Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review Part 2 - Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress, Editor

Recently the lovely Laurel Ann Nattress stopped by The Calico Critic to introduce her new project, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Austenesque short stories.  I've now had the opportunity to read this collection, and in conjunction with Laurel Ann's post, I'd like to share some brief impressions of each entry.  As there are 22 shorts, I'm going to break this review up into three separate posts.  Today is Part 2.  The other portions can be found here:

Thanks for reading, and congratulations to Monica Perry, who won our Jane Austen Made Me Do It giveaway!

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“When Only a Darcy Will Do” by Beth Patillo

A couple of years ago I read Jane Austen Ruined My Life and found it to be a light, enjoyable read.  Beth Patillo's contribution to JAMMDI has similar features. It's light, romantic, based in modern day but with a bit of Austen sensibility.  I enjoyed the characters in this morsel and found myself rooting for them, even after a short time. It's fun to think there could be Darcys in disguise all about us.

“Heard of You” by Margaret C. Sullivan

Margaret C. Sullivan offers a prequel to Persuasion, with Captain Wentworth telling the story of how his sister and Admiral Croft met. I found this one to be well written, interesting, and believable for Austen's characters.  Ms. Sullivan seems to be well-versed on the inner workings of 19th century naval life.  This is another of those that could easily be drawn out into a full novel.  I'm glad to be introduced to Ms. Sullivan's work. This was highly enjoyable, and possibly my favorite of the period-set shorts.

“The Ghostwriter” by Elizabeth Aston

I'm all for imaginary plot devices, but I wasn't bowled over by this one.  I didn't like the characters, I wasn't able to suspend belief for the story's concept, and I found it uninteresting.  I'm sure Elizabeth Aston has written well in the past, but in this case I felt as if she didn't bring her A-game.

“Mr. Bennet Meets His Match” by Amanda Grange

I've always wanted to read a Pride and Prejudice prequel which features the courtship of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. How did this sedate reader become matched with the girl who would become a high strung mother of four? Amanda Grange's story is well written and sweet. But ultimately it left me wanting more with Mrs. Bennet. There was no hint to the tightly-wound personality that was to come. Overall, it was a nice tale, but with that one reservation.

“Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” By Janet Mullany

Set in England in 1964, this story follows the afternoon of Julie Morton, school teacher. She and some students discuss the characters of Sense and Sensibility and how they might compare to the Beatles, who were all the rage at that time.  Julie also finds herself reevaluating her relationship with her boyfriend. I found this story to be mildly interesting, but fairly forgettable.

“Letters to Lydia” by Maya Slater

"Letters to Lydia" is a new perspective on some of the events of Pride and Prejudice, written from the perspective of Maria Lucas through unidirectional letters to Lydia Bennet. Through Maria's poorly-written reports and inquiries, she shares the hidden goings-on of Lydia, Darcy, Lizzie and others.  I wasn't very impressed with this one, although I found the concept for the presentation to be interesting.

“The Mysterious Closet: A Tale” by Myretta Robens

Cathy Fullerton, a 29 year-old editor from Boston goes on a vacation in a gloomy part of England, in an old abbey, a la Northanger Abbey.  While she participates in some usual tourist activities in the area, within her bedroom she has a bit of a supernatural encounter.  She questions her sanity a bit, but ultimately the occurrences come to bear on real life.  I found this one to be well written and enjoyable, although I found the end to be a bit surprising, abrupt and odd.

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 Come back soon for the final installment of my review!

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