The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair) [Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery #4) by Carrie Bebris

So this is the fourth book in this Jane Austen mystery series. I have an…interesting relationship with this series. You know I love mysteries, so when I first came across this I was so excited! Jane Austen mysteries?!!!!!

Mystery, you say?

So I read the first book Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) and loved it!

It was a fantastic mystery that left you wondering, was something supernatural going on? Or was Caroline Bingley’s new husband gaslighting her?

The next book, however, left me extremely disappointed.

Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) right away told you it was going to be the supernatural taking all the suspense out of it. Also the Dashwood sisters were hardly in the book, which strongly disappointed me.

I then decided to take a break, and went on reading and reviewing other things.

After a break I decided to read the third book North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley) as I plan to review a mystery every month (to stay in theme for the year) and because it has Northanger Abbey in it. It was good, but it really didn’t have as much Northanger Abbey stuff in it as there should have been.

I want MORE Northanger Abbey!

I liked the book, but was disappointed that there was hardly any Mr. Tilney in it and zero Catherine Morland. Extremely disappointing, but the rest of the book was good.

Hmm…

So now on to this one. My excitement for this was also high as I was excited to see Mansfield Park in something as it literally gets no love.

So one thing that happened in this book that is very different from the others is that there is no supernatural elements in it at all. The first book had a woman possibly going crazy/being mind controlled, the second a mirror with the evil spirit of the Dashwood’s great-great grandfather who possesses his great-great-grandson. The third we had the benevolent spirit of Mr. Darcy’s mother aiding Elizabeth through her pregnancy. In this, there is nothing.

So we start the book off with a Elizabeth and Darcy staying with Roger Fitzwilliam, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brother and the earl (you know the one that inherited everything making it impossible to marry someone without money). Lady Catherine is there with Anne as well. So remember in the last book…maybe not…quick review. So Darcy and Elizabeth were in Bath to meet with this super special doctor, who was a total jerk.

This dude, ugh!

There they received a note to visit with Captain Tilney, Mr. Henry Tilney’s older brother to visit and got caught up in a robbery of a dead man. No, it really tuned out that the man they thought was Captain Tilney was actually pretending to b him as the real Captain Tilney died a day earlier. The only one who could help them was Lady Catherine, so she traveled with them to Pemberley leaving Anne in Bath, with her companion.

She’s free!

Back in present time, Elizabeth was feeding her daughter early one morning when she runs into Anne. Elizabeth’s surprised to see her up so early, but Anne tells her she wants time to herself and Elizabeth understands-its hard to go from the freedom of Bath to then be back with your controlling mother, Lady Catherine.

The next day at the ball Elizabeth manages to get Darcy to distract Lady Catherine so that Anne can dance. She dances with her cousin Col. Fitzwiliam, who has always liked her. OMG, what if they were to get together! That would be great! Look at me, matching up people like Emma.

They also meet a Mr. Crawford, one of the people who dances with Anne. We know Mr. Crawford.

Just in case you haven’t read or seen the film, in Mansfield Park Mr. Crawford is an immoral man raised by his uncle. His biggest hobby is to seduce women, he likes them falling in love with him.

He and his sister Mary go to visit their half-sister and intersect with the Bertram family at Mansfield Park. He starts to seduce Maria Bertram who is engaged, with no plan of follow through, but it hooks her. Later he starts to fall for Maria’s cousin Fanny, trying to woo her, but when he returns to London he runs off with her.

He’s a bad boy

Time has passed, so he is free from scandal-Just like the Count in Anna Karenina. It’s really not fair that he didn’t get something worse.

Mr. Crawford asks Anne to dance with him, but she refuses. Elizabeth tries to get her to take him up on his offer but she goes upstairs and to bed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy has found out that Lady Catherine wants to have an engagement between Anne and Lord Sennex’s son, Neville (a horrible man with am extremely awful and abusive temper.)

That night they retire and Elizabeth finds a note from Anne, but decides to wait until morning to read it.

Oh no, that’s important-you should read it now!

The next day Lady Catherine starts an uproar when Anne is found missing. She doesn’t want Lord Sennex to know as she hopes that she can get her in time for Anne to marry his son. They search everywhere for her but cannot find her. Lady Catherine latches onto Anne’s letter to Elizabeth and in there it is revealed that she decided to follow Elizabeth’s advice and run off with Mr. Crawford.

Oops! She misconstrued Elizabeth encouraging her to dance with her encouraging her to run off and elope.

Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy run off to follow them hoping that they can reach them before they are wed at Gretna Greene. Oh, poor Darcy this is the third elopement he has tried to stop. Lady Catherine is furious beyond furious and blames Elizabeth 100%.

The two men follow and Colonel Fitzwilliam seems extra invested? OhMyGOONESS! Maybe he was in love with Anne but never did anything about it because he thought she was going to marry Darcy, and let’s face it Lady Catherin would never pick him even if he is a Fitzwilliam. Thinking back he did seem awfully eager to dance with her?! Hmmm…

Hmm…

They reach Gretna Greene and are too late, Anne is already Mrs. Crawford.

Darcy kind of starts to lecture her but she rips him a new one when she shares how she feels! Her whole life her mother has been telling everyone they would wed and chasing all suitors always and then he up and married some other girl and she is just growing older. Ouch, I feel bad. I had never thought about Anne’s predicament.

Darcy and the Colonel try to warn her that Mr. Crawford could be a gold digger but she tells him she has seen plenty of those and knows Crawford isn’t one. She is extremely upset that she has to marry the cruel Neville Sennex and saw this as the only way out. The men are resigned and start to take her home, but unfortunately the wheel of the carriage breaks Anne injures her leg, and their are stuck by Mansfield Park.

So will we see Fanny and Edmund and the whole gang?

No.

A few Mansfield Park characters have brief moments but they aren’t really even in the story. This was the problem I had with the other books. Why bother to bring in the other titles and stories if you aren’t going to use them?

I mean, you could set this anywhere else and just add new characters, like the Sennexs. But instead Bbris gets my hopes up making it sound like we will see all the gang and we don’t, and that really upsets me. Why do this? Just to get my hopes up?

So Lady Catherine is angry and wants to make sure that Anne’s inheritance will stay controlled by her and she sends for her lawyer and he, Lady Catherine, and Elizabeth all travel to Mansfield Park.

When all arrive they discover that Henry Crawford has a very bad reputation. They hear the whole story of how he ran off with Maria Bertram Rushworth and how he had proposed to Fanny Price Bertram.

Anne starts to regret her decision, especially after his other wife comes to town.

It turns out years ago he pretended he was just a sailor and got involved with this girl Meg and then left. He sent her money, but after a fire burned the farm and the death of her only family member she goes to find her husband, the only clue being a jewelry box that leads her right to Mansfield Park.

So now who is really married to Mr. Crawford? They call the magistrate who is of course Edmund Bertram speaking on behalf of his father and it is a real sticky wicket. Mr. Crawford married Meg first, but under a false name, but one he was well known so a good lawyer could say that it was legal. And then there is Anne who married him under his legal name. This sound like a Poldark or Mary Balogh novel.

To make things even worse Mr. Rushworth and his mother, along with Maria Bertram Rushworth and her Aunt Norris, all converge on Mansfield Park to speak to Henry and give him a piece of their minds-ALONG with Lord and Neville Sennex (who happens to be friends with Tom Bertram and stays over at Mansfield Park).

Elizabeth and Darcy remark that things would be a lot easier if he was dead…

So I’m sure you all saw what was coming next. He escaped on his horse and there is a search party out for him. They finally discover his dead body.

At first the Bertrams want to declare it a suicide but after Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam look it over they discover he was murdered.

So who did it? Was Anne angry that she may not be legally wed, but also that she has lost all standing in society? Was it Lady Catherine upset that first this man upset her plans and then that he embarrassed the de Bourg line? Could it be Mr. Bertram, Tom, or Edmund…wait not Edmund as he is a minister, Sir Bertram or Tom avenging the humiliation of their sister? Mr. Rushworth out to get revenge for Mr. Crawford sleeping with his wife!? His mother for embarrassing the Rushworths? Maria, angry that he remarried and is in society while she is doomed to be an outcast forever? Aunt Norris, furious that someone hurt her favorite girl? Meg, the first Crawford wife, furious that he lied and abandoned her? Colonel Fitzwilliam maybe trying to get rid of the competition? Lord Sennex or Neville for the embarrassment? Mr. Darcy…haha yeah right it isn’t him or Elizabeth.

We’ll never know.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are on the case to figure out who and why and get themselves and their family out of this entanglement in order to return home.

But then it is discovered that Henry Crawford isn’t really dead. Well then, who was murdered? And if Mr. Crawford didn’t die was he the intended victim or the murderer?

Hmm…

To further complicate things it turns out that Mr. Crawford has some sort of amnesia and thinks he is a sailer named John married to Meg (the first wife and first wife connection).

It turns out that the person is after Henry Crawford as he is murdered, then Neville is killed, and Colonel Fitzwilliam declare his love for Anne- the Darcys need to find the truth before whoever it is is planning on striking again.

So the mystery was really good, and the double identity and then Crawford turning out not to be dead really threw me for a loop. I had to read to the end.

Tell ME!!!!!

The mystery and the characters were really enjoyable, my only compliant was that I wish it involved more of the Mansfield Park characters. I want to see Fanny, Tom, and William Price.

From Mansfield Park Opera

For more by Carrie Bebris, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

For more on Mansfield Park, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

For more Mansfield Park variations, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part III

 

So as you can see in the title, I didn’t get to finish this chapter. This has been an expensive chapter.

Creators of Choices

It has been two months, so quick recap.

From the beginning.

First of all, this chapter starts off with a warning:

This chapter contains scenes of implied sexual violence that may be upsetting to some players. Discretion is advised.

What does that mean? This sounds bad…

Hmmm…

In the last part, I found out that my father is dying, and instead of keeping it from my arch-enemy, my stepbrother Mr. Marcastle, I told him. He has been trying to destroy me, but it is his father too. Family, right?

While I am commiserating, my maid Briar gives me a stack of love letters. Of course I want to read them-maybe something sweet about my parents or even useful information that can help me is in them?

I discovered that my grandfather is the one that tore my parents apart. Shortly after my stepbrother’s fiance warns me that I need to hurry home as my stepbrother and stepmother are plotting against me. As I was about to leave, I ran into the Duke Richards who is not interested in me saying no to him, he threatens me and now I have the option to strike back. You know what I am going to do.

I verbally filet him and make it clear-I’m not interested in him at all!

Unfortunately, being told no, just set the Duke “afire”. He then tries to attack me, but I evade him and kick him in the balls.

ninjaAustenlandfightkickpunch

As he writhes in pain he continues to insult me, and laughs at my interest in Mr. Sinclaire and calling him a gentleman. For those of you who may have forgotten, Mr. Sinclaire is a gentleman who was very good friends with my father, gives off the Mr. Darcy vibes, and one of your possible love interests (the one I’m leaning toward). I mean how can I not-he’s so Mr. Darcy.

That was defintely worth the diamonds I spent.

But its not over, unfortunately-the Duke gets up and grabs me, he’s not letting me go easily. In fact, I’m sure he has very unsavory plans for me. I’m surprised though, I know I’m lower than him, but I am an Earl’s daughter, not just a maid or serving girl. I mean, there would be repercussions. But before anything could happen who should come marching in?

Yay! Aw yeah, Mr. Sinclaire, and with a sword!

The Duke tries to shrug off Mr. Sinclaire but Mr. Sinclaire knows him too well and takes a firm stand, edging his sword closer to the Duke. Yeah, show him!

Th Duke gets scared off…for now. But we will worry about him later, I have a dying dad and a handsome hero. I was sure relived when he came and he admits he was too, and that he has feelings for me.

But why is he here? Mr. Sinclaire saw the Duke coming over and found that his feet were bringing him my way. Aw! He wanted to make sure I was safe as he knows something about the Duke and doesn’t trust him. But what is the secret?!

Tell ME!!!!!

He admits he can’t stop thinking of me and that he doesn’t know what he would do without me. I know I should be worried that my father is dying, but I can’t help feeling a bit mission accomplished. I mean this is the guy I want and I need to get engaged to ensure I inherit everything, right? Wait-I shouldn’t be like Marianne Dashwood, I need to be like Elinor and temper myself. He may not propose and my grandma still wants me to get with the Duke.

It turns out that Mr. Sinclaire has decided that it is time he stops keeping things hidden. Ohhh! Story time! So who do you think he will be more like? Mr. Darcy?

Colonel Brandon?

Maxim de Winter from Rebecca?

It turns out that Mr. Sinclaire’s wife betrayed him with the Duke and they were lovers!

Mr. Sinclaire offers to share his story and I’m like yes please! I want to get to know Mr. Sinclaire more and get the dirt on the Duke, I might need it to make sure my grandma doesn’t set me up with him.

I didn’t have enough diamonds so I said forget it and ended up buying some as I just had to know!

Tell ME!!!!!

So Mr. Sinclaire was married before and his wife passed away five years ago. They used to be very close to Duke Richards, Mr. Sinclaire would even invite him over for an annual London dinner and other events.

Six years ago they were having a dinner party-the Duke was there as always, and Mr. Sinclaire’s wife Roselyn (which you will recognize from the book Bloodbound) everything seemed well and normal BUT, that night Mrs. Sinclaire disappeared from her hostess duties, and Mr. Sinclair went looking for her and found her and the Duke together.

The Duke didn’t even care that he was caught! What a jerk!! He reminds of that jerk in Poldark, Monk Adderley-thank goodness Ross killed him (in a duel).

Poor Mr. Sinclaire-he describes it as a dagger in his heart. Ohh-such a romantic hero! I LOVE it. Pixelberry can write some characters so well.

Mr. Sinclaire found out that not only was Roslyn cheating on him, but she never loved him-she just married him for his money.

And that’s not all…

Mr. Sinclaire turned her out, but she became pregnant with the Duke’s child and he ended up taking her in after the Duke refuse to help her. Both she and the child died in childbirth. Ouch, that was really sad-like more than I was expecting.

I wonder of he still loved her, but when I ask-he says he no longer does as someone else has made his heart open again…

No winder Sinclaire hates the Duke. I thoroughly hate him too.

But aw, Mr. Sinclaire admitted he loves me. I should be happy, but playing these books have led me to see that something bad is going to happen.

This tender moment has been sweet, but my father is ill and I need to get back to see him before he passes on. Mr. Sinclaire escorts me to the stables and offers to come with me but I turn him down. Why? I don’t know as most women would not travel alone. What if I was taken upon by gypsies? Thieves? Murderers? Rapists? The Duke?

Such a man!

Mr. Marcastle took the carriage but I might be able to beat him on horseback-good thing I bought my own horse back in Chapter 5.

Luke Harper is coming with me, okay good that makes sense. The two of start off for my father when the chapter ends.  Will we make it on time?

So that chapter is finally finished, man I couldn’t believe it took so long. It was an expensive chapter, but for once I feel like it was worth every diamond. Until the next chapter…

For more Desire and Decorum, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part II

For more on Choices, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part I

Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

Have you ever seen Hart of Dixie? I started watching it a few years ago on Netflix after a friend recommended it. It’s funny but ever since I read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, I can’t get it out of my head that Hart of Dixie has a similar vein of that book in it. In fact it has made me want to rewatch the TV Show, so I did.

In Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors Trisha Raje (Mr. Darcy) is a doctor and has a horrible bedside manner. She cares, but is too clipped in speech and the way she treats people-not good.

She meets D.J. a caterer, and treats him horribly-calls him the help, even when she proposes that they start dating she insults him multiple times.

D.J. (Elizabeth) has had a hard life and is tired of snobs and let’s her have it. But both grow from this and you’ll have to read the book or my review to get the whole scoop!

In Hart of Dixie, Dr. Zoe Hart is a similar character to Trisha. She wants to be a cardiovascular surgeon, but isn’t granted the fellowship she wants because she has a horrible bedside manner. She gets told to take a year off and be a GP and then come back after she’s practiced more than just doctoring. She is lost at what to do, but at her graduation she had been approached by a Harvey Wilkes in Bluebell Alabama to come work in his practice and she decides to take him up on his offer.

When Zoe reaches Alabama she is a regular fish out of water and to add to that it turns out that Harvey is not only dead, but he was not a random doctor-but her father.

Zoe decides to stay in town for the year and falls for engaged lawyer, George Tucker, while country boy Wade Kinsella makes a play for her. The way Zoe treats Wade is a lot like how Trisha treated DJ, but much worse. She sees Wade as lower than her, uneducated, a real country bumpkin as she is from New York City and he’s from a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. (Not completely unlike some of the interactions of the Bingley party from London reacts to being on Hertfordshire.)

The show has a whole range of crazy and kooky characters. All are so adorable and it is a great load of fun. Eventually Zoe learns to care and relax her demeanor (like Mr. Darcy) and Wade grows up and learns better how to relate and discuss how he feels.

How sweet!

So the show isn’t enough similar (like Gossip Girl), so this won’t be a comparison review. Instead I want to talk about the Jane Austen scene in season 4 episode 4 “The Very Good Bagel”.

So as the scene I want to talk about comes in season four, I’ll do a quick recap for any who haven’t watched this. The first season is a lot of will-they, won’t they (Zoe and George & Zoe and Wade)? And then Wade and Zoe do get together in the second season, but unlike Trisha Zoe treats Wade like crap. Re-watching it, she actually is one hundred percent is horrible to him until the last season (and even in there). Wade ends up cheating on her as he gets insecure how the bar-tending child of town drunk Crazy Earl can keep such a prize when everyone in town wants her to get with George Tucker. I’m not excusing cheating-but you can’t help but feel a little for him. After they break up Zoe leaves for New York City, but then returns with a new boyfriend-even though Wade apologized and told her he would wait for her.

They end up breaking up when Joel heads to Hollywood and after all the time Wade spent dating Zoe’s cousin she realizes she has feelings for him. She tries to win him back but he is not ready to get his heartbroken again, so Zoe seduces him and gets pregnant. Fast forward eight weeks and Zoe realizes she is pregnant [the actress was in real life] (not telling Wade) and Wade decides he is happy to risk it all and to show Zoe he is serious he came up with a plan, they would take things slow.

Meanwhile, George Tucker and Mayor Lavon Hayes are both in love with Lemon Breeland. When she returned from her singles’ cruise with a handsome, connected, and perfect doctor-they were crushed and angry. They started researching the guy and discovered he has another girlfriend, them leaking it to the local paper/blog The Blawker, so she would find out and dump him. It turns out Lemon knew about it and the two have been pretending to be together so each could inherit their grandmother’s money. Now Lemon is on the warpath to discover who leaked her secret and the guys will do anything to have her not find out the truth.

Including being in the local bed and bath’s owner Dash DeWitt’s special Pride and Prejudice weekend. Lavon Hayes is Mr. Darcy and George is to be Mr. Bingley, and they are to be the weekend escorts for the tourists, all senior citizens.

The guys are not into it at all, which is weird as I’ve seen them dress up lots of times as pirates, Renaissance Knights, Civil War reenactors, etc.

I mean for real!

I think Lavon can pull of the Mr. Darcy look, he just needs less modern hair.

George doesn’t pull the Regency clothes off as well-but it might be the outfit and his hair as well. Not everyone can look good in Regency clothes.

It is pretty funny how awful they are at this. It appears they know zero about Jane Austen or the Regency Era as they try to make conversation while dancing.

“Jane Austen Enthusiast: And, Mr. Darcy, how do you like Lady Elizabeth’s fine eyes?

Lavon Hayes: [As Mr. Darcy] Oh, uh, they-they are fine. They, uh…they shine like dimes. Or whatever change they have in England.”

“Jane Austen Enthisiast: The country is vast more pleasant than the city, is it not Mr. Bingley?

George Tucker: [As Mr. Bingley] Why, yes, it is lovely here in the…in the country.”

It is a short scene as they guys leave because Lemon is in trouble and they won’t let one go without the other. But if you like Jane Austen-it is cute and a silly scene. I really wish it was longer.

Oh, well.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

For more Jane Austen film adaptions, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

So at the library we added this book in June of last year, but as “new books” only have a 14 day checkout limit, I decided to wait. The reading isn’t the hard part as I can read fast, but I sometimes have trouble with the review part-you know life happens.

My life motto right there…

So I ended up checked the book out in October. But then I didn’t get around to reading it until April 2020 (returning and checking it out again) as life (and other books) got in the way.

This book takes place in 2000-2001 Pakistan and starts off with the Binat family. Bark Binat (Mr. Bennet) used to be a wealthy man from a wealthy family, but when his father became ill he relied heaily on Binat’s brother Goga and wife Tinkle. Goga was more traditional, while Bark loved American culture. Bark also fell hard for Khushboo “Pinkie” Gardenaar. Tinkle hated the beautiful girl instantly, and that she would forevermore be compared to her sister-in-law (who is far prettier than her.) She continued to spread slander about her and them, even more after Pinkie gave birth to two gorgeous girls, Jena (Jane) and Alys (Elizabeth). The family was later completed with Lady (Lydia), Qitty (Kitty), and Mari (Mary).

Goga decided to diversify the accounts and start some shops up in Saudi Arabia. Bark didn’t really like it, but as a dutiful brother he wet out there. Life was good but dangerous at times. If anything were to happen, they would always side with Saudis, even if they were in the wrong. After being rear-ended by a Saudi Prince and managing to just get a fine and broken arm he returned to Lahore, Pakistan but discovered his father dead, that his brother stole all the money, and lies and rumors abounding that Bark lost it all in bad investments.

Alys encouraged him to get a lawyer, but he said nothing could be done (having been bribed by Goga)-so the once mighty Binat family has fallen, is continuously gossiped about, and having to figure out what to do next.

The two eldest girls-Jena and Ayls started working at the British School of Dilipabad. It has been 10 years since their return and fall from grace.

Ayls is seen as a rebel to the other girls, teachers, and friends. She constantly encourages her students and sisters to go against the status quo of tradition and be who they want to be. Jena is more traditional, Mary is extremely religious, Lady wants to be famous and rich-and Qitty is still trying to find her place often fighting with Lady.

Life probably would have stayed the same except they received an invitation that changes everything-yes the Binats have been cordially invited to the NadirFiede wedding and Pinkie was pleased as punch that her girls would have an opportunity to trap a husband.

With them attending the mehndi, nikah, and walima ceremonies (two in Dilipad and one in Lahore) they should have ample time to hook a man.

My girls better be the hunters.

At the wedding the family has fun, some people-Lady-having more than others and meet the Binglia clan (Bingley)-“Hammy” Binglia (Caroline), Sumeria “Sammy” Binglia Riyasat (Mrs. Hurst), Sultan “Jaans” Riyaset (Mr. Hurst), and Fahad “Bungles” Binglia (Mr. Bingley). The women hate being in D-Pad, their name for Dilliapad, but Bungles enjoys especially after he meets Jena, only having eyes for her.

They also meet Valntine Darsee (Mr. Darcy)-the guy who happens to own the school that Alyss and Jena work at. He cold, standoffish, grumpy, and jetlagged.

Things get worse as they all sit to eat and Pinkie, Lady Qitty, Mari make fools of themselves and the Binat family. Hammie, Sammie, and Darsee are not pleased. Later that evening Ayls hears Bungles and Darsee talking about Jena. Bungles is crazy about her, and mentions Ayls but Darsee thinks she is just a country bumpkin.

However, the next day/event he hears her talking to a former student about her thesis and starts to view her in a new light.

Bungles invites Jena to a polo match and they all go to Lahore. The driver drops Jena at the match, while Ayls takes a walk in the park, getting sweaty. She goes to the car to return home but it is missing-and it is 2000 so no cellphone! She returns to the polo clubhouse to use a phone and discovers that Jena hurt her ankle when stomping the divots.

They take Jena to the doctors but Hammy and Sammy talk bad about her saying she is faking it to trick Bungles.

Jena is injured by a slight sprain. And Bungles pays for the whole thing, even an overnight stay. He wants to remain there but Ayls kicks him out as they need to protect Jena’s reputation. The rest of the Binat family drop by and thoroughly embarrasses Jena and Ayls. Just…OUCH!

Later as they are waiting for the final party, Ayls goes to the lawyers regarding a land dispute. It is over ten years that it has been going on, and as her father doesn’t trust any lawyers after what happened with Goga-Ayls takes care of all the money matters for him. At the lawyers’ Ayls meets Jeorgeullah Wickaam.

Ayls is charmed by him, although I don’t know why. He is flib and has nothing in common with her. I mean he hates reading-and she loves books.

Guys who don’t are not.

Wickham takes her to see the land in dispute and then out to see the changing of the guard at Wagah-Attari. There they run into Darsee and Wickaam reveals he and Darsee are cousins but don’t get along.

Wickaam shares that his parents died when he was young, alongside Darcy’s father. He moved in with him and his aunt and it was good except that Darsee was a jerk to him and Darsee’s little sister. After Darsee’s mother remarried they moved to Thailand and Wickaam went to stay with other relatives. After Darsee’s mother died, Wickaam was written out of the will by Darsee and lost everything. Of course with her past-something Wickaam knows ALL ABOUT being their lawyer after all-Ayls believes him and hates Darsee.

Alys hates Darsee

Alys of course shares with Jena, but Jena is very against it. Because of their past she knows that relatives can say whatever they want, but it isn’t necessarily the truth. Plus Jena doesn’t think Darsee is that type of person or that Bungles wouldn’t be friends with him.

Hmmm…

Christmas comes and the Binat family visit Nasir and Nona Gardenaar. At the party their cousin, Farhet Kaleen, comes visiting, a physiatrist-a healer of the pain management. He moved to Pakistan as his wife died and he is looking for a replacement.

Kaleen wants Jena, but Pinkie insists she will be engaged soon and instead directs him toward Ayls.

Pinkie claims Alys is traditional, meek, religious, etc-even though like what was she thinking. Why didn’t she try to get him with Mari?

They go to the final wedding party and run into Darsee who gives Ayls the book they talked about when Jena was in the hospital.

He’s so romantic!

After the wedding  no proposal comes for Jena, Kaleen proposes to Ayls who rejects him and ends up marrying Ayls’ best friend Sherry Looclus (Charlotte Lucas). Jena gets depressed and goes to stay with their family in Lahore. Wickaam hitches his rising star to another lady, with a larger bank account. Will the Binat fortune ever chage? It looks like things will stay the same-but will a visit to Sherry present Ayls with an opportunity to see Darsee in another way?

I actually read this book back in April but had a hard time writing this review. Everyone I follow on instagram, facebook, twitter, etc-loves this book. However, reading it right after Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, I didn’t have such a strong love for it. I didn’t hate it, I really enjoyed it except for one thing-one crucial thing.

Hmmm…

So I’ll start with what I didn’t like and then end with everything I did like. I just couldn’t stand the character of Alys.

I know, she is supposed to be Elizabeth, but I just found her to be annoying at times. I felt she was just constantly insisting that her way is the only right way. I like that she encourages people, espechially her students, but what I didn’t like was when she encourages those that she knows she shouldn’t. Her little sister, Lady (Lydia) wants to be a model and her father says no and even though  Alys knows that it is a bad idea, she even says it later in the book, she argues for her sister pursuing her dream because “all women have a right to be whatever they want to be”. The sentiment and Alys’ heart is in the right place but Alys knows (better than her father) that her sister lacks the maturity and guidance to navigate the modeling world. Lady’s lack of temperance, youth, inexperience, and “do whatever is fun” mentality would get her in a lot of trouble. Proof of that is shown when they go to the fashion party and she’s there for only a few seconds before everything goes downhill.

Alys also spent a majority of the book against marriage, to which everyone is allowed to their own opinion, I see nothing wrong with that. But for someone who constantly shares and encourages women to be whatever they want to be and accomplish their dreams, but then is very unaccepting of the dream of being a housewife and mother-that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I mean for some people that’s all they really want to be and there is nothing wrong with them choosing that.

The other thing that I didn’t care for was that Ayls throughout the book constantly states everything women can do and achieve without getting married and without a man-but then Alyss and Jena do none of those things until they are married (let alone married to wealthy men). It felt like mixed messages to me.

I liked all the other characters in the book, along with really enojying the storyline. I think this and Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors really show how universal the themes of Jane Austen are. And how a lot of Regency standards continue to plague some cultures. I mean as a Latina woman I felt “the ‘need’ to be married” and on my Italian side saw how unmarried, childless women were viewed. I have friends of Indian and Japanese descent and they have shared they feel the same.

I think Kamal also made it clear the class systems in Pride and Prejudice better than a lot of people do. I mean living in 21st century USA (me) you don’t quite understand how unusual it was that someone from an old established family, Mr. Darcy, would be best friends with Charles Bingleys (new money).  And reading this book, it really brings the understanding why Caroline was trying so so hard to harpoon Mr. Darcy. Handsome, rich, and the social class they need? He would be a major coup. It also makes it clear why she and her sister were so anti-Jane Bennet and wanted Mr. Bingley with Georgiana. After all the work they have done in social climbing, they didn’t want the Bennet family messing up their plans.

My favorite though had to be Sherry Looclus (Charlotte Lucas,). I thought she was extremely well done. I think Kamal not only understood the character of Charlotte perfectly but understand how to present her in modern culture for readers to really understand her plight. I also thought it was fascinating all she goes through to get married, all the little ceremonies she has to conduct to “interview” as a potential new member of their family.

Please pick me.

I always felt for Charlotte, but never really focused on her as the other characters kind of overshadowed her. In this I was rooting for Charlotte/Sherry and I wanted her to have joy and happiness, in any way possible. The first guy she is engaged to goes to Germany and marries a German woman, the next one dies (he had a liver condition he didn’t disclose), she’s infertile, and now any guy her parents pick she has to go through a series of steps to try and have someone deem her worthy. And she still continues on, poor Sherry.

After she married, I turned the pages and read quickly to see if things went well as I just felt for Sherry and I wanted her to happy.

Tell ME!!!!!

I also love how the principal who has treated Sherry like dirt this whole time, totally changes her tune when she finds out that she is engaged to Kaleen, the school’s owner being his benefactor (Begum Beena da Bagh). Now the principal has to treat Sherry like a princess.

In fact Sherry was the crown jewel in this book. I loved her character!

The Bingleys/Binglas were perfection. I love how Kamal created them. Humeria “Hammy” Binglia (Caroline) and Sumeria “Sammy” Binglia Riyasat (Mrs. Hurst) were just perfect as women of new money trying to raise themselves in society and not always doing the right social cues. They want to speak to people of worth and confuse Sherry Looclus with Sherry Pupels, the politicians wife. Oops!

That’s embarressing.

And Sultan “Jaans” Riyaset (Mr. Hurst) was just perfectly awful. He is fleshed out more here than the just the food-loving man in P&P, and it really showcases how the Bingleys/Binglas are on the search for titles, old classy names, etc-not personality.

Ugh, this guy.

I also liked the depiction of Anne. If I was going to rewrite it, I personally like the version of Anne pretending to be sick so she doesn’t have to be this perfect woman her mother is always bragging about. But in this she was a famous model who fell to a mysterious illness and even though that stopped some of her plans and ambitions she was going to persevere and not be silenced. I really liked that and thought it was a great addition.

You can also clearly see that Soniah Kamal loves literature and I really enjoyed the scenes when Ayls and Darsee discuss the different books they love.

So I didn’t hate the book, in fact this is the best depiction of Charlotte Lucas I have ever seen-but as Ayls wasn’t my favorite depiction of Elizabeth I didn’t absolutely love it. I definitely think Austen fans should check it out-I’m not kidding when I think this is a fantastic depiction of Charlotte Lucas.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to At Legend’s End

For more depictions of Charlotte Lucas, go to The Colonel

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

For more Jane Austen book adaptions, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

At Legend’s End

At Legend’s End (The Teacup Novellas #4) by Diane Moody

So what is the difference between a book based on Jane Austen and a Non-Austen Austen Read for Austen Readers.

Hmmm…

I puzzled over the very same thing reading this book. Where do you draw the line?

Hmm…

For most people it probably doesn’t matter, but for me I have two distinct listings and I’m trying to decide where to place this book.

Hmm…

After a long deliberation, I finally decided that a book goes on the Jane Austen list if they copy parts of the book or try to make it like an Austen novel, while a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers is not based on the book or copies it, but reminds you of Jane Austen-in themes, certain moments, etc. Typically Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers are books that I enjoy and recommend, while based on Jane Austen books get a harsher critique.

Olivia Thomas is nearing middle age, has been working at bank for most of her life, and feels very stuck. Her best friend is married with children, she has no family, no boyfriend, and she just feels blah.

But one day that all changes with a note from a lawyer. It turned out years ago she helped a man’s loan go through when the business didn’t look as if it would be a sound investment but it did become one, it became extremely profitable and he sold his business, making billions and deciding to give her five million dollars!!!

What?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Olivia is unsure what to do next? She has money, the opportunity to go anywhere, to do anything, etc. The only problem is, what does she want?

Hmm…

She decides to leave and think about her future, staying at the Captain Jonathan MacVicar Inn in Maine. When she arrives, everyone makes a big deal about it as it is a leap year and the Inn has a legend that ever since MacVicar’s fiancé Catherine lost her love on the 29th of February, every 29th of February someone else will.

She ignores it and goes on with her plans. She loves the town and the people in it, endearing herself to many people-so much that she joins the local book club.

One of the townspeople she meets is Trevor Bass, bookstore owner:

“…one of those guys who likes what he likes, disdains what he doesn’t, and isn’t hesitant to speak his mind.”

Yes Olivia is supposed to be Elizabeth and Trevor her Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (1940)

Trevor is described as arrogant, stuffy (monogramed handkerchiefs), and stubborn.

Olivia is outspoken, speaks her mind, headstrong, and obstinate.

And while Olivia at first thinks of Trevor being cold and distant, she discovers she was wrong, as he is kind hearted and the two fall in love. However, a bad fight and a curse is working against them. Will they beat it or will one of them fall victim to the “MacVicar Curse”?

This story was not that good at all. They tried to copy elements of Pride and Prejudice but it is nowhere as good. The two quickly fall in love (like one week), fight (the fight they have is pretty dumb), and then *spoiler alert* they get back together. There is no character development and it just is a blah story.

Moody also tries to dot it with phrases from Pride and Prejudice and it is not enough.

And like almost every female character has a “M” sounding name making it hard to keep straight who is who.

Huhhhhhhh

I would skip it.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

For more retellings, go to Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken

For more Jane Austen, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?