Mailbox Monday #365

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, which I obtained with my Audible credit.

Alone with Mr. Darcy….

Elizabeth Bennet can’t imagine anything worse than being stranded by a blizzard in a tiny cottage with proud and unpleasant Mr. Darcy. But being trapped there for days – and nights – with an injured and confused Mr. Darcy who keeps saying the oddest things about her is even worse. At least he possesses the useful ability of lighting a fire to keep them from freezing to death. But when he puts his arms around her, she discovers the hearth isn’t the only place he knows how to build a fire. And the little half-frozen kitten he finds in a woodpile isn’t proving to be much of a chaperone.

She doesn’t really believe his promises to marry her if anyone finds out they spent two nights alone together, especially after learning he was betrayed by another woman in the past. When her worst fears are realized and her reputation is in tatters, she isn’t surprised to discover Mr. Darcy has vanished into thin air, leaving her no choice but to find a husband as soon as possible before her whole family is ruined. Any husband will have to do, no matter how much she dislikes him. Even if she can’t stop thinking of Mr. Darcy.

National Geographic Kids Look and Learn: Farm Animals for review from Media Masters Publicity.

Young readers will meet their favorite farm animals and learn more about them through simple, age-appropriate language in this colorful board book.

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Easter: With Colored Eggs, Flowers, and Prayer from Media Masters Publicity.

The joyous celebration of Easter is seen through a global perspective in this National Geographic volume featuring over 25 vibrant photographs. Witness the holiest day on the Christian calendar as it is celebrated throughout the world: from the famous Easter Egg Roll at the White House to the traditional bonfires throughout Europe, to colorful customs, to the universally popular dying of eggshells worldwide.

The first-person narrative leads young readers through the origins and traditions of this springtime festival of rebirth and hope. Reverend George Handzo gives parents and teachers a historical and cultural background in his informative note.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #304

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Revival by Stephen King for Christmas from my parents.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

2.  One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart, a happy surprise!

Set in Florence, Italy, One Thing Stolen follows Nadia Cara as she mysteriously begins to change. She’s become a thief, she has secrets she can’t tell, and when she tries to speak, the words seem far away.


3.  Wet by Toni Stern from Saichek Publicity for review.

Toni Stern enjoyed a highly productive collaboration with the singer-songwriter Carole King. Stern wrote the lyrics for several of King’s songs, most notably “It’s Too Late” for the album Tapestry. Now, through the expansive medium of poetry, she continues her spirited exploration of contemporary life.

4.  Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust from the author for review.

5.  River House by Sally Keith from Milkweed Editions for review.

These are poems of absence. Written in the wake of the loss of her mother, River House follows Sally Keith as she makes her way through the depths of grief, navigating a world newly transfigured. Incorporating her travels abroad, her experience studying the neutral mask technique developed by Jacques Lecoq, and her return to the river house she and her mother often visited, the poet assembles a guide to survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable pain. Even in the dark, Keith finds the ways we can be “filled with this unexpected feeling of living.”

6. The Red List by Stephen Cushman from Louisiana State University Press for review.

The “red list” of Stephen Cushman’s new volume of poetry is the endangered species register, and the book begins and ends with the bald eagle, a bird that bounded back from the verge of extinction. The volume marks the inevitability of such changes, from danger to safety, from certainty to uncertainty, from joy to sadness and back again. In a single poem that advances through wordplay and association, Cushman meditates on subjects as vast as the earth’s fragile ecosystem and as small as the poet’s own deflated fantasy of self-importance: “There aren’t any jobs for more Jeremiahs.” Simultaneously teasing the present and eulogizing what has been lost, Cushman speaks like a Shakespearean jester, freely and foolishly, but with penetrating insight.

7.  The Heroes’ Welcome by Louisa Young from Harper for review.

The Heroes’ Welcome is the incandescent sequel to the bestselling R&J pick My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You. Its evocation of a time deeply wounded by the pain of WW1 will capture and beguile readers fresh to Louisa Young’s wonderful writing, and those previously enthralled by the stories of Nadine and Riley, Rose, Peter and Julia.



8.  Intermezzo: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds from the author.

“Intermezzo” is a short story and is available in an expanded version along with 4 other short stories in A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds.



9. A Sudden Light by Garth Stein from Anna and her family.

When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

What did you receive?

Who Are Your Auto-Buy Authors?


Hello everyone! The holidays are nearly here, but I have a treat for you! If you haven’t liked the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page yet, go do it now.

Beginning Dec. 12 (sometime this afternoon the first pick will be revealed), I’ll reveal one of the books on my Best of 2014 book list, through Dec. 24.

That’s one book from the list per day, with a tidbit about why I loved the book and a link to where you can buy it.

Today, I wanted to talk about those authors we love so much that we buy their books automatically no matter what the subject.  I used to have just a few of those authors, but my list is now growing!  I thought today would be a good day to share not only the older ones on the list, but also the newer ones that have joined the ranks.

My previous list:

  1. Yusef Komunyakaa
  2. Tim O’Brien
  3. Stephen King
  4. Anita Shreve
  5. Amy Tan
  6. Isabel Allende
  7. James Patterson
  8. Anne Rice
  9. Mary Oliver
  10. Billy Collins

My additions to the list:

  1. Beth Kephart
  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey
  3. Jane Odiwe
  4. Syrie James
  5. Abigail Reynolds
  6. Karen White
  7. Beth Hoffman
  8. Jill Mansell
  9. Janel Gradowski
  10. Diana Raab
  11. C.W. Gortner
  12. John Shors

I find it interesting that there are many more female authors being added to my auto-buy list. 

I’m not really sure why so many great female authors are being added to my auto-buy list these days.  It isn’t that I haven’t read some great male authors, but perhaps I need to read more of them to get a true sense of their work and whether I want to buy it automatically no matter the subject.

Do you have auto-buy authors? Who are they?  What attracts you to their work?

Don’t forget to like the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page to find out over the next 12 days which books made the 2014 Best list.

Mailbox Monday #271

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has gone through a few incarnations from a permanent home with Marcia to a tour of other blogs.

Now, it has its own permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

These are some Kindle books I downloaded that I keep forgetting to add:

1. Jane Austen and Food by Maggie Lane

What was the significance of the pyramid of fruit which confronted Elizabeth Bennet at Pemberley? Or of the cold beef eaten by Willoughby on his journey of repentance to see Marianne?

Why is it so appropriate that the scene of Emma’s disgrace should be a picnic, and how do the different styles of housekeeping in Mansfield Park relate to the social issues of the day?

While Jane Austen does not luxuriate in cataloguing meals in the way of Victorian novelists, food in fact plays a vital part in her novels.

2.  Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke

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?


3. Darcy Goes to War by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Spring 1944 – Britain is now in its fourth year of war. In order to defeat Adolph Hitler and his Nazis, everyone in the country must do his or her bit. While a young Elizabeth Bennet makes her contribution by driving a lorry, Fitzwilliam Darcy flies Lancaster bombers over Germany. Because of the war, both are wary of falling in love, but when the two meet near an airbase in Hertfordshire, all bets are off.

Set against the background of World War II, in Darcy Goes to War, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy battle something more than class differences. The greatest evil of the 20th Century is trying to bring Britain to its knees. In order to be together, they must survive the war.

4. A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds

It’s the best of all worlds in this collection of five short Pride & Prejudice variations by bestselling writer Abigail Reynolds. Can Mr. Darcy win Elizabeth Bennet’s heart… or are they doomed to misunderstand one another forever? Can Mr. Darcy stand by and watch while Elizabeth loses everything she holds precious… including him?

Contents include “Such Differing Reports”, “A Succession of Rain”, “Reason’s Rule” (an excerpt from The Rule of Reason), “The Most Natural Thing”, and “Intermezzo”.


5. Darcy on the Hudson by Mary Lydon Simonsen

When Fitzwilliam Darcy, Georgiana Darcy, and Charles Bingley set sail from England to New York, each travels with a different purpose in mind. Georgiana wants to put a particularly jarring incident involving a family friend behind her, and Charles wishes to visit his uncle in an exciting new land. For Darcy, it is an opportunity to explore the possibilities of new sources of wealth in the expanding United States, but once Darcy meets American Elizabeth Bennet, it becomes the beginning of a love story. But will cultural differences and a possible second war with England keep them apart?

6. A Killing in Kensington by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Detective Sergeant Patrick Shea of London’s Metropolitan Police and his new partner, Detective Chief Inspector Tommy Boyle, have been handed a high-profile murder case. In the penthouse of Kensington Tower, playboy Clifton Trentmore lay dead with his head bashed in, and the investigation reveals a man who was loathed by both sexes. With too few clues and too many suspects, Shea and Boyle must determine who hated Trentmore enough to kill him. But as Patrick digs deeper, he finds his suspects have secrets of their own.

A Killing in Kensington is the second in the Patrick Shea mystery series.

7. Becoming Elizabeth Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen

In 2011, American Elizabeth Hannigan, suffering from the flu, falls into a coma and wakes up in the bed and body of Elizabeth Bennet Darcy. Beth soon realizes that the only way back to her life in the 21st Century is through the Master of Pemberley, Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. But first she must uncover the dark secret that brought her to Pemberley in 1826 in the first place.

Becoming Elizabeth Darcy is a story of love, loyalty, and loss, where a modern woman is called upon to resolve the problems of Jane Austen’s most beloved couple.

8. Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott

The year is 1814, and it’s springtime at Pemberley. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have married. But now a new romance is in the air, along with high fashion, elegant manners, scandal, deception, and the wonderful hope of a true and lasting love.

Shy Georgiana Darcy has been content to remain unmarried, living with her brother and his new bride. But Elizabeth and Darcy’s fairy-tale love reminds Georgiana daily that she has found no true love of her own. And perhaps never will, for she is convinced the one man she secretly cares for will never love her in return. Georgiana’s domineering aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, has determined that Georgiana shall marry, and has a list of eligible bachelors in mind. But which of the suitors are sincere, and which are merely interested in Georgiana’s fortune? Georgiana must learn to trust her heart and rely on her courage, for she also faces the return of the man who could ruin her reputation and spoil a happy ending, just when it finally lies within her grasp.

9.  Drawn by Marie Lamba

She’s the artist that finds him in her drawings. He’s the medieval ghost that conquers her heart. And their time is running out.
Michelle De Freccio moves to England seeking a normal life, but someone starts appearing in her sketches. Then he grabs her at the castle, his pale green eyes full of longing. She’s immediately drawn to him, but is Christopher Newman real? She’s either losing it, or channeling a hot ghost from the 1400’s. History calls him a murderer. Her heart tells her other truths. Now Michelle faces endless dangers…and a timeless love.
10.  Ride for Rights by Tara Chevrestt

In the summer of 1916 women do not have the right to vote, let alone be motorcycle dispatch riders. Two sisters, Angeline and Adelaide Hanson are determined to prove to the world that not only are women capable of riding motorbikes, but they can ride motorbikes across the United States. Alone.From a dance hall in Chicago to a jail cell in Dodge City, love and trouble both follow Angeline and Adelaide on the dirt roads across the United States. The sisters shout their triumph from Pike’s Peak only to end up lost in the Salt Lake desert.

Will they make it to their goal of Los Angeles or will too many mishaps prevent them from reaching their destination and thus, hinder their desire to prove that women can do it?

11. All Is Bright by Sarah Pekkanen

Thirty-year-old Elise Andrews couldn’t bring herself to marry Griffin, her childhood friend turned sweetheart, so she let him walk away. Eight months after their breakup, she arrives in her hometown of Chicago on Christmas Eve and hears a voice from the past calling her name in the grocery store. It’s Griffin’s mother, Janice, who invites Elise over for a neighborhood gathering of eggnog and carols.

Walking into Janice’s house sends Elise tumbling headlong into memories of her relationship with Griffin—and with Janice, who exudes the kind of warmth Elise ached for after her own mom passed away when she was six. But Griffin has moved on, and suddenly Elise doubts her decision to give him up and lose her chance at being folded into his wonderful family. Confused and reeling, she goes in search of an answer to a universal question: How do we say good-bye to people we’ve loved without losing everything they’ve meant to us?

12. Love, Accidentally by Sarah Pekkanen

Ilsa Brown wasn’t expecting a little, injured dog to lead her to the love of her life. But within months of their first meeting on a street corner in L.A., she and Grif, the dog’s owner, are engaged. Things between them are so blissful that Ilsa is stunned by the tension that erupts during their visit to Chicago to meet his parents, where she discovers that Grif’s old girlfriend, Elise, is still woven into his family. What Ilsa needs to know before she can walk down the aisle is whether Elise is still in Grif’s heart, too.

What did you receive?

Mr. Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds

Mr. Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds is the latest in her “What If?” series of Pride & Prejudice variations that seeks to uncover how far Darcy will go to woo Lizzy if after his disastrous proposal she accepts one from another man.  Darcy has made his arrogant speech about loving Lizzy against his better judgment and has proposed they get married, and she has refused by the time this book opens.

Lizzy has a dilemma before her; she had hoped to marry for love, but with her sister Jane’s hopes of marrying Mr. Bingley dashed and her continued depression about losing him, Lizzy realizes that she no longer has the luxury to marry for love and must find a suitable man with means to save her family from ruin upon the death of her father.  She takes the responsibility on when a family friend Mr. Covington begins to show interest in her.  After accepting his proposal and resigning herself to a marriage based on necessity and fondness, which she hopes will grow into love, Mr. Darcy arrives on the scene with Mr. Bingley and things get more complicated as she realizes her true feelings for Darcy.

“He inquired after her family as Darcy looked on sardonically, wondering what Elizabeth could possibly see in this dull fellow.  It grated on his nerves every time Covington called her by her name or allowed an admiring look to rest upon her.  Nevertheless, he gave no thought to leaving; as vividly unpleasant as this might be, nothing would induce him to leave Elizabeth alone with Covington while he had a choice in the matter.  There was a certain ironic humour, he reflected, in finding himself as her chaperone.” (page 68-9 ARC)

Told from both Lizzy and Darcy’s point of view, readers get a well-rounded glimpse at the feelings and frustrations they feel about their situation, especially after Lydia runs off with Wickham.  What’s new here is that Lizzy is deflated and more vulnerable, but she remains strong at her core in her convictions.  Scandal has hammered her family’s reputation and she realizes that she is at the center of it and believes that everyone would be best off without her.  Darcy must not only convince her of his love, but that she has not permanently injured her family’s reputation and that she is not a pariah who can destroy his reputation.

“The two men eyed one another for a moment, then Darcy said in a more normal voice, ‘Do you still object to Georgiana’s presence here? I would like her to have the opportunity to get to know Elizabeth.’

‘Good God, Darcy, are you actually asking my opinion? There is a first time for everything!'”  (page 176 ARC)

Reynolds introduces Mr. Covington, Mrs. Covington, and makes sure that fan favorites, like Mr. Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam, are as bright as Lizzy and Darcy.  Each character is vivid and dynamic.  However, Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins, and Charlotte Lucas do not make appearances, but are talked about in passing.  Reynolds is a master at throwing Lizzy and Darcy into new situations that threaten to keep them apart, but the overarching theme is always that love conquers all.  Austen would be proud that Reynolds has taken her characters, helped them evolve into better versions of themselves, and taken them on new journeys.

Mr. Darcy’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds is infused with bawdy conversation, conflict, societal disapprobation, and classic characters with modern sensibilities.  Darcy and Lizzy are no longer pinned down by Regency norms, but are pioneers of modernity and unbridled love and passion.  Reynolds is masterful in her homage to Austen and her wit, while catering to readers’ desire for romance and strong protagonists.  Likely to be one of the first Austen spinoffs to make the end of year “Best of” list.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

This weekend was Dewey’s 24-hour read-a-thon. I read on and off yesterday in between traveling to Anna’s house to celebrate her husband’s birthday. It was a great time and Wiggles was a very happy camper most of the time, but with three teeth coming in at once, she did have her cranky moments.

Ok, so you really want to know how much I read and of what. I finished up Mr. Dary’s Undoing by Abigail Reynolds at 11 PM last night, reading about 250 pages since I started it earlier in the week. Then I read about 10 more pages of Simon Pegg’s memoir, Nerd Do Well, before falling asleep.

Overall, I didn’t get much reading done, but it was fun. How did you do?

Guest Post: Abigail Reynolds Ponders 200th Anniversaries of Jane Austen Novels

Abigail Reynolds is a master at answering the What If? question when it comes to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s romance in her re-tellings.  Whether Mr. Darcy decides to hold his tongue at the Meryton Assembly or doesn’t botch his proposal to her in Kent, Reynolds finds new ways to keep this couple and readers guessing as to whether they will get together.  Mr. Darcy’s Undoing is the latest in her What If? series of books and seeks to uncover how far Darcy will go to woo Lizzy if after his disastrous proposal she accepts one from another man.

Today, Reynolds will share with you what inspires her to write her re-imaginings and what the significance of this year’s 200th anniversary of Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen means to her.  Without further ado, please welcome Abigail.

This year’s Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense & Sensibility. It’s a major event in the Janeite world. Although Pride & Prejudice was the first novel Austen wrote, Sense & Sensibility was the first one published, so it’s our first bicentennial publication event. Pride & Prejudice, Austen’s best known and most popular book, won’t have its 200th anniversary of publication until 2013.

I write variations on Pride & Prejudice, novels in which I’ve taken the original and changed one key event. In my latest release, Mr. Darcy’s Undoing, the change is a whopper. Elizabeth Bennet, rather than remaining single until she encounters Darcy at Pemberley, becomes engaged to another man, a childhood friend whom she cares for and trusts, but doesn’t love. This changes the plot quite decisively, creating dramatic tension about how Darcy and Elizabeth will reach their happy ending. That’s the trick of a variation: to find something that changes the events of the novel but doesn’t interfere with the ending. Most changes I could make to the plot don’t produce dramatic effects. If Darcy doesn’t attend the Meryton Assembly, he’d have the same reaction to Elizabeth at a later date. If Elizabeth didn’t travel to Kent where she re-encounters Darcy, the events there would just take place whenever they next met, or they would never meet again and the ending would be different. I couldn’t make a book out of those.

When I’m asked which Austen heroine I resemble most, it’s an easy call. I’m definitely an Elinor, and as a result, Sense & Sensibility will always be very dear to my heart. It’s tied with Persuasion for my 2nd favorite Jane Austen novel. I’ve often considered doing a variation on it, but it’s hard to find an appropriate turning point to change. Part of that is because the novel follows three romances rather one – Marianne/Willoughby, Marianne/Colonel Brandon, and Elinor/Edward Ferrars. To create a balanced variation, something would have to occur to interfere with all three of those romantic possibilities, but without causing a change in the ending. That’s very tricky, given the complexity of relationships between many of the characters. Another issue for me is that, being an Elinor, it would be hard for me to portray Elinor fairly or Marianne as effectively as I’d like. Persuasion is a more promising candidate for a variation simply because of the possible turning points in it.

Truth be told, aside from attending the JASNA celebration, the 200th anniversary of Sense & Sensibility hasn’t affected me much simply because it’s been overwhelmed by another anniversary for me as an author of Pride & Prejudice variations. It’s also the 200th anniversary of the events of Pride & Prejudice. The Meryton Assembly took place on October 15, 1811. November 12 will be the 200th anniversary of the day Jane Bennet rode through the rain to dine at Netherfield park with the Bingley sisters. I’m involved in a project with many of my fellow authors of Austen-inspired novels at the Austen Authors website wherein we’re tracking the events of Pride & Prejudice in real time. Dubbed the P&P200 project, we take turns portraying missing scenes from Pride & Prejudice and existing scenes from different points of view, and we post them on the 200th anniversary of the given event. It’s turned out to be a fascinating project, not only in making me consider the time frames involved in the book in a different way, but in making me look more closely at secondary characters, and discovering they have backstories of their own that I’ve never considered. It’s a different kind of anniversary celebration, but it’s been enriching my understanding of Jane Austen, and that’s what all my writing is about.

Thanks for hosting me today!

Abigail, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today on Sense & Sensibility and Jane Austen.  Stay tuned for my review of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing at the end of the week.

Mailbox Monday #136 and Library Loot #6

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is A Sea of Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailboxmeme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell for review in September from Sourcebooks.

2.  Out of Breath by Blair Richmond for review in October.

3.  Mr. Darcy's Undoing by Abigail Reynolds from Sourcebooks for review in October.

4.  Mr. Darcy's Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen from Sourcebooks for review in October.

5. Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey from Random House for review in the fall.

Library Loot:

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

1.  Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

2.  Sugar in My Bowl by Erica Jong

What did you receive this week?

What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds

What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds is another variation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.  In this version, Elizabeth and Darcy have an opportunity to express their feelings following her surprise tour of the Pemberley grounds at Lambton just before the news of Lydia’s elopement reaches Elizabeth.  The story begins months after her refusal of Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford, and the plot follows along much of the original story, with stolen kisses and embraces, as well as secret letters.

“Dear Miss Bennet,

It is always a pleasure to hear from you, but I must admit the arrival of your letters is becoming quite a source of entertainment in itself.  My brother thinks I do not notice how he watches for the post now, but how could I miss the way he hovers in an agony of suspense over me when I read your letters until I finally take pity on him and allow him to read for himself, and then he spends no less than half an hour admiring your letter, for it cannot possibly take him so long to read it!”  (page 46 of ARC)

No new characters are introduced, but Reynolds does provide us with a version of Georgiana Darcy that is not seen in the original novel.  She opens up to Lizzy and becomes less reserved once she’s around girls her own age.  However, will the changes in Georgiana be welcome to Darcy or run contrary to his expectations?  And how will this new Georgiana impact Lizzy and Darcy’s relationship?

Unlike the Lizzy in Austen’s novel, Reynold’s Lizzy is more cautious in her assessments of Darcy and his behavior as she realizes her prejudices and misjudgments nearly cost her a love she never knew she had.  Darcy also is more cautious in his dealings with Lizzy.  Readers, however, will be happy to know that each is still impetuous when it comes to one another and their passion.  This is where the novel deviates into a more modern sensibility as Lizzy and Darcy share a few intimate moments — some of which get them into trouble and others that leave them breathless.

Beyond the intimacies of Darcy and Elizabeth and their budding relationship, readers also get a glimpse into Lizzy’s character, particularly how her wit helps her keep an adequate distance from friends and acquaintances and enables her to disengage quickly from distasteful relationships and situations.  Overall, What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds is a delightful escape into Austen’s world with her beloved characters.

To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds is another of the author’s variation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice novel.  In this rendition, Reynolds begins with the premise that Mr. Darcy will not give up after Miss Bennet’s refusal of his marriage proposal and continues to pursue her relentlessly.  However, it does take some convincing by his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Reynolds stays true to Austen’s characters for the most part, and the inner struggle facing Elizabeth is well depicted as she begins to change her mind about Mr. Darcy and his merits as a man and suitor.  Using more modern language and sensibilities, Reynolds updates the classic and will appeal to most modern readers.  However, readers should be warned that there are a number of intimate moments between the couple that are very detailed, which could weigh on certain sensibilities.

Reynolds has successfully created an alternate scenario to Austen’s novel, with the expected cast of characters — the Gardiners, Jane Bennet, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Wickham, and Georgiana.  What readers will enjoy most about this Elizabeth is that she does not cower from her responsibilities as a potential Mistress of Pemberley as she has done in other re-imaginings.  With all the convincing Darcy must do to win Lizzy, readers may think a more apt title for this novel would be To Conquer Miss Bennet.  Overall, To Conquer Mr. Darcy is a delightful look at how things could have been different between Lizzy and Darcy and good summer read.

**Thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me a review copy of To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds for review.

This is my 5th book for the Jane Austen Challenge 2010.

This is my 1st book for the Everything Austen II Challenge.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds

Abigail Reynolds’ Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World examines what it would have happened in Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen had Elizabeth Bennet not refused Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal.  Lizzy is stuck in a situation in which she is forced to accept Darcy’s proposal, or at least she feels that is the case.  The marriage happens quickly and Lizzy is filled with anxiety about her role as Mrs. Darcy, what to expect from her husband, and how to overcome her prejudice against her him.

“Was his pride so great that it did not occur to him she might refuse him? Elizabeth opened her mouth to deny his allegation, but before any sound could emerge, she recognized the danger.”  (Page 6 of ARC)

Reynolds has a firm grasp of Austen’s work and her Pride & Prejudice characters, and that knowledge shines through as we follow Lizzy and Darcy into their alternate universe.  From misunderstandings to barbs, Darcy and Lizzy spar with one another and hide their true feelings as they fear the other’s reproach.  The servants and the housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, are just as they should be — hovering on the outskirts and ready to lend help when necessary.

“But when he turned his head sideways on the pillow, his eyes clouded with the drug, she leaned towards him to meet his lips with her own.  It was a gentle kiss, but his lips were hot against hers.  Elizabeth almost shook with the emotion of it.”  (Page 108 of ARC)

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World is a treat that will transport readers into regency England with a set of new and old characters.  Lizzy and Darcy may be one of the greatest classic love stories, and Reynoldsspin on the love story reads like a classic.  Lizzy is still strong-willed, but tentative in her new marriage and her new circumstances.  Darcy is a bit harsh at times, but readers will forgive him his transgressions.  Readers should be cautioned that there are some intimate scenes that give this novel a more contemporary feel.  All in all, this is a delightful variation.

***Giveaway Details***

Sourcebooks is offering 2 copies of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World to U.S./Canadian readers of this blog.

1.  Leave a comment on this interview about what you would like to ask Abigail Reynolds.
2.  Leave a comment on my review of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
3.  Blog, tweet, Facebook, etc. this giveaway and leave a link here.

Deadline is Jan. 11, 2010, 11:59PM EST

FTC Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy from the Sourcebooks for review.  Clicking on titles or images can bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated. 

This is my 1st book for the Jane Austen Challenge 2010!

Interview With Abigail Reynolds, Author of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Abigail Reynolds, who wrote Pemberley by the Sea (which I reviewed), has written other variations of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice characters and situations.  In her latest novel, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World, Reynolds examines what would have happened had Elizabeth Bennet not refused Mr. Darcy’s proposal.

Abigail took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few interview questions for her tour stop here.  Please give her a warm welcome, and stay tuned for giveaway information.

1.  Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World is just one of a number of Pride & Prejudice variations you’ve written.  Is this the first one you’ve published through Sourcebooks?  How did that come to pass?  

The first variation I published through Sourcebooks was Impulse & Initiative, and this is the second.  There are four more on the way, including the brand-new Mr. Darcy’s Obsession coming out in October 2010.  I took an unusual road to publication.  I wrote the variations for fun and posted them on the internet, then eventually self-published them just for myself and for some of my online readers.  To my astonishment, Deb Werksman, acquiring editor of Sourcebooks, found them on the self-publishing site and bought the publication rights.  Now Sourcebooks is gradually bringing out the entire series.  I’d never have guessed in a million years that I’d be published!

2.  Your variations on Pride & Prejudice look a significant turning points in Jane Austen’s novel and asks the question “What if?” (such as the ill-fated proposal from Darcy to Elizabeth, which she promptly refuses).  Do you have other major scenes from other Austen novels in mind for a similar series of books

I love all of Austen’s novels (well, maybe I don’t exactly love Mansfield Park, but I admire it), but none of them play out in my head the way Pride & Prejudice does.  Part of the appeal is that I love the characters so much.  When I’m writing, my characters take up residence in my head for months on end, so it’s helpful if they’re characters I like!  I’m not sure I could put up with, say, Emma in my mind for such a long time, given that I always want to strangle her when I read Emma.

3.  Do you have any particular writing habits, like listening to music while writing or having a precise page count to reach by the end of each day or week?  

I tend to write late at night, often with solo classical piano playing in the background because it puts me in a Regency frame of mind.  I often pick up Pride & Prejudice or Jane Austen’s letters and read a couple of pages to get the rhythm of her language going, and sometimes I even type some of it out to get myself started. 

4.  Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero and why? 

Mr. Darcy, with Colonel Brandon as a close second.  Darcy’s shift from his early unpleasant behavior to his later changes fascinates me, and of course his devotion to Elizabeth for her wit and intelligence rather than her beauty is a major item in his favor!

5.  Most authors using classic characters and stories to spur their own creations fell in love with those characters and stories early on, but wanted something more.  Is this how you felt about Pride & Prejudice?  What motivated you to craft your own tale based upon Jane Austen’s story

I’ve always thought that Pride & Prejudice was too short for my taste, and I wish Jane Austen had written out all those scenes she refers to in passing, just so I could have a little more Elizabeth and Darcy.  You won’t be surprised to hear that Pride & Prejudice is my favorite book, and it’s gotten to the point where I sometimes talk back to the characters.  One day I was re-reading the scene at the Lambton Inn for the umpteenth time.  When Darcy left giving Elizabeth only a long, serious look, I wanted to scream, “No!  Don’t do it!  Tell her how you feel!  Give her some hope!  She can’t read your mind, idiot!”  I was so annoyed with him that I sat down and started writing From Lambton to Longbourn, just to show Darcy what I meant.  Yes, sometimes I’m a little too obsessed with Pride & Prejudice

6.  Why choose Jane Austen novels versus other classic authors’ novels. 

Sheer love of the characters and of Jane Austen’s voice and world view.  As one of my characters says in Pemberley by the Sea, I like my coffee with cream and my literature with optimism.  There isn’t that much classic literature that deals with loveable characters and ends happily ever after.  I like books that can be comfort food of the soul.  I don’t think I could take the darkness of Charlotte Bronte for long, for example. 

7.  Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would like to recommend? 

I’ve just finished Marilyn Brant’s delightful According to Jane, which tells the story of a modern young woman who has Jane Austen giving her advice in her head.  Another recent favorite is Robin Kaye’s hysterically funny Romeo, Romeo.  I’ve also been reading Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study series with my teenage daughter.  I’d happily recommend all of those!

8.  Finally, following Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, do you have any other projects in the works? Do they deal with other classic literature or do you see yourself flourishing in the Pride and Prejudice market?   

I’ve finished the first draft of another Pride & Prejudice variation, and I have some ideas for a Pride & Prejudice sequel in my mind.  I’ve been working on a series of modern novels that continue the story of Pemberley by the Sea (which is being re-released in mass market paperback in Spring 2010 as The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice) but aren’t directly Jane Austen-related, but it remains to see if those will ever see the light of day because the market for general contemporary romance isn’t strong these days.  I write for love more than for the market, so I write whatever my muse sends me, but the Pride & Prejudice related stories are the ones that are most likely to be picked up by a publisher.
Thanks for inviting me!

Thanks Abigail for answering my questions and for writing fun novels with our beloved Elizabeth and Darcy!

FTC Disclosure:  Clicking on image and title links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate Page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.

***Giveaway Details***

Sourcebooks is offering 2 copies of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy:  The Last Man in the World to U.S./Canadian readers of this blog.

1.  Leave a comment on this interview about what you would like to ask Abigail Reynolds.
2.  Leave a comment on tomorrow’s review of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
3.  Blog, tweet, Facebook, etc. this giveaway and leave a link here.

Deadline is Jan. 11, 2010, 11:59PM EST