For more bookish posts, go to It’s 5 O’ Clock Somewhere
For more bookish posts, go to It’s 5 O’ Clock Somewhere
A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma by Joan Austen-Leigh
So you all know that I’m not really into diary novels, well that doesn’t apply to epistles, letters, novels. I don’t mind reading books made up of letters (as long as they aren’t solely love letters-that makes me feel like a voyeur).
And that is what this book is about. It is a view of the novel Emma told in letters. But the letters aren’t between Emma, Harriet, Jane, Mr. Weston, Mrs. Weston or Mr. Knightley. Instead the author choose to tell the story from Mrs. Goddard’s point of view, the headmistress of the school that Harriet attends.
I know. At first I didn’t want to read this book. Mrs. Goddard is hardly even in the story except when she brings Harriet to meet Emma and start the two’s friendship. I couldn’t fathom why they would pick her over any other character.
In fact, the story is told between Mrs. Goddard and her sister Mrs. Charlotte Pinkney, who is living in London after a hasty marriage.
I wasn’t sure if I would like it but decided to start reading so I could post a review.
So I read it and…
I was so surprised but I loved every page of it and couldn’t stop reading.
The characters were amazing. Mrs. Goddard is very sensible and tries to provide a good home for the girls at her school. She cares heavily for each one and tries to help them as much as she can. She even cares deeply for her staff, as when one maid gets pregnant and the father won’t marry or take care of her-Mrs. Goddard helps her out and keeps her job open for her return.
Mrs. Pinkney has always been happy and a spendthrift. After her husband died and she was left with his debts, she married quickly to the wealthy family friend, Mr. Pinkney. At first she is upset, angry, whiney, and just unhappy as she is still grieving the changes in her life and that her new marriage isn’t so fun and flitty: Mr. Pinkey is more concerned over finances than anything else. She is bored and lonely and instead of working on her marriage devotes all her time to writing her sister.
Mrs. Goddard writes to her everything that is happening in Highbury, even though she thinks the news to be nothing and rather dull.
But Mrs. Pinkney gets caught up in the tales and the story of Emma. Besides that she befriends a young girl, Charlotte, from the school next door (a horribly run establishment). Having her lightens up the home and brings Mr. and Mrs. Pinkney together as they both enjoy Charlotte’s company. They even take her to Bath.
There Charlotte meets a sailor and begins correspondence with him. Mr. Pinkey’s Admiral friend also agrees to look into whether Charlotte’s father is still alive, if survived the storm that took his boat.
As Mr. and Mrs. Pinkney draw closer together, he too becomes interested in the news of Highbury and the story of Emma.
Now I read an article not to long ago how Emma is a mystery, but thought nothing of it as it didn’t really seem like a mystery to me.
But then in this book Mrs. Goddard, Mrs. Pinkney, and Mr. Pinkney all collaborate to figure out different elements of the story. Who is Mr. Elton really after to be his wife?
Why is Mr. Elton so angry at Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith?
Why does Harriet refuse Mr. Robert Martin when it was clear she was crazy about him?
Who gives Jane Fairfax the piano?
Why do Harriet and Emma suddenly stop being friends?
Who does Mr. Knightley wish to marry?
And much more. The three are on the case:
I thought it was fantastic story telling. Joan Austen-Leigh knows how to have the perfect balance of the original characters:
With brand new, interesting, and fun characters
It was fun, captivating, and as said before, a real page turner.
I highly recommend it for any Jane Austen or Emma fan. This is one book that you shouldn’t miss out on.
For more on Emma, go to TO the Person Who Hated My Review of Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version
For more Emma variations, go to Baby Jane Austen
For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues
For more book-filled posts, go to Period Days are Reading Days
For more on L. M. Montgomery, go to Should We Pity Miss Bates or Strive to Be Her?
So with everything that happened in July and with GISHWHES, I realized I totally forgot to post the last book we read for Book Club.
Just in case for anyone new, I started a book club with three other people. There is no theme or restrictions, just every month a different person has a turn to pick a book, we read it for the month, and afterwards meet to talk about it. Fun for everyone.
Last month’s pick was:
A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers
I first started reading Francine Rivers’ novels when a friend recommended Redeeming Love (a fantastic book that I strongly recommend). Afterwards, I started reading as many of her books as I could get a copy of. This one I put on my to-read list like five years ago and forgot all about it. I mean you know about to-read lists.
So when my friend brought it out as a suggestion, I was all for it.
The story actually follows four main characters and how their lives intersect with each other, the decisions they make, and how they grow or regress as characters.
Hadassah is living in a time where Rome is in complete control and being Jewish or Christian can mean death. Unfortunately for Hadassah, she is both.
Yes, her parents were both Jewish but her father converted to Christianity when Jesus raised him from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). Her married Hadassah’s mother (who also converted to Christianity) and the two raised their three children as Christians.
Their lives have gone incredibly downhill as Rome marches on Jerusalem destroying it, with all of Hadassah’s family being murdered. Hadassah finds herself unsure how she will continue on with her weak faith and uncertain future. Will she be able to trust God through it all?
Hadassah is saved from being killed; manages to survive the march to Rome, gets through a lice-filled boat, barely is maneuvered from becoming a temple prostitute, and is bought by a Jewish slave for his master, going into the powerful Valerian family. There she is given to serve the selfish, young, and beautiful Julia Valerian. Hadassah faces many ups and downs trying to live her Christian faith, set an example to others; while trying to walk the thin line that separates her from being thrown to the lions as a pre-show for the gladiatorial games.
She finds herself becoming friends with Julia’s older brother Marcus, praying hard for him and his family. But as her connection to Marcus grows stronger:
She finds herself unsure what path to take. Will Hadassah be able to serve God and receive a happy ending? Or will she cross that line and enter temptation? Or worse, death?
Atretes is a prince from Germany known for his wildness, strength, courage, and ability. After the death of his father he finds himself being handed the kingship and given a prophecy: a dark haired woman as his lover, being known throughout Rome, he will triumph over his foes, and being able to free his people from slavery.
However, in the next battle skirmish, Atretes is captured by Roman soldiers. He tried hard to be killed in battle, but they decide to keep him and train him to become a gladiator.
At first he refuses to play along, but eventually becomes the star fighter as he discovers the only way to win his freedom is to follow along.
He achieves, money, fame, etc.; but still remains a slave and not given real freedom. His life changes when he meets Julia Valerian. She comes to him willingly, paying heavily to be with him. She appears to be everything foreseen by his mother and he begins to fall for her, and changes his perspective of “the game” as he fights for money, freedom, and the ability to marry the person he loves.
But will Atretes fullfill his prophecies of the woman he loves, overpower Rome, and free his people? Or will he discover that Rome doesn’t fight fair and that he will never truly be free from its grasp?
Marcus Valerian grew up in a time of strife that has settles into prosperity and peace. His only hobbies in life are pursuing whatever pleases him: mostly making money and winning women. However, Marcus quickly becomes bored with this lifestyle and is always pursuing making more money and a harder challenge.
He is constantly going to the gladiator games, but becomes bored with those as well in life.
His father tries to instill a moral code in him, but Marcus refuses to listen to anything his father says as he feels that his father is “too old” and “behind the times”. He thinks his way is the best and his lifestyle-something he ends up instilling in his younger, naive, and impressionable sister.
But when Hadassah enters the house she starts a ripple effect of a change of atmosphere. Everything about her and her beliefs challenges his lifestyle and the choices he is making in life.
Will Marcus find something real to fill his life? Will he ever be happy? Or will the choices he has made come back to bite him?
Julia is the Marcus’ younger sister and has been sheltered her whole life and given every whim. In an effort to reshape her character and give her more morals, her parents give her Hadassah to be her servant; hoping that Hadassah’s kind and gentle spirit will rub off on Julia.
But all Julia cares about is being beautiful, idolizing her brother Marcus and his values, and seeks to become the most sough after gal in Rome. She ends up trusting women who are bad influences that like to manipulate her, not listening to any of the advice her parents try to give her.
She is married off to a kind man, but is too selfish and self-centered to appreciate him. Instead she sets her eyes on a handsome gladiator she sees training, Atretes. Later her foolish and heedless behavior causes the death of her husband, and she and Hadassah are sent back to her parent’s house.
Through it all Hadassah loves and cares for Julia as a sister, even when Julia is rude, crude, overbearing, etc.
Once again Julia chooses friends who don’t have her best interest at heart and are using her. She also marries a handsome, but abusive man. After she grows tired of being treated so cruelly she makes a decision that leads her down a dark path. As Julia continues to make bad decisions and hurt those around her, will Hadassah continue to care and help her? Will Julia turn from her dark choices? Will she have a happy ending? Or will she continue on her trail of destruction?
So what did I think of it?
I thought it was amazing! I started reading and I couldn’t stop:
And if that wasn’t enough, when I read the ending I was in SHOCK!!!
I quickly ran to get the sequel (literally ran)
The book was phenomenal. From Hadassah’s character:
To Marcus’ growth of character:
And all the twists and turns the novel took. You never knew what was going to happen next.
I definitely recommend it.
For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Darcy Monologues
For more Christian fiction, go to The Austen Series: Reason and Romance
For more bible verses, go to Should We Pity Miss Bates or Strive to Be Her?
Who likes to eat?
Me too. I don’t really post recipes on her, leaving that to my sister blog Mysterious Eats.
Weeeeeeeeeeelll…with one exception. If it has to do with Jane Austen or a tea party, I review and post it.
Last year I helped put on a tea, and fashioned it after a teahouse I used to go to when I lived near Santa Rosa. They would always serve scones (I did the Cheddar-Thyme Scones and the Harvest Pumpkin Scones) and tea sandwiches. You could also add on tarts, little turnovers, salad, or soup.
This soup may not be a real “tea soup”, but I thought it was tasty, easy to make, and fancy looking.
- 3 Tablespoons of Onion, finely chopped
- 5 Tablespoons of Butter
- 5 Tablespoons of Flour
- 1 14-oz can of Chicken Broth
- 1/3 Cup of Cheddar Cheese, grated
- 1 Baked Potato (6-7 inch baker), cold, cut into bite-sized pieces.
- 2 Cups of Half-and-Half
- 1 Cup of Milk
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
- 6 Slices of Bacon, cooked, broken into bits (Or use Bacon Bits)
- Cheddar Cheese, to go on top
- Sauté the onions in butter.
- While stirring, slowly add the flour and then the chicken broth.
- Cook until it thickens.
- Add the cheddar cheese, stirring until it melts.
- Then add the potato, leaving the skin on the pieces.
- Finally stir in the half-and-half and the milk.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Top each serving with crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese.
It is a fantastic tasting soup, and having cooked the potatoes it takes like no time at all.
The only thing is that you have to be careful when adding the milk or half-and-half. The lactose sugar in them can burn and ruin the dish, so you have to keep stirring. The more you stir the less likely it will burn.
One time I had my niece hep me and I felt like that scene in Goodfellas when Henry Hill keeps telling his brother to watch the sauce. Just like Michael she didn’t enjoy the stirring.
But it was easy, delicious, and will be a great addition to any future tea parties or dinners.
For more recipes, go to Triple Berry Salad