Sunday, September 3, 2017

Reviews of Classics, Historical, and Modern Fiction

As the heat up here in the mountains finally begins to wane for a few days, here are some more reviews, starting with a classic that B and I read together as part of his American Lit last spring, along with a few other historical and modern fiction novels. Let me know what you think if you've read some of these...or would like to!

A Separate Peace A Separate Peace by John Knowles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somehow I had missed reading this book in high school, but our youngest and I read it together the spring as part of his American Literature program for his junior year. It was better than I thought it would be. The microcosm of an all-boys school during the Second World War is intriguing, especially since these boys knew that they would soon be soldiers themselves. This book is about loyalty and friendship more than anything else, and it's definitely an intriguing book, one that leaves a sour taste in one's mouth (along with most 20th century American "classics").

Mr. Darcy's Bargain: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary Mr. Darcy's Bargain: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary by Regina Jeffers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A variation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy's Bargain starts with Elizabeth and Mr. Gardiner on Darcy's London doorstep about ten months after her rejection at Hunsford. They request his help in trapping George Wickham who has apparently tricked Mr. Bennet and the good people of Meryton with a "get-rich-quick" investment scheme. The stress upon suspecting that Wickham is not on the "up-and-up" has caused Mr. Bennet to have a heart attack.

Darcy agrees to assist with entrapping Wickham . . .in exchange for Elizabeth's acquiescence to a renewal of his proposal. With her father ill and the citizens of Meryton, including her own family, facing ruin, Elizabeth agrees to Darcy's bargain.

But the scheme is far more detailed and deep than anyone suspected. Will Darcy find solid evidence of Wickham's trickery, and if he does not, will Elizabeth uphold her part of the bargain?

A complex and highly entertaining Austen variation. Regina Jeffers never fails to please!

Snowbound at Hartfield: A Sweet Tea Novella; Pride and Prejudice sequel Snowbound at Hartfield: A Sweet Tea Novella; Pride and Prejudice sequel by Maria Grace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting mash-up of Austen characters end up at Hartfield (the Woodhouse home in Emma) during a snowstorm, including Darcy, Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy, Mr. Bennet, and Colonel Fitzwilliam of Pride and Prejudice fame, plus Sir William Elliot and Miss Elizabeth Elliot of Austen's Persuasion. Mr. Knightley invites them to stay through the storm at the home of his wife (Mrs. Emma Knightley) and her father, and other characters from Emma wander in and out at will.

But romance is brewing while the snow continues to fall. This impromptu house party definitely has some surprises in store for the neighbors of Hartfield as well as the guests who remain, warm and cozy, by the fire as the storm blusters and blows, both outside and inside as well.

I had the pleasure of proofreading this novel for author Maria Grace, and it's extremely interesting to see beloved characters from several Austen novels trapped together in a single dwelling for an extended time, especially as an unlikely pairing begin a romance.... ;)

The Eyre Affair The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was fun to go back to this series and re-read it. The literary inside jokes and plain FUN--plus the unfolding of the mysteries Thursday Next experiences as a Literatec--make for such an enjoyable read!! From the WillSpeak machines on various corners in Thursday's hometown of Swindon to gatherings to act out Richard III in the same manner as we used to dress up to portray the various characters at midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Fforde shows us an alternate universe in which books rules the day...and the Goliath Corporation owns everything else. Thursday gets involved in trying to save Jane Eyre when the original draft of the novel is stolen by a madman who holds its characters hostage. This first book in the Thursday Next series is even more wonderful the second time through...or is it the third time??

Lost in a Good Book Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is nothing quite like being introduced to Jurisfiction (the policing force within fiction) by Miss Havisham and being trained to deal with everything from Goliath Corporation to the eradication of one's own husband (while being pregnant with his child). But Thursday Next always seems to solve the mystery, and she does so again...even in the Well of Lost Plots where books are written. Things get particularly hairy when a fictional character runs for Prime Minister, and everything in Jurisfiction, as well as in the real world (the Outland, as fiction calls it) goes catawampus.

This is the second of the Thursday Next series by author Jasper Fforde, and although not quite as humorous as the first in the series, The Eyre Affair, there are enough literary puns and allusions to amuse along with an exciting plot and, of course, Pickwick, Thursday's loyal dodo.

Rain and Retribution Rain and Retribution by L.L. Diamond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elizabeth flees a forced marriage to Mr. Collins with the assistance of the Hills, trying to get to London to the Gardiners'. But in the pouring rain, her conveyance breaks down, and Mr. Darcy comes to the rescue. When they stop at an inn, Elizabeth becomes ill from exposure to the weather and thus is compromised, and Mr. Darcy offers marriage...which Elizabeth accepts after learning more about him. Once the several days of rain abate and Elizabeth is able to travel, they marry quickly at Darcy House...and then the romancing begins as Elizabeth must face that she has married a good man, one whom she doesn't understand in the least....

* * * * *

As we continue with our last year of home education and as I teach two concurrent Brave Writer online courses (Groovy Grammar and the Shakespeare Family Workshop), a few minutes spent reading can renew the mind and lift the spirits. 

Happy reading!

1 comment:

L.L. Diamond said...

Thanks so much for the review, Susanne! I'm so glad you enjoyed Rain and Retribution.


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