Love reigns supreme for Colonels Buford, Fitzwilliam, and Brandon as our brave fighting men are enjoying their courtships and early married lives with three beloved Austen heroines. The couples lead tranquil lives - until Napoleon escapes from exile.
As the colonels set out to meet their destiny on the fields of Waterloo, Anne, Caroline, and Marianne defend their hearts against the fear of losing their loved ones forever.
From the serenity of Regency England to the scandal and intrigue of the Congress of Vienna, three gentlemen live, love, fight, and defend their country from Napoleon's voracious ambition.
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Last year I highly enjoyed Jack Caldwell’s Pemberley Ranch, a sort of Pride and Prejudice-Old South mash up. It was an unexpected combination, and I was surprised at how much I liked it. So it was with an open mind and anticipatory heart that I came to read The Three Colonels, Caldwell’s latest work.
Once again Jack has an interesting premise for an Austenesque novel. He’s derived characters from mulitiple Jane Austen works and time periods to abide in one plane of existence. Some of the main characters are Colonels Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) and Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice), Marianne Brandon (S&S), Caroline Bingley (P&P), Anne de Bourgh (P&P) and other Austenian characters as well. The third titular character is a Welsh gentleman named Colonel Sir John Buford, a new creation of Mr. Caldwell’s.
While the source materials may have been set in different time periods, The Three Colonels begins in 1814. It focuses mainly on the relationships between the colonels and the women they love, but there is also a culminating focus on Napoleon’s return from Elba and the ultimate battle at Waterloo.
Even though I didn’t enjoy The Three Colonels as much as Pemberley Ranch, I can still give it a hearty recommendation. During the days this was being read, I was enduring some very difficult health issues, and I can say that it provided many moments of pleasant escape during a truly challenging time in my life.
I liked Caldwell’s portrayal of these characters, in particular the redemptive view he took of Caroline Bingley. He also gave Anne de Bourgh a bit of a spine, which was very satisfying. He kept the romance details fairly chaste (although there were a few steamy moments, albeit within the confines of marriage) and the language between these worldly men was surprisingly clean. The themes of redemption, victory and home were used throughout.
Colonels also gives the reader a bit of a history lesson in regard to the issues of the time—such as Napoleon’s escape from Elba and subsequent brief return to power, the frustrations of the 19th century postal system, cultural challenges and the usual Austenesque romantic obstacles and victories. Caldwell clearly did his homework in this regard, and he even offers a suggested reading list at the conclusion of the book to supplement our knowledge of the period.
Putting these characters together was a bit of a literary risk on the part of Mr. Caldwell’s, but I think his gamble has paid off. Seeing this cast of characters together was delightful and their relationships always proved to be interesting. I also enjoyed the small winks to other Austen works besides Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Being a well-read admirer of Jane Austen’s works isn’t a requirement for The Three Colonels, but a general knowledge of the plots of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility makes for a better experience.
Jack Caldwell has successfully merged multiple Austenian worlds, bringing his readers a romantic, adventurous tale of lovers, soldiers and friends. The Three Colonels is another wonderful novel from this enjoyable author, one who is a welcome addition to the growing list of Austenesque fiction writers.
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Giveaway of The Three Colonels! (US)
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