdom each day? How can you celebrate Christ the King in your life today? How can you celebrate Christ the Kind in your daily work this week?

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

An updated portion to this post:

In England, this Sunday Before Advent is called "Stir-Up Sunday" for two reasons. The first may be seen in the Collect from the Book of Common Prayer 2011 below as we pray for the Lord to "Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people...." The Collect from the British 1662 Book of Common Prayer which would have still been in use in Jane Austen's time, as well as the Collect from the American 1928 Book of Common Prayer, begin the prayers with "Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people...."

Secondly, "Stir Up Sunday" also marked the day that the Christmas puddings were stirred up and set to soak in brandy until Christmas Day when it was lit afire. We can read about this tradition in a fan fiction story written by Maria Grace from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in which the Bennet family (including the odious Mr. Collins) prepares the Christmas pudding with all of the various familial and religious connotations of each step at Austen Variations: Pride and Prejudice Behind the Scenes: Stir-It-Up Sunday. Enjoy!!!

Back to the Archives....

And from the Book of Common Prayer 2011:

Propers for the Sunday Before Advent: Christ the King:

ALMIGHTY and eternal God, who restores all things in your Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords; Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people, so that we may abundantly produce the fruit of good works and be abundantly rewarded in your eternal kingdom; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Jeremiah 23.5-8; John 6.5-14; Psalm 85; Hebrews 7.1-7

So we pray the old Christian Year out in thanksgiving and praise as we welcome in the new Christian Year beginning next Sunday with the First Sunday in Advent!!

Wishing you a blessed day of victory in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Praying by the Book....

Revised from the Archives...

Some Christians either look down upon or simply don't understand why other Christians find value in praying from a prayer book. Whether that book is a Book of Common Prayer from the 1540s or Baillie's classic Diary of Private Prayer from the 1940s or Stormie O'Martian's Power of a Praying Wife from the 1990s, or the Book of Common Prayer 2011, etc., praying from a book, or "by the book" can express the soul-language of our hearts.

I had never prayed from any book, except the Scriptures of course, until about ten years ago. Yes, I started with Stormie O'Martian's books which have been accepted almost without question in evangelical circles, but then online friends encouraged me to try Baillie's slim volume of prayers.

And I fell in love with praying all over again.

Obviously, there's nothing wrong with extemporaneous prayer; it's what we do all the time. And praying "by the book" should never totally replace praying on our own; in fact, Baillie even advises in his book of prayers, "These prayers are to be regarded as aids; they are not intended to form the whole of morning's or evening's devotions or to take the place of more individual prayers for oneself and others."

But adding such written prayers to our prayer times has totally revolutionized my own prayer life.

My 1928 Book of Common Prayer, Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours, my ESV Bible, prayer journal, prayer beads, candle, and cross.

For me, written prayers often express my heart more thoroughly and deeply than I can in extemporaneous prayer. I find this especially true in using the Book of Common Prayer and Baillie's Diary of Private Prayer. Baillie's little book presents page-long prayers for Morning and Evening for thirty-one days, plus Morning and Evening prayers for Sundays; thus, each prayer is prayed once per month. The prayers become familiar over the years (and I've been using Baillie's book off and on for well over fifteen years), but for me, they are never rote. Nope, never ever rote.

Instead, they become beautiful expressions of the love and faith in my heart, expressed far better and with a more global outlook than my own private prayers.

One of my favorite prayers is the Twelfth Day, Evening:

O Thou in whose boundless being are laid up all treasures of wisdom and truth and holiness, grant that through constant fellowship with Thee the true graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within my soul:

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart:
The grace to await Thy leisure patiently and to answer Thy call promptly:
The grace of courage, whether in suffering or in danger:
The grace to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ:
The grace of boldness in standing for what is right:
The grace of preparedness, lest I enter into temptation:
The grace of bodily discipline:
The grace of strict truthfulness:
The grace to treat others as I would have others treat me:
The grace of charity, that I may refrain from hasty judgement:
The grace of silence, that I may refrain from hasty speech:
The grace of forgiveness towards all who have wronged me:
The grace of tenderness towards all who are weaker than myself:
The grace of steadfastness in continuing to desire that Thou wilt do as now I pray.

And now, O God, give me a quiet mind, as I lie down to rest. Dwell in my thoughts until sleep overtake me. Let me rejoice in the knowledge that, whether awake or asleep, I am still with Thee. Let me not be fretted by any anxiety over the lesser interests of life. Let no troubled dreams disturb me, so that I may awake refreshed and ready for the tasks of another day. And to Thy Name be all the glory. Amen.

So I pray, with words not wholly mine, but with a heart that, I pray, is wholly His.

And I find great comfort in praying in this way, especially when the exhaustion and brain-fog and pain of my illness makes praying extemporaneously a challenge.

For me, my private prayers were becoming rote. I felt as though I were praying the same things each day, almost as if I were ticking off a grocery list of requests. So the prayers I pray from books have often been more heart-felt than my private, extemporaneous prayers.

I think that God doesn't look at our words in prayer so much as at the heart attitude behind the prayer.

"For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." --1 Samuel 16:7, ESV

With God, it's always the heart that counts.

Praying by the book with heart,

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Blessed All Saints' Day

Adoration of the Trinity by Albrecht Durer, 1511
From the Archives...

Today, November 1, is the Feast of All Saints. On this day we remember all of the saints who have walked the Pilgrim Pathway before us, living the Christian life in a God-pleasing manner.

The Collect for All Saints from the 2011 Book of Common Prayer 
ALMIGHTY God, you have woven your disciples into one communion and fellowship in the mystical Body of your Son, Christ our Lord; Give us grace to follow your Saints in righteous and holy living, and to come to the joy beyond words which you have prepared for those who truly love you; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. 

From's Saint of the Day e-mail:
The earliest certain observance of a feast in honor of all the saints is an early fourth-century commemoration of "all the martyrs." In the early seventh century, after successive waves of invaders plundered the catacombs, Pope Boniface IV gathered up some 28 wagonloads of bones and reinterred them beneath the Pantheon, a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The pope rededicated the shrine as a Christian church. According to Venerable Bede, the pope intended "that the memory of all the saints might in the future be honored in the place which had formerly been dedicated to the worship not of gods but of demons" (On the Calculation of Time).
But the rededication of the Pantheon, like the earlier commemoration of all the martyrs, occurred in May. Many Eastern Churches still honor all the saints in the spring, either during the Easter season or immediately after Pentecost.

How the Western Church came to celebrate this feast, now recognized as a solemnity, in November is a puzzle to historians. The Anglo-Saxon theologian Alcuin observed the feast on November 1 in 800, as did his friend Arno, Bishop of Salzburg. Rome finally adopted that date in the ninth century.
Comment:This feast, first honored martyrs. Later, when Christians were free to worship according to their conscience, the Church acknowledged other paths to sanctity. In the early centuries the only criterion was popular acclaim, even when the bishop's approval became the final step in placing a commemoration on the calendar. The first papal canonization occurred in 993; the lengthy process now required to prove extraordinary sanctity took form in the last 500 years. Today's feast honors the obscure as well as the famous—the saints each of us have known.
Quote:“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.... [One of the elders] said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9,14). 
All Saints of Scotland Icon
And from The High Calling's Daily Reflection:
Today is All Saints Day, a holy day recognized by the Catholic Church and, in various ways, by various Protestant denominations. Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate the Sunday of All Saints on the week after Pentecost.
Some Christian traditions focus on remembering special Christians on All Saints Day or bringing to mind believers who have died and gone to be with the Lord. This day offers a fine opportunity to thank God for those whose lives have honored him and made a difference to us. Yet, it's important to remember that the biblical sense of "saint" includes all of God's people, not just those who have excelled in discipleship. I thought it might be helpful for us to review what we learned about saints from Ephesians 1:1.

In the opening verse of this letter, Paul addresses the letter's recipients as "God's holy people." Traditionally, the Greek word hagioi, translated here as "God's holy people," is rendered "saints." Thus, the King James version reads, "To the saints which are at Ephesus." In fact, the English word "saint" comes from the Latin sanctus, which means "holy." So, saints are holy people, by definition.
But what does it mean to be a holy person, a saint? From a biblical perspective, something is holy when it is set apart for God and God's purposes. So, an animal to be sacrificed to the Lord is holy because it is designated for this special function. In Exodus 19, God set apart the Israelites as his own "treasured possession" (19:5). They would be a "holy nation" (19:6) through which God would make himself known to the world. In the New Testament, believers in Jesus Christ are referred to as "saints" or "holy people" because they have inherited Israel's divinely conferred status as people set apart by God for him and for his saving purposes.
If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are a saint. You are a holy person. This does not necessarily say anything about your worthiness to receive this title or your exemplary lifestyle, however. I wouldn't recommend that you go around putting "Saint" in front of your name. Rather, you are a saint because God has chosen you to belong to him and his people. He has set you apart so that you might participate in his redeeming work in the world.
Remember, you are not a solo saint. There is no such thing from a biblical perspective. Rather, as a saint, you have been joined to the family of all saints, including those who live around the world and those who have gone to be with the Lord. Therefore, on All Saints Day, it is a perfect time to remember that God has made you special for him and his purposes, and that he has joined you into the eternal, worldwide fellowship of all his saints. Moreover, it's a good day to take seriously the fact that God wants to make himself known in this world through you as a member of the family of all saints.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you hear the word "saint" or "holy person," what do you envision? Do you believe that God has set you apart for himself and for his mission in the world? Who are some of the "saints" who have encouraged you in your faith? Why not thank God for them today?
PRAYER: Holy God, it is amazing to think that you have set me apart for you and for your mission. Thank you for choosing me to enter into a relationship with and to serve you in the world.Help me, dear Lord, to live out who I am as a saint. May I see my whole life in light of the fact that you have set me apart for you. May I live distinctively, reflecting your presence and values in all that I do. And may I do so as part of your family of saints.
Thank you, gracious God, for those saints who have meant so much to my discipleship. I thank you for those I have never met, like the Apostle Paul, or J. S. Bach, or C. S. Lewis. And I thank you for those who have nurtured me in a personal way, for my parents and grandparents, for my Sunday School teachers and youth leaders, for my pastors and mentors. Thank you, dear Lord, for these wonderful saints! Amen.

So as we focus on the amazing men and women of the Faith, those who are now the "great cloud of witnesses" who cheer us onward as we run the Race, may we look to His Holy Word which encourages and helps us:
Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
May we indeed run the Race for God's glory as so many of his Saints have done for the past two thousand years!!

Wishing you a blessed remembrance of All Saints,

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Vigil of All Hallows Eve

(re-post from 2009 with some additions)

"If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” -- Luke 11:36, ESV

The Vigil of All Saints, also known as All Hallows Eve or Hallowe'en, has been celebrated since 835 A.D. when All Saints Day was moved to its present date, November 1. All Saints' Day is the celebration of all who have walked the pilgrim pathway on the straight path, entering by the narrow gate. We can admire these saints and emulate their lives as we, too, journey this pilgrim pathway trod hard and fast by the footsteps of those who have traveled it before us.

However, Hallowe'en, the Vigil of All Saints, has been transformed from a night of fun and "well-mannered frivolity" to an evening that is dark, even dangerous. In my childhood, I remember Hallowe'en being a night of fun and neighborliness, and in our small mountain village, it remains so with several families providing small parties in their front yards for the parents to sit down around small fire pits and chat while the kids visit the houses on the street.

In our village, there's only one area with street lights and concrete curbs (nope, we have no sidewalks in our town--concrete curbing is the best we have, and even that's rare), and that's where most of the Hallowe'en activity is concentrated. In the middle of this area, our local church used to host a "Gospel Barn" in a large front yard with stories and treats for the kids while parents mill around, chatting and drinking hot cider. This year Pine Valley Community Church is combining a "Trunk or Treat" with the "Food Truck Friday" community events we held during the summer. So the whole village is invited to eat, "trunk or treat," and just hang out together around some fire pits.

After Trick-or-Treating, it's a wonderful night to curl up with the kids, a bowl of popcorn in our laps and a "scary" movie on TV, watching Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi. But Hallowe'en seems to have been co-opted by older teens and adults, and a distinctly sinister tone exists that didn't when I was a child (or perhaps I was merely oblivious to it).

As states:
While this autumn feast can be used for evil purposes, our culture celebrates it as an innocent night of begging and fun. We who believe in the light of the world can use it to celebrate the Light. "Hallow" means holy and the word Halloween refers to the night before the feast of all holies, or All Saints Day. Emphasize all things good, joyful and pure. Let your children know that they are "children of the light" called to walk in the light.

Remember, though, that All Hallows Eve is a distinctly Christian feast, and Fr. Bosco Peters posted the actual Hallowe'en liturgy on his website Liturgy New Zealand which I reproduce for our use below:

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (tempera on wood) by Fra Angelico, c. 1423-24

All Saints' Vigil (Halloween)
(congregational responses are in bold)

Liturgical Colour: White

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Let us pray.

God of glory, as daylight fades, we give you thanks for surrounding us with the brightness of the evening light; as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ the light of the world. Amen.

Grant us, compassionate God, the lamp of love which never fails, that it may burn in us and shed its light on those around us, and that by its brightness we may have a vision of that holy City, where the true and never-failing Light lives: Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

God of the universe, you are the source of life and light: dispel the darkness of our hearts, that by your brightness we may know you to be the true God and the eternal light, loving and living, now and for ever. Amen.

Be our light in the darkness, God we pray, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Eternal God, who led your ancient people into freedom by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Grant that we who walk in the light of your presence may rejoice in the liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Any of the following may follow: Evening Prayer, Night Prayer, readings, a sermon, baptism, the eucharist. A Renewal of Baptism may be used at an appropriate point.

A Renewal of Baptism
I invite you (to stand) to affirm your commitment to Christ and your rejection of all that is evil.

Do you believe in God the Father?
I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Those who are baptised are called to worship and serve God. From the beginning, believers have continued in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.

Will you commit yourself to this life?

I will, with God's help.

Will you forgive others as you are forgiven?

I will, with God's help.

Will you seek to love your neighbour as yourself, and strive for peace and justice?

I will, with God's help.

Will you accept the cost of following Jesus Christ in your daily life and work?

I will, with God's help.

With the whole Church will you proclaim by word and action the Good News of God in Christ?

I will, with God's help. (NZPB p. 390)

Let us give thanks to God.
It is right to offer thanks and praise.

We thank you God for your love in all creation, especially for your gift of water to sustain, refresh, and cleanse all life.

We thank you for your covenant with your people Israel; through the Red Sea waters you led them to freedom in the promised land. In the waters of the Jordan your Son was baptised by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit. Through the deep waters of death Jesus fulfilled his baptism. He died to set us free and was raised to be exalted Lord of all.

We thank you that through the waters of baptism you cleanse us, renew us by your Spirit, and raise us to new life. In the new covenant we are made members of your Church and share in your eternal kingdom.

We pray that all who have passed through the waters of baptism may continue for ever in the risen life of Christ. Through Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all praise and thanks be yours, Redeemer God, now and for ever. Amen. (cf. NZPB pages 385-386)

God our creator, the rock of our salvation, we thank you for our new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, for the forgiveness of our sins, and for our fellowship in the household of faith with all those who have been baptised in your name; keep us faithful to the calling of our baptism, now and for ever. Amen.

A Blessed and Safe All-Hallows Eve to you and yours, my blogging friends!!

In God's Holy keeping,

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Even More Book Reviews!

So here are a few more book reviews, mostly dating back into August and early September when I had my Kindle Unlimited account and took a rest between finishing up teaching my Fan Fiction summer course at Brave Writer and starting the new school year....

Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-Imagining Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-Imagining by Mary Lydon Simonsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set during World War II, everyone at Longbourn is doing his/her part in the war effort. Elizabeth drives a lorry, delivering food and supplies where needed. But Elizabeth refuses to fall for anyone when men and dying left and right; the death of Jane's fiance (who was also Elizabeth's childhood friend) taught her that. But what can she do when fighter pilot Darcy starts pursuing her? Set during the rocket attacks in Britain in the days before the attack on Normandy, this book is historically accurate and emotionally compelling; I simply could not put it down!!

Love Never Fails: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Love Never Fails: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Jennifer Joy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another lovely variation of Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice. In this variation, Mr. Bennet passes away the morning of the Meryton Assembly; thus, the Bennet women are in mourning and do not meet the Bingleys or Darcy. However, Darcy met Mr. Bennet the day before his death and is carrying guilt regarding the elderly gentleman's passing. Darcy writes a letter that Mrs. Bennet, thinking it a bill, burns. Elizabeth turns down Mr. Collins' proposal despite the fact that marrying him would allow her family to continue at Longbourn, but Charlotte, when she accepts Mr. Collins' offer of marriage, persuades him to allow the Bennets to remain at Longbourn at least until their year of mourning is over. Mrs. Bennet, indignant at Charlotte's acceptance of Mr. Collins and declaring that Longbourn is no longer their home, quits the estate practically overnight, selling off her husband's library (which grieves Elizabeth to no end) to finance her and the older two girls' stay in London while bringing Lydia with her as well; the other two girls remain with the Phillipses. Once in London, the fireworks begin.... ;)

An enjoyable variation of Austen's famous novel, and a delightful summer afternoon read!

The Resolute Suitor: A Pride and Prejudice Variation The Resolute Suitor: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Don H. Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful and dramatic variation on Austen's Pride and Prejudice, The Resolute Suitor introduces a very resolute Darcy who, despite Elizabeth's refusal, continues to pursue her. Elizabeth is slowly introduced into the ton and becomes a fixed figure there, and finally she and Darcy become engaged. However, tragedy strikes, and life changes for all of the Bennet girls...and that's all I'm gonna say for now. But it's good. Really good. Unable-to-be-put-down good. Yep. This one is a keeper.

In the hundreds of variations of Austen's novels I've read, I've discovered that some of the most profound versions have been written by men, and Don H. Miller is at the top of that list...along with Austen Variations' Jack Caldwell.

Rumours & Recklessness: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Rumours and Recklessness: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Nicole Clarkston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Rumours and Recklessness starts with a tragic accident at Longbourn that changes the situation of all of the Bennet family on the morning after the Netherfield Ball. This alteration causes the party at Netherfield to not leave, as occurred in Austen's novel, and Elizabeth, practically forced into a marriage she does not want, rebels at the highhandedness of the men who visit her at Longbourn during this difficult time. Will Fitzwilliam Darcy be able to win her heart and hand after all that's happened?

I thoroughly enjoyed this variation of Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I don't usually give 5's to books that are not classics in their own right, but this book was practically un-put-downable. I had to force myself to hide my Kindle out of sight so that I could devote time that I would rather be reading to actually teaching my online classes.

And as I read the author biography at the end, I was thrilled to discover that she is also a homeschooling mom and is also an ardent admirer of Elizabeth Gaskell as well as Jane Austen...just as I am!

So Rumours and Recklessness provides a wonderful excursion back to the Regency era, allowing us readers to revisit our favorite (and not-so-favorite) characters from Austen's most popular novel and enjoy the humor and romance that makes us adore Austen's books and characters so greatly. Read and enjoy!!

Hope For Mr. Darcy Hope For Mr. Darcy by Jeanna Ellsworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always love Jenna Ellsworth's variations of Austen's novels; they are well-written, romantic without being too detailed, contain great character development and exciting plot twists, and contain subtle Christian themes.

Much like Georgia McCall's Obligation and Redemption, the Christian themes are at the heart of the novel, but not in a clingy, saccharine-sweet manner. And while these themes pervade the novel, they add to the plot and the character development rather than detracting from it. For the most part, I have not been a fan of Christian romance novels, but Hope for Mr. Darcy was a delightful read. Much lighter and more accessible than McCall's novel (which I just finished reading before starting this book), it doesn't have the depth and angst of Obligation and Redemption, but Hope for Mr. Darcy, like all of Ellsworth's books, is a wonderful variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice and should be enjoyed by all devotees of continuations and variations of Austen's novels, whether the readers are Christians or not. And I am looking forward with great anticipation to the second and third volumes in this trilogy series.

The Mistress of Longbourn The Mistress of Longbourn by Jann Rowland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, The Mistress of Longbourn finds a very diminished Bennet family. An epidemic struck the village of Meryton, taking the lives of many; hardly a family was left untouched. But Longbourn received the worst of it: the only survivors were Elizabeth, whose strong constitution allowed her to be the only one at Longbourn to fall ill and survive (although her convalescence was lengthy), and Kitty, the only one in the household to never fall ill. With their Uncle Gardiner in London as their guardian and their Uncle Phillips in Meryton to watch over them, Elizabeth and Kitty grow close during their year of mourning. Elizabeth learns to run the estate and Kitty the house, and with wise decisions thanks to a wonderful steward who marries the replacement housekeeper after Mrs. Hill's demise (as well), Longbourn is thriving.

And then Netherfield is let by a single man in possession of a good fortune....

A definite twist or three from the Austen's original, I found myself unable to put this book down. It was well-written, with delightful character development and plenty more twists and turns along the way as Elizabeth, now the mistress of Longbourn, has plenty of admirers to deal with.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

More Reviews of Recently-Read Books

I have been so busy with teaching three online Brave Writer courses this autumn that my book review posts from Goodreads have fallen sadly behindhand. I tend to read variations of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for two reasons: firstly, I am currently working on two novellas in this genre, and secondly, I haven't the brain power to meet and get to know new characters, so I stick with long-beloved book series or Austen variations. Some of these reviews date back to late August, but I'll try to post a few groupings over the next week to catch up completely.

Oh, and I rarely give "5" scores except for incredible classics such as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, etc. So a "4" on a non-classic is really a great score--it means that I enjoyed the book very much indeed. And a "5" on a non-classic is really a "Wow!!"

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet is not a short novel, but I managed to finish it in fewer than 24 hours, partly because I took a sick day and partially because I simply couldn't put it down. Darcy meets Elizabeth Bennet when she is only 15, and mayhem ensues, with Elizabeth squarely in the middle. I don't want to write anything further because I don't want to spoil the myriad twists and turns this story takes over a six-year period. But it's an immensely satisfying read...and is definitely impossible to put down. I strongly recommend reading this book when you can clear a day to enjoy it all in one (very long) sitting, because it's quite the roller-coaster ride!!

I've given the "5" rating to only a handful (as in fewer than five) Pride and Prejudice variations out of the hundreds I've read over the past few years, but this one definitely deserves it!

Although I've read this book on Kindle Unlimited, I may have to invest in my own copy so that I can return to it again and again.

(Yes, it was *THAT* good!!)

Darcy's Ultimatum: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Darcy's Ultimatum: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Jennifer Joy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another wonderful variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice in which Jane and Elizabeth attend the London season with the threat of marrying Mr. Collins hanging over Elizabeth's head if she does not marry during the three months. And Darcy has a similar ultimatum: after Anne de Bourgh's rejection of his suit, he must marry within three months or his father will disinherit him. And then mayhem ensues (as it always does as soon as Elizabeth and Darcy meet). ;)

I have become quite a fan of Jennifer Joy's variations of Austen's novels; she writes with humor and depth at the same time. This is the first of the "Cousins" series, and I am definitely going to read the next two books in the series!

An Heir for Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Short Story An Heir for Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Short Story by Jane Grix
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A sweet short story of the birth of Darcy and Elizabeth's first child, written in third person from Darcy's point of view. I would have loved to have had this vignette expanded somewhat because it is indeed *very* short, but it was a lovely read nevertheless.

The Angel of Grove Street: A Novel of the Darcys and Bennets The Angel of Grove Street: A Novel of the Darcys and Bennets by Don Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful variation of Pride and Prejudice, The Angel of Grove Street shows us a very strong and independent Elizabeth who, after the death of her father at the news of Lydia's elopement with Wickham, transitions from country girl to a woman of the city. Living with Kitty at the wealthy Gardiners' after Jane's marriage to a doctor, Elizabeth devotes her time to working at and to singing to help fund Hope House, a charity for homeless girls. This charity remains dear to Elizabeth's heart after Lydia's disappearance two years previously. But while Elizabeth catches the eye of two suitors of the Ton, Darcy and a young Earl, she remains too scornful of the Ton and too independent to marry either man, good though they may be. And the story rolls on from there....

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this very well-written variation was written by a male author, and I was further pleased to come across a nice long list of previous Austen variations written by Don Miller. I think I will be reading many more of them in the future.... ;)

Earning Darcy's Trust: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Earning Darcy's Trust: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Jennifer Joy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another wonderful and thought-provoking variation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in which Darcy learns to trust and to depend on others, including Elizabeth, in order to protect his family against the wiles of Wickham and Caroline Bingley. A terrific plot with a theme that should make us all consider trusting others rather than trying to handle our problems all alone.

Progression Vol. 1: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Progression Vol. 1: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Jodi L. Covey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first read Progression (now separated into two volumes) on, and I was enthralled! I absolutely adored it, and re-reading it now was even better. A delightful continuation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, chapters 1-36 may be found in Volume 1 and chapters 37-61 may be found in Volume 2.

Starting with the Darcys' double wedding with Bingley and Jane, we follow William and Elizabeth through their honeymoon period and into Elizabeth's (and Georgiana's) introduction into London Society at the behest of Darcy's aunt, the Countess of Matlock. Caroline Bingley is also pursued by the mysterious Marquess of Thornhaugh. Anne De Bourgh manages to stand up to her mother and remove herself to London for the Season. And Colonel Fitzwilliam goes against his family in order to go to war against the French in the Spanish Peninsula.

Much more happens in both volumes of Progression, but I'll leave that for you to enjoy...and enjoy it you will!

Second Impressions Second Impressions by Amy George
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very different variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Second Impressions begins two years after Darcy and Elizabeth part at Lambton with the news of Lydia's elopement with Wickham. Afraid to meet Darcy after the ruin of her family and especially after he does not return to Hertfordshire with Bingley, Elizabeth travels to Boston to stay with her cousin, Emeline. After Lydia marries Wickham and Jane marries Bingley, Elizabeth begins her journey, requesting Jane, who now lives a very short distance from Pemberley, to not write her any news of Darcy. But with the news that Jane is again expecting after the birth of twins a year previously, Emeline persuades Elizabeth to returning to England and even accompanies her despite her disdain for the many rules of the ton.

Much has happened during those two years in Darcy's life, and Elizabeth returns to Derbyshire to find quite a different Darcy--a gaunt, haunted man. What can Elizabeth do to revive this shell of the man with whom she had been falling in love before she left? And whom does the highly independent American cousin Emeline (despite her jaded past) find to marry in staid old England?

That should be enough reviews for now. I'll post a few more in the coming week. Kindle Unlimited is wonderful--that's how I could manage to read so many books for so little cost! :)

Reading with you,


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