Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, Yes! And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia is the reason why!
His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?
Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?
What a concept! Thinking of Mr. Darcy as an American from Virginia! Sally Smith O’Rourke not only takes a leap in time in her novel Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, but she takes a big literary leap as well. And while a friend of mine scoffed at this idea when I mentioned it to them, I went on to explain that it really becomes a plausible notion in this twist on the world of Jane Austen.
In the first book of this series, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia finds himself back in time through a mysterious portal. There he befriends the lovely Jane Austen. Through her interaction with him, she is inspired to create the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy in her beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice. I haven’t read O’Rourke’s previous title to know all of the particulars, but it’s clear that Darcy made quite an impression upon Miss Austen, becoming somewhat of a muse.
Back in the present day, Fitz is developing a new relationship with a modern woman, Eliza Knight. She comes to know of the portal, as well as Fitz’s role in Jane Austen’s life. This Manhattan artist sometimes fights moments of insecurity in the face of one of the greatest writers of all time. She questions whether Fitz can truly love her. How would she ever be able to compete with such a figure?
In Yours Affectionately, the portal is once again opened, and a young man from the 19th Century begins to build a life in the present day. As much as we Janeites might fantasize about traveling back to Jane’s time, this young vet-in-the-making named Simmons revels in the modern conveniences that we enjoy today. With all the opportunities that are before him in the 21st Century, it becomes very difficult for him to return to Jane’s time. But if he doesn’t, it could have dire repercussions throughout the centuries.
As my regular readers are aware, I’m almost always game for an Austenesque time-travel story. My most recent venture into that genre was Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe. What I especially enjoyed about this latest novel was the blending of the real world with the characters that blossomed in Jane’s mind. I love the idea that Darcy was based upon an actual person, and an American at that. And while some may scoff at this literary choice, I think it was well executed. O’Rourke’s Darcy is just as much a gentleman as Austen’s. He’s a horseman with a large estate, with proper manners and just enough aloofness to fit the part. I didn’t find him to be particularly despicable (as Jane’s could be in the original text), but that is of no consequence. Along with the other characters in Yours Affectionately, I found the entire cast to be quite enjoyable, right down to a minor, almost villain-like character. I loved the magical, misty quality of the portal that linked their two worlds. I have no idea what brought it into our world, but it didn’t concern me. I was able to buy into the concept easily and enjoy it. During one of the final portal scenes, there is one interaction in particular that was particularly delicious. It made me envy Eliza, wanting to step into her shoes in that moment.
My only complaint with Yours Affectionately comes from my own choice. I made the decision to read this book first, before its predecessor, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. Throughout Yours Affectionately, O’Rourke does her best to inform readers like myself on events from the previous episode. Yet there were many times when I felt like an outsider at a dinner party, trying to piece together the snippets of a story that I’d missed. However, I enjoyed Yours Affectionately so much, I am eagerly anticipating the chance to go back and take in (what I will think of as) the prequel to this novel. I’ll relish watching Darcy and Jane meet and see how their relationship came into fruition.
Sally Smith O’Rourke’s titles certainly belie her love of our cherished author, Jane Austen. The tone and quality of her writing shows true affection for this historical figure, and it’s quite obvious that like her modern-day version of Mr. Darcy, she is an American who holds Jane close to her heart. Not only to I encourage you to dive through the mist into Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, but I can almost guarantee that its predecessor will be worth our time as well. I’ll be sure to give you a full report, and I anticipate good news as well!
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Sally Smith O'Rourke has made Calico Critic readers a great giveaway offer!
Prize #1: U.S. Domestic - Trade paperback copies of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen as well as Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
Prize #2: International - eBook copies of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen as well as Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
Now you can get started on this fabulous series, right from the beginning! Be sure to read the guidelines below, enter via the Rafflecopter widget, and good luck!
- The contest period ends at 12:00am EST on Saturday, June 15th.
- Make sure you leave your email address in the one required portion of the Rafflecopter form. Should you win, I will contact you on Saturday the 15th. Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message (CalicoCritic@gmail.com). You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
- All entries must go through the Rafflecopter form. If you leave an optional blog post comment, in order for it to count toward your contest entry, be sure to indicate that you commented through the "Leave a Blog Post Comment" button on the Rafflecopter form.
- The prizes will be distributed via Sally Smith O'Rourke.
- Entries will be verified. If a fraudulent entry is detected for the winning name, another winner will be drawn.
Now Available:Yours Affectionately on Audiobook!