An Appearance of Goodness

An Appearance of Goodness by Heather Moll

I received this advanced reader copy free in exchange for an honest review.

What if in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy gave Elizabeth his letter at Rosing Park, immediately left to tell Charles Bingley his regret at separating him and Jane, and let Mr. Bennet know what happened to his sister?

What if Mr. Bennet never let Lydia run off with Mrs Forester and the officers? What if she never was compromised and forced to marry Wickham?

Hmm…?

Well that is the alternate universe this adaption takes place. In this Bingley immediately came to ask for Jane’s hand, the two married, and as Mr. Bingley was told through Bingley not only what happened to Georgiana (but also of Wickham’s debts), Mr. Bennet the family were not disgraced and Darcy wasn’t needed to save the day.

Instead Mr. and Mrs. Bingley (plus Elizabeth) have been living at Netherfield Park. A very happy circumstance for all, except that Mrs. Bennet comes too often with her friends. Mr. Bingley decides a break is needed and intends to take Jane to meet all his friends this summer, ending their vacation in Scarborough. He also invites his sister Caroline Bingley, his other sister Mrs. Hurst, her husband Mr. Hurst, and Elizabeth to accompany him.

As they travel they have fun meeting all Bingley’s friends, stopping of course to visit his best friend; Mr. Darcy at Pemberley. Mr. Darcy has been in anguish over his rejected proposal, but in light of what had happened he tried to fix his mistakes, continuously works hard better himself, and is eager to host a party at his beloved home. Staying with him will be Georgina Darcy: her companion/governess Mrs. Annesley; his friend Lewis Balfour; Balfour’s sister and rich widow, Mrs Lanyon; Mr. Utterson, a newer acquaintance training in law; along with Mr. Bingley and his party.

What Mr. Darcy was not expecting was to find Elizabeth along the party. At first the two are rather awkward around each other; but as Darcy’s feelings remain steadfast and loyal to her, he tries his best to show how her words have affected and changed him, while trying not to make her uncomfortable.

Stuck inside due to heavy rainfalls, Elizabeth thought being at Pemberley with Mr. Darcy would be truly terrible. However, the more time she spends there with him; the more she realizes that her view of him was discolored and finds herself not only enjoying time with him but actively seeking it out.

“On closer examination, there was a certain gentleness in his eyes, and often a humour in his look. Had that always been there, or was she now a better observer of him?”

Elizabeth Bennet from An Appearance of Goodness

Elizabeth falls for him and is trying to find a way to show or tell him, when there lovely trip goes to complete ruin. The very heavy rainfalls have caused incredible damage to the fields, crops, bridge, mills, homes, etc. Tensions run high and Darcy is pulled in every directions as he tries to help take care of everything and every one of his tenets. This is not the time to propose as not only is it a very depressing time but he isn’t even sure if he will have anything to offer after all this.

Crying! [Still from The Wolf Man (1941)]

Elizabeth was certain that Mr. Darcy was heading toward a proposal but after all the aftermath of the storms it looks as if that will not be happening anytime in the future. She is heartbroken at all that has happened and wishes she could be there for Mr. Darcy, but as she is just the sister-in-law of his friend she has no place acting as is they are more “familiar”. Elizabeth does all she can while following propriety, but if only she could do more.

Mr. Bingley wants to make things easier on his dear friend Mr. Darcy and will take his party to stay with other friends to help him; leaving Mr. Utterson, Mr. Balfour, and Mrs. Lanyon behind. As Mr. Bingley is going, so will be Elizabeth and any chance of them being more…

Aw!

Luckily, Mrs. Lanyon loves to matchmake, having been instrumental in assisting Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. She asks is Elizabeth could stay and be her companion; and Elizabeth eager to have more time with Mr. Darcy readily agrees.

Mrs. Lanyon right now

Things are still dire and Darcy is hanging on; but knowing he still has chance with Elizabeth has him feeling like things are looking up…except they aren’t.

That’s not good.

While in the middle of clean up the body of Georgiana’s lady’s maid is found in the river. At first Darcy believe her to be Elizabeth as she is wearing her coat, but upon closer examination they discover her the identity and that she has been murdered. How? By a silver candlestick stolen from Pemberley. The reason for the murder is uncertain: could it be she saw something she shouldn’t? Perhaps she was in an illicit relationship? Could she be pregnant and the father not wishing to be in her life? Could she know something the killer does not want to get out?

Wait a minute! This is a mystery?!!! I didn’t realize that. A mystery?!!! I got this!!!

Mystery, you say?

So suspects, after looking into everyone it comes down to the murderer is someone in Darcy’s home. Darcy, Georgiana, Mrs. Annesley, and Mrs. Lanyon are all cleared as r wh have alibis and people to back up their whereabouts. After careful discussion Elizabeth and Darcy discover the only ones who could have murdered the lady’s maid would be either Mr. Balfour or Mr. Utterson.

Time to get on the case!

To be honest, I could not care for either of these characters so I wasn’t upset with them being suspects and was okay with either of them being the villain. I found both to be annoying and odd that Darcy could consider either to be his friends; but as they say love is blind.

Suspect 1: Lewis Balfour

Mr. Darcy has been friends with Mr. Balfour for years and Balfour was there for him when his father passed. Mr. Balfour is biracial (Scottish and Indian) and when his father passes will inherit the family estate. Right now he has no real purpose and lounges about spending money for the fun of it, although he appears to live far outside the allowance given to him by his father (and complains about it).

Balfour is not known to be a maid chasing Lothario and has a pleasant nature. He doesn’t seem to have a reason to murder someone. Could it be him?

Suspect #2: Mr. Utterson

Mr. Utterson is a newer acquaintance to and. Darcy and not as well known to him. Utterson is a second son and is forever in the middle of getting his law degree and lives on an allowance granted by his father. He never seems to have enough money, constantly complaining about the lack of it, along with making very rude jealous remarks.

There are a few stories of Utterson ravishing Lord Poole’s daughter, but rumors aren’t fact and could be true or false. He also has a very mercurial and intense nature. Of course the motive most likely is that he killed for money, possibly stealing; but would Utterson have risked stealing from someone like Mr. Darcy, a man he considered a friend?

Our Regency Scooby-Doo crew is rounded out by the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam who journeyed to assist in the emergency services. Will these three be able to discover the murderer before he strikes again, or will this be there final case?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

I enjoyed this novel, especially the mystery aspect, as I love mysteries and try to solve them before the characters do. I was fairly certain I knew who the murderer was and why they did it, and was most pleased to discover that I figured it out. My only criticism on that mystery is that I wish the cover looked a little more mysterious as I didn’t realize it was a whodunit until I saw it on goodreads. Although what should be added I’m not quite sure. Maybe the candlestick that was the murder weapon or a question mark at the end of the title?

I felt that Moll did a great job with Austen’s characters as the Bingleys, Bennets, Georgiana, the Hursts, Colonel Fitzwilliam, etc; were all done well did Austen justice while still being Moll’s creation.

The only thing I felt was not quite right was with Darcy’s character. Bit of a spoiler (not too much) I didn’t like that Darcy and Elizabeth slept together before being married. I’m not saying that didn’t happen in 1813, but I personally feel like Mr. Darcy is too much of a gentleman and so proper that he would wait, especially as he strives to be the nothing like his nemesis, Mr. Wickham.

Moll introduced several new characters and I did enjoy most of them. Utterson and Balfour as I said before really annoyed me as they have money, just not as much as they want, and complain constantly about their lot. At first I was hoping they would just exit the story, but when they turned out to be murder suspects I didn’t mind. As I didn’t like either of them I was content to have either of them turn out to be the killer. By the end of the novel, one of the men is a bit more likable as we are given his story and brought understanding as to why he is so eager for money.

I really loved the character of Mrs. Lanyon a LOT. I myself am biracial and growing up there wasn’t a lot of representation in any type of media. With this novel I really enjoyed how Mrs. Lanyon discusses her interactions with people and the racism and ignorance she faces. Even thought he book is set in 1813, the experiences described are still issues people face today.

My only warning would be that while this book does contain comedy, romance, and mystery; parts of the book are very sad especially in regards to the flooding. Thus far I have only read two of Moll’s books and she seems to be one who enjoys combing multiple elements in a nice balance.

I do recommend for those who enjoy Austen adaptations.

For more by Heather Moll, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Beside Two Rivers

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptions, go to The Clergyman’s Wife + The Question is Mr. Collins Really THAT Bad?

For more Jane Austen adaptations, go to The Emma Project

For more mysteries, go to I Won the Ellery Adams’ September 2020 Giveaway + My Review of the First Two Books in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society Series

Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Emma

Emma (Jane Austen Children’s Stories #4) by Jane Austen, adapted by Gemma Barder

I did not originally plan to purchase both the Northanger Abbey and Emma adaptations in this series so close together. If I had I would have done a dual post like I did for the Babylit series. I was just going to purchase the Northanger Abbey one, but a couple weeks after my cousin’s birthday party I discovered that my friend moved her daughter’s birthday party up to the first weekend in June. I needed a present stat and I always buy her a book and toy for her birthday.

So when I was trying to find a book for a 7 year old, the first thing that popped in my head was to get another one book from the Jane Austen Children’s Stories.

As I mentioned in my previous review, any time I spot a children’s book that has to do with Jane Austen, I try and purchase it to gift to them and hopefully influence spark a love of Jane Austen in them.

The Jane Austen Children’s Stories series takes the text of Jane Austen and adapts it for children who are reading on their own and want something longer than a beginning reader, but not quite ready for thick chapter books. Each novel has easy to read text, illustrations, but at the same time still retains the plot of the original novels.

The recommended age for this series is 7-10 years old. The series has adapted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Love and Friendship. You can buy them individually at ~$7 a paperback (hardcover is ~$12 per book) or in a set of all seven in paperback form (plus a journal) for ~$27.

Emma is the story of a girl who has been mistress of her house and doted on by her father. After her governess marries (a match she believes she put together) she becomes bored and intends on trying her hand at matchmaking. She pygmalions her new acquaintance, Harriet Smith, and plans to set her up with the new minister. Things do not go according to plan as her matches do not take hold and her “creation” takes a life of her own.

While I enjoyed the Northanger Abbey review, I loved this adaption of Emma. It was done a little different with it starting off with a breakdown of the characters, a who’s who of everyone.

The book easily captures the attention of the reader as it leans in to the already comedic tones of Emma. The illustrations were also well done, no complaints of the men’s outfits here.

I really enjoyed it, and I think the 7 year old who I purchased it for will love it as well. If you are looking for Jane Austen books for elementary schooled children in your life, then I definitely recommend giving this series a read.

For more Jane Austen Children’s Stories, go to Northanger Abbey

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Jane Austen (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

For more on Emma book adaptations, go to Emma Manga

For more on Emma, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

Pride and Prejudice Audiobook Narrated by Kate Kellgren

I love audiobooks!

I never was really interested in audiobooks until I downloaded overdrive (now MeetLibby) to become better familiar with it, in order to assist library patrons. However, I started listening to them when getting ready in the morning, traveling, cleaning, etc.; and was hooked.

My book club met last month and my pick was Pride and Prejudice. I lent out my copies to the book club members and was going to read off my kindle app, as I always have it with me, but then I spotted this audiobook on MeetLibby and figured why not give it a listen as well? After all:

I really enjoyed this audiobook version as I felt Kate Kellgren did a wonderful job at distinguishing the different voices. As you may recall from earlier reviews, if I don’t like the way the reader/narrator does the voices then I cannot listen to them.

I especially loved Kellgren’s Caroline Bingley voice as she sounded posh, cold, and mean. Exactly how I imagine her to sound when I read the book.

Listening to an audiobook can sometimes bring to light passages you forget about or help see it in a new light. For instance we always laugh about how Elizabeth’s mind changes seeing Pemberley.

But listening to it I was reminded that while she thinks better of Mr. Darcy, she isn’t completely won over until she meets his housekeeper, sees how he honors his father’s wishes and keeps the miniature of Mr. Wickham up (even though he hates him), and how he treats her “Cheapside” relatives with respect. After this she changes from believing she inaccurately judged his character to admiration for the type of person he is.

And of course after he helps her and her family, she fully moves from admiration to love!

If you are looking for a good audiobook to listen to, I highly recommend.

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more audiobooks, go to Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl Audiobook

🚧 Under Construction 🚧

Next month I will be celebrating my 9th blogiversary!

And in these nine years I have come to the realization that not everything I write or post is… well good. Some of what I have posted in the past is poorly written and random.

From Clueless

Some posts were added as filler to help me stay on my scheduled “post days” and some have absolutely nothing to do with Jane Austen or an Austenite topic as at times I struggled with what I wanted my blog to be exactly.

Hmm…?

So I have decided to go through my posts and clean them up. Clear out the ones that were added that are not good and offload any that don’t fit the theme to a different site. I had wanted to get this done by my Blogiversary, but I know that won’t happen, I have nine years worth of posts to go through after all.

So just letting you know if you see this:

It’s because I’m working on trying to make this site better and fit a certain vision. And to let you all know it isn’t a server issue or a problem with WordPress.

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers if Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge

So two years ago in October, my book club and I went to an author Meet & Greet to meet Paula Scott, the author of the California Rising series. There were other authors there, but we spent almost all the time talking to her and picking up the last book of the series, Chasing the Wind, which we were going to read in January 2019.

My friend, and fellow book club member, saw the Praying with Jane booth and pointed it out to me as she knows I love Jane Austen.

I had just seen it on instagram, and put it on my to-read shelf and was very excited about it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy it as I had no extra money, besides buying the Chasing the Wind, as I had a lot of things I had to take care of from my ex-husband.

I was bummed, and just stopped by quickly saying hello to Ms. Dodge, and then taking a bookmark to hold on to. I was planning on buying it after my finances cleared. But…it turned out that I didn’t need to. My friend bought me this book and Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe.  

She knows me very well.

I resolved to read it, February 1st-March 3rd 2019. I started off strong, but fell behind in the middle of it.

I tried a few more times and each time failed:

Uh oh

So in October, I resolved to try in November. This time I would just keep going, even if I failed to read one day-I would just keep moving forward.

I started off badly-beginning on November 3rd-and ended on December 23rd. Yes, as you can see it took me longer to read this.

But it was worth it. This book was fantastic! You can read it anytime, but I found it perfect in the holiday season as it allowed me time to pause, focus on God, and prepare my heart.

So some people are not religious and will not be interested in going through the prayers, but no matter your beliefs, all will appreciate the value and research that Dodge went through in writing this book. Not only did she study Jane Austen’s family, life, and background; but she has read and researched the novels of Jane Austen-highlighting moments from her popular books to the ones that aren’t always mentioned or talked about-Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.

So if you go on my instagram, you can see day by day the parts of each passage that I liked, but on here I am going to mention the ones that really touched me.

Or years.

Day 7

“…Jane had much for which to be thankful. Thus, the last few words of this line reveal an important truth: Discontentment and indifference are two prime enemies of thankfulness. Discontentment is wishing things were different. It’s common when we face trials, compare our lives to the lives of others, or start to think what we have isn’t enough. Indifference is the state of being unmoved by blessings that surround us…Discontentment and indifference are both founded in a lack of thankfulness because when we grumble about out ‘lot’, we’re really grumbling against God.”

“Jane’s prayer reminds us to make thanksgiving an integral part of our prayers lives as a powerful antidote against discontentment and indifference. When you fill your mouth with praise, it has less room for grumbling. Thanking God for what He has done and has promised to do shifts your focus from what you don’t have to what you do.”

I love holidays and celebrating, but when the holiday season comes it can also bring some discontent with bills, holiday celebrations, seeing how others seem happy and together-comparing it to yourself. Reading this in November was perfect as this book helped redirect me from any of those pratfalls and help prepare my heart on thankfulness and being grateful for all I had.

Day 9

“Jane’s prayer reminds us that though we cannot comfort every widow, orphan, and prisoner, we can reach out to one lonely man, woman, or child with the love of Christ. And no matter our age, health, or financial circumstances, we can pray for those in need.”

This chapter was perfect with the holiday season as that is the perfect time to think about others-

And I love how Dodge says that we can help others not just financially-but by spending time with them or praying for them.

Day 13

“Jane’s prayer reminds us to ask God if anything is ‘amiss’ in our lives and priorities. Many of us try to fit God into our lives, instead of making God the centerpiece of our lives. Giving our first fruit to God isn’t just about money; it’s also about our time. One beneficial daily habit is to begin each day with prayer and Bible reading…Ask you seek God first, you will experience steady growth in your relationship with him.”

Ouch, I think we all fall victim to this and Dodge is right. The best way to correct and fix our lives is focus on the one who made us.

Day 14

“Guarding our hearts is essential in the face of temptation. Just as Jane prayed for God’s mercy on ‘Creatures so formed’, we can ask for God’s help in our weak spots.”

This always makes me think of the Johnny Cash song, as we need to keep a close eye on our heart and not allow it to lead is down the wrong path. There is nothing wrong with passion, but unbridled can cause one to make not the best choices, i.e.:

I love Wuthering Heights but let’s be honest-there are no good relationships in there. We have passionate people consumed by passion and not caring who is hurt or damaged.

Day 17

“Yet Fanny Price closely embodies the kind of patience under affliction Jane writes about in her prayer. Despite her troubles, Fanny has an inner strength and fortitude that never lags. Though she is mistreated and suffers in mind, body, and soul at times, she finds solace in her little attic room and in quiet reflection. She doesn’t lash out or become bitter. Even in the face of disappointment and anxiety, she quietly waits and hopes.”

“In this broken world we face illness, danger, grief, but in everything, God is with us.”

So first of all I love that Rachel Dodge discusses every heroine of the Jane Austen novels in this book and that Fanny Dashwood has gotten some love as she deserves it. She may not be as witty as Elizabeth, as self-assured as Emma, or as passionate as Marianne-but would we love Jane Austen’s books if every character was exactly the same? Fanny has a lot of great qualities-patience, kindness, perseverance, courage-I mean she is brave enough to stick to her guns. Fanny has qualities that we should all strive for.

I also loved her part about living in a broken world. Unfortunately bad things will always happen, but at least we have someone we can lean on who understands pain and loss.

Chapter 26

“Mrs. Bennet’s problem is two-fold: She’s dissatisfied with her current situation and worried about her future. She’s done nothing to deserve the life she has, and yet she is unhappy. She lives in a comfortable home, has five daughters, plenty of friends, and dines with ‘four and twenty families,’ but it’s not enough. As long as she thinks she might someday have to live on a small income with five daughters, that none of her five girls will ever marry, and that her husband might die before she does, she’s insufferable.”

“In Jane’s prayer, she prays ‘for a continuance of all these Mercies,’ asking for God’s provision and protection; however, her words also express an underlying sense of contentment. As children of God, we’ve already been ‘blessed far beyond any thing we have deserved.’ Our inheritance, our reward, is kept for us in heaven.”

I liked this chapter as often we get caught up in the worries if the day and future. I know I do.

Chapter 28

“You, too, preach a sermon with your life. What you do with your time, talent, and treasure says a lot about you. The things that make you angry and the things you work the hardest to get reveal what you value most. What values are you preaching to your family, friends, children, and colleagues?”

Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I knew what it was like to be in the “fishbowl”-people watching you and what you do. I thought I would eventually leave that behind, but the truth is people are always watching you. Your friends, relatives, coworkers-all see how you act and react, what you strive for and desire, etc-and what you do and the way you act tells a lot about who you are.

I thought this was an amazing book, and just like Jane Austen’s works you can read it over and over again.

It’s great when you have a writer who loves Jane Austen’s work and really tries to capture it.

“However, her [Jane Austen’s] gift could not, would not be hidden. Her writing outlasts her now by over 200 years, and yet it remains as remarkable today as it was when it was first printed.

We too can live extraordinary lives. Though we may not ever be famous, we all leave behind us a legacy. We will be remembered for who we are more than for what we do. Our friends and family will speak of us based on what they saw of our lives, the way we treated people, and the way we loved.”

If you love Jane Austen, you’ll love this book.

If you want to improve your spiritual life or are looking for a new devotional, you’ll love this book.

Please, oh please!

And if you are a fan of both, you need to check it out.

Its not a want, it’s a need!

For more on Jane Austen, go to Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Holiday Mix Tape

For more Bible Verses, go to Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind