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Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

Source: Publisher
Ebook, 486 pgs
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Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd is a collection of stories that explore the rational side of Jane Austen’s characters, delving deep into what makes them tick. From Louisa Musgrove who leaps from the Cobb and is severely injured to Hetty Bates, the spinster who chatters away. Sixteen Austen-inspired stories are within the covers of this anthology, and each one will shed light on some of Austen’s most modern thinking characters. But don’t be fooled by the title because this collection also has the romance many Austen readers desire.

Imagine Elinor Dashwood sketching her beloved knowing he belongs to another, pouring her deep passion and melancholy into his visage with such care. “He has found it, she thought, not daring (not wanting) to break the intensity of his gaze. Could he see, in that drawing and in her face, all she wanted of him? What would he do if she were to reach out and touch him — to feel for herself the line of his jaw, the arch of his brow, the fullness of his bottom lip?” (from “Self-Composed” by Christina Morland)

Readers also get a glimpse into Charlotte Lucas and her thoughts on marriage and her longing for a life like her friend Elizabeth Bennet — a life filled with love. We find that Hetty Bates may be more like Elizabeth Bennet than we’d think, having spurned a marriage proposal. Perhaps Ms. Bates is Ms. Bennet’s alter ego, had Mr. Darcy not strove to improve himself and hope she’d accept him. Even Fanny Price, who many see as weak, is brought into a new light in “The Meaning of Wife” by Brooke West. “Edmund did not truly know her at all, choosing only to see the young woman he expected her to be. It struck her as darkly amusing that for years she had longed for Edmund to look upon her with desire but, now that his heart had found his way to her, she could find none of the expected joy.”

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd offers so much in these short stories but at it’s heart is about women who are searching for their own love stories, even if they are ridiculed, hated, and ignored by others. Isn’t love the most redeeming for us all. Each of these characters is given new life by these authors and their stories are as beautifully engaging as the originals written by Jane Austen herself.

Rating: Quatrain

Yuletide edited by Christina Boyd

Source: Purchased by my Secret Santa
Paperback, 190 pgs.
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Yuletide edited by Christina Boyd includes short stories around Christmas time in Pride & Prejudice‘s Darcy and Bennet households in Regency and modern times from Amy D’Orazio, Caitlin Williams, Anngela Schroeder, J. Marie Croft, Elizabeth Adams, Joana Starnes, and Lona Manning. Each story holds true to the characters, but places them in different situations at Christmas time.

Caitlin Williams’ “The Forfeit” has Elizabeth Bennet acting as frivolous and giddy as her younger sisters as she gets ready for the local ball. Her little wager with Mr. Darcy is one that could leave her vulnerable at the hands of a wealthy man, but readers know that the wager is friendly and Mr. Darcy is a stand-up guy of character. “It was only when she was sunk deep into the iron tub that she realised she had spent the last two hours in much the same fashion as Lydia and Kitty, minus, thankfully, some very silly giggling.” (pg. 20).

Other stories in the collection find the married Darcy’s enjoying some old and new traditions, together. But one of my favorites is “The Wishing Ball” by Amy D’Orazio engages readers in a mystery where Darcy has made a wish without actually making a wish, causing some confusion to a lonely single man of great fortune. But it also provides some comedy when his sister learns about the wish inside. “‘So some other man…another man, with the initials FDG and a tendency to make the letter I like he went to prep school in England, bought this ball, wrote a wish, placed it inside, then sealed it up, and returned it. Then I, your sister, just happened to come along and buy it? That’s your hypothesis?'” (pg. 52)

All of the stories in the collection will provide readers with a glimpse of Christmas time festivities in the Darcy and Bennet houses, but they also offer a unique look at how the Christmas spirit can enable Darcy and Lizzy to rethink their behavior towards one another and learn to be more charitable and forgiving.

Yuletide edited by Christina Boyd is a delightful collection of short stories with some of our favorite Pride & Prejudice characters learning to be more patient, kind, and forgiving. It was the perfect read for the holiday season.

RATING: Cinquain

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Power of Song by Anngela Schroeder

A Lie Universally Hidden by Anngela Schroeder envisions an Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy on parallel courses to marry out of duty and for money. Readers will wonder how these characters could ever come together for their happily ever after as Jane Austen prepared for them. I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I wanted to share with you a little about the book and a guest post from Anngela Schroeder. And, there’s a giveaway!

Book Synopsis:

Fitzwilliam Darcy was raised to never stray from the path set before him: ensure the continued prosperity of his estate, Pemberley, protect and educate his sister to become an accomplished woman, and marry the woman his mother chose for him—his cousin Anne de Bourgh. With a letter bearing his late mother’s signature, Darcy presumes his fate is sealed and prepares to wed one he does not love. However, his destiny begins to unravel when he glimpses a pair of fine eyes on a quiet, country road.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second daughter of a respectable though insignificant gentleman. She is flattered to have captured the attention of a local squire, a childhood friend, and everyone believes her path is secure—until a handsome, rich gentleman arrives at a neighboring estate. Happenstance begets the unlikely pair together, bridging a forbidden love long past a mere friendship.

In A Lie Universally Hidden, two of literature’s most beloved romance characters are destined to marry for fortune and obligation rather than love. How will Darcy and Elizabeth fulfill their true destiny under such circumstances? Shall honor, decorum, prudence—nay, a signed letter from the grave—forbid it?

Please welcome Anngela Schroeder — who was recently interviewed on Good Day Sacramento — as she talks about the power of song in her new novel, A Lie Universally Hidden.

Serena, I’m so excited to join you and your readers today at Savvy Verse & Wit. My little book has been on a whirlwind journey these last two weeks, and I am grateful for such a hospitable stop to be its last.

I thought long and hard about what to pen for today, and decided I was going to focus on one aspect of my story which to some may be insignificant, yet it is actually a thread tying two characters together. These characters will never meet, but the song, “The Rose of Tralee,” sung by their lips, has a similar effect on Darcy.

We first hear the song in Chapter 1, when Lady Anne Darcy, on her deathbed, is singing it to her beloved son, Fitzwilliam. The words seem innocuous enough when we hear the lyrics from the first verse: “The pale moon was rising above the green mountain, the sun was declining beneath the blue sea, when I strayed with my love to the pure crystal fountain, that stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee…” The song continues on about two young lovers who are destined to be apart and how the young man longs for Mary, his Rose of Tralee.

I took liberties by using this song in the novel, the main one that it was not written until roughly 1843, thirty years after my story takes place. However, once you hear the history of the piece, you’ll understand my need to incorporate it in my book.

Written by Irishman William Mulchinock, ‘The Rose of Tralee’ is an elegy of the life he briefly had, but then it was snatched away from him. Having been born into wealth, he was visiting his family’s estate, when he went up to the nursery to see his nieces, and he met the new nursemaid, Mary O’Keefe. He fell in love immediately with her. Unfortunately, his family objected to his feelings, and things became even more complicated when circumstances came about in his life and he was accused of murder. (I really couldn’t make this story up!) He was sent to India to avoid prosecution, and stayed there for six years. Upon his return to Ireland, he discovered that his love had died only days before his return. He then married and moved to America, before abandoning his wife and two children to return to his homeland and die alone.

In my novel, Lady Anne sung it as an old Irish folk melody, and that is how William had always recognized it. But, when he heard Elizabeth sing it in the emptiness of Ashby Park, the meaning became clear to him. It was not longer the sweet ballad of his youth. It now had even more significant meaning to him. Here she was before him; his own Rose of Tralee, Elizabeth Bennet: she who he loved, but could never have. They were destined to be apart because of their own social standings, as well as preexisting circumstances beyond, what they believed to be, their control.

The song itself also speaks of the depths of Darcy’s love: that it was not a superficial kind of feeling. “Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me; oh no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning, that made me love Mary the Rose of Tralee.” A pair of fine eyes, perhaps? Darcy’s love also was not based solely on Elizabeth’s physical appearance. We know that she had more accomplishments to recommend herself, yet painting tables and netting purses were things that were of little consequence to him. Darcy wanted a woman of substance, and that is what he found in Elizabeth Bennet, the one woman who he felt spoke to him like no one else, save his mother, the first love of all little boys.

I sprinkled this song throughout the story, always trying to connect Elizabeth and Darcy with Lady Anne, in an attempt to wreak havoc on Darcy’s understanding of himself and his mother. Whenever he thought things were under control, ­ BAM! There was the song, throwing off his equilibrium.

I do hope you have enjoyed this look into this meaningful aspect of my story, and I hope it helps you understand Darcy’s struggles a wee bit more.

About the Author:

She has a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Masters in Education. She loves to travel, bake, and watch college football with her husband of 16 years and 3 rambunctious sons. She lives in California where Anngela dreams of Disney adventures and trips across the pond. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

Giveaway:

Anngela is giving away two autographed hard copies (US mailing addresses only), 2 kindle versions (Open to international winners), an autographed copy of Then Comes Winter (US mailing address only) and an autographed 5×7 of the A Lie Universally Hidden book cover.

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Good luck!