Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't Mess with Anne Elliot

As my wedding day rapidly approaches, I'm finding less and less time to read or post. So, in an act of infinite laziness, I'm sharing a post by one of my favorite bloggers Mags from AustenBlog and her
awesome takedown of an article on Slate. Persuasion is my favorite Austen and I thoroughly enjoyed Mags commentary on this ridiculous article.

Here's the link for the Slate article in question
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_completist/2013/04/jane_austen_books_ranked_and_reconsidered_from_emma_to_persuasion.html

And here's Mags response to the author's criticism of Persuasion:
http://austenblog.com/2013/04/08/in-defense-of-persuasion/


Enjoy, and feel free to provide your thoughts in the comments section.

Cheers,
Laurel

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match: Review by Rachel Stevenson

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match takes the old tale of Pride and Prejudice and updates it where Lizzie and Darcy meet on an online dating website. Beth (Lizzie) is a single mother looking to finish up her undergraduate degree in social work and is using the site for a class project. Will Darcy is a doctor using the website to win a bet and start a medical clinic. 

I didn't want to like this book but I did. It was a quick read and I got into the characters. I liked how the book didn't completely follow the original novel. While it was easy to see where there was a Jane and Bingley not all the other characters in the original showed up in the this rendition. I like it better when authors put their own stamp on Pride and Prejudice. 

That being said I did feel that some of Darcy's feelings toward dating single mothers (he doesn't know Beth has a child) are a bit forced and don't make sense. Maybe I don't know because I've never been a single mother and unlike the Darcy character my parents are stilled married, but I felt if I as a child had a bad stepmother instead of not wanting to be a stepmother other I'd hope that I'd want to be a great stepmother. Maybe that's just my idealism working it's way through. 

The only other thing that got me about the eversion of this book is it ends when the book hits the 86% mark. I wasn't expecting this so I had worked up in my mind that something else was going to happen before the happily ever after. Part of me hoped that Wickham, who fathered Beth's child and then left her, would come back and he and Darcy would have a show down. Wickham doesn't show in this book, but I kind of wanted him to do so. 

All in all a good quick read for a rainy afternoon. Like I said there were only a few things I had real issues with, but I did want the happy ending and I did like the characters.

Review by Rachel Stevenson

Rating: 3.5 Wax Seals

Jane Austen's Guide to Thrift: Review by Marisa Robinson


Fans of Jane Austen know that she had a thrifty spirit that she showed through her most beloved characters. Marianne Dashwood exclaims in Sense and Sensibility, “What have wealth and grandeur to do with happiness?...Money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction…” Marianne is a romantic at heart and will not settle for just any partner and forgo wealth and security for true happiness.  Jane Austen, herself, was not wealthy in monetary means but she was “generous in her letters and publications as we are her heirs and beneficiaries from that endeavor” (Anderson and Jones).  Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift is a well thought out guide to gain happiness and self-respect by living within your income and creating a lifestyle free of debt. The fifteen chapters cover topics such as: investing and saving, thrifty shopping, using a budget, creating a thrifty household, fashion finds and giving back to others. Every chapter opens with a quote from one of Jane Austen’s memorable books and uses a character to explore the topics. For example, Lucy Steele’s character is clever, seeking an advantageous husband and fortune, so the chapter she is referenced deals with investments. Charlotte Lucas is simple, in want of a household to be mistress of so the chapter that cleverly references her is about running a household on a budget. 

While this book is not exactly an “Austen Sequel”, it does have some useful information about reducing your debt, prevent wasted spending and being frugal in life with matters of materialism. Many of the suggestions and ideas have been covered before in talk shows and in magazines. Some of the chapters are a bit dry and redundant but the use of Jane Austen’s characters is clever and if anything makes me want to pick up one of her books and return back to her amazing stories. Since Jane Austen herself was a simple woman and didn’t have financial freedom, she did make the most of what she had and found joy in the hearts of her family and acquaintances.  As stated in the book, rather than be consumed with material things and status quo, “I’d much rather be reading, reading, reading Jane Austen, and spending time with real as well as fictional loved ones.”  If you are looking for a non-fiction guide with tips to help manage your monetary lifestyle and love anything Austen, then you might enjoy this book. Other than that, I would pass and just pick up one of her classics or a sequel that keeps the Austen stories alive.

Review by Marisa Robinson
Rating: 3 Wax Seals
 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

And Now, Introducing....


I'm very excited to introduce my two new contributors to Austen Sequels!

Marisa Robinson

I think I first read a Jane Austen book about 20 years ago in an English Literature class. I was immediately drawn to her timeless stories. Finding books that continue the stories or reinvent them, I just can't pass up! Aside from reading (which I do a lot), I enjoy music, yoga, gardening, cheering on the Chicago Blackhawks and spending time with family and friends.








Rachel Stevenson


College event planner by day, Rachel, becomes a Regency lady by night or at least through her reading. Rachel first met Jane Austen in high school, but didn't truly appreciate Austen until she lived in the UK and walked where Jane walked. Rachel has a master in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh and is working on a second masters in art administration from Goucher College.











Reviews from these two lovely ladies will be posted soon, so keep your eyes out!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Writers Wanted!

In an effort to make Austen Sequels current, up-to-date and relevant, I'm seeking volunteers to help me maintain the site. I'd love someone who's willing to write reviews or relevant blog posts. For those in the continental US, I would be able to provide you with ARCs as they come in.
I'm looking for a good writer with discerning tastes and love of all things Austen. If you or someone you know is interested, please email me at laurel.obstgarten@austensequels.com and we can discuss possibilities.

Hope to hear from some enthusiastic writers/bloggers! I'm looking forward to the possibilities of making Austen Sequels a great site for Jane Austen enthusiasts!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Miss Jane Austen's Guide to Modern Life's Dilemmas

What do I wear to an interview? I've said something rude. How can I make it better? How do I introduce a new man to my somewhat crazy family?

These questions and more are answered in Rebecca Smith's delightful new book. Miss Jane Austen's Guide of Modern Life's Dilemmas answers your burning questions with sound modern advice as well as advice taken from Jane Austen's novels and letters. For example, the "I've said something rude. How can I make it better?"is answered, not surprisingly, with reference to Emma's infamous nasty joke about Miss Bates. Ms Smith recommends "be careful who you mix with and make jokes in front of..." Apologize to the person you have offended. In Emma's case, she was able to overcome her rude faux paus and became a better person.

While I would recommend this to anyone looking for some light advice, this is my no means a book that should determine all the decisions you make. Unfortunately life is not like a novel, with a happy, conclusive ending. Your long distance relationship may not turn out like Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. Likewise, Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice might not be the place to look for answers like "How can I delete a friend on Facebook without causing offense?"

That being said, Ms Smith does find a clever way of working 17th century Regency life into today's problems. If you need help with serious problems, by all means see a therapist. Looking for a light hearted answer to your minor foible using our dear Jane's words and novels? Check out this book.

I give this title 4 wax seals.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Midnight in Austenland

Pembrook Park, the location of Shannon Hale's two Austen-related novels, is a place like no other. Set in the English countryside, actors parade around in Regency attire. Guests, generally lonely women who love the idea of the Austen romance, come to be swept off their feet by handsome gentleman, all while dressed in Georgian-era finery, learning to dance and be a proper lady.
Does this sound good to you?
It did with Jane, the heroine of Hale's first novel, Austenland. Her second novel, Midnight in Austenland, tells the story of Charlotte, mother and wife, who is coming off of a divorce, brought on by her husband's infidelity. She's looking for a getaway; Pembrook Park becomes the natural choice (though I'd like to think Bora Bora wouldn't be so bad).
Just like Austenland, the heroine travels to Pembrook Park where she meets characters that those who have read Hale's original novel will recognize. There are handsome gentlemen designed to woo Charlotte, along with a man playing her brother. He provides her with support and a strong shoulder, and those who understand how stories like these go, will have no doubt how things will turn out.
I don't mean to imply that Midnight in Austenland is at all predictable. Hale, tongue firmly placed in cheek, inserts enough twists and turns that you feel like you've stepped into one of Catherine Morland's fantasies. Hale is best when she keeps things humorous and light, so a few of her more dramatic plot points felt awkward and out of place.
If you loved Austenland, I have no doubt that you will love Midnight in Austenland just as much. I read it in two sittings, having to pull myself away to eat and sleep. It's a perfect vacation book, light enough to keep you interested, romantic enough to make you swoon and sigh.
I'll gladly give Hale's sophomore effort 5 wax seals. I highly recommend it.