Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

So this is something I started a while back. We all love Jane Austen and it is such a bummer that there isn’t more of her works to read.

Variations are a ton of fun, and there are great ones out there (recently I read and loved Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl) but sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read?

That’s why I started this series. I will review books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but is something fresher than a retelling.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

So I read this book and knew it would be perfect to add to this blog.

The story starts off with Sita Kaur Shergill, widowed mother to three daughters, ill. She knows her time is limited and decides before her time is up to write a letter to her three girls to take a trip to India after she passes. She always wanted to go on a pilgrimage with her daughters from their home in England to India, and now her last wish is for them to go.

It sounds like a simple request, but it is anything but as these three sisters are not close and all kick up a bit about going.

Rajini is the eldest sister who when she was young rebelled, but after a trip to India became sensible, reliable, and has done everything right. She went to university, became a principal, got married, and had a boy.

But not all is right in Rajini’s world. Her just graduated from high school son not only wants to forgo college, but he also is dating a 36 year old woman, and…the couple is pregnant. Basically this is Rajini:

Raijini tries to do all she can, but her son won’t listen to her. And now she has to go on this pilgrimage, and leave her husband to try to sway her son.

Ugh!

Raijini doesn’t want to go to India at all, because of what happened last time, but will do it to honor her mother.

Jezmeen is the middle daughter, and she and her mother had a contentious relationship. Jezmeen was always passionate, doing her own thing, reacting, rebelling, etc. She wanted to be an actress, something her mother didn’t approve of. And her mother would constantly ask her why she didn’t have her “big” break yet, something that really grated on Jezmeen’s nerves.

Ugh, not again…

Unlike her sisters, Jezmeen is ready to go to India as she wants to get as far away as possible as she is currently a social media disaster and is hoping that everything will die down if she leaves the country.

But just because Jezmeen wants to go to India, she doesn’t want to do the pilgrimage as she doesn’t get why it is such a big deal, but her big sister is going to make them stick o the schedule.

Youngest sister Shirina excelled at college and her job, but she always felt she was missing something…a real family. Growing up not remembering her father, her mother busy working, and the sisters not getting along more than they do-she wanted a traditional family and signed up on the message boards for an arranged marriage, meeting the wealthy Sehaj and moving to Australia.

She then slowly left her friends, job, and social media. Her sisters have hardly seen or heard from her and she has become a silent figure in her home. She decides to go to India, not for her mother but because her mother-in-law has set her upon a secret task, one she must complete or else she can never return home.

Hmmm…

The three sisters are in for a trip of their lifetime as they learn a lot about their mother, each other, one sister gets involved with private detectives, one gets arrested for protesting, and one almost makes the worst decision of her life.

So we have three sisters…what Jane Austen book do you think I’m thinking of?

A widowed mother with three daughters?

The mother in the The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, Sita, isn’t in the story a whole lot, but her presence is felt throughout the book as we get memories from each of the daughters. After her husband died, the financial security went away and at times Sita found herself unable to do anything from her distress, stress, and depression. The girls had to be taken care of by a neighbor or by their older sister Raijini. This reminded me a lot of Mrs. Dashwood as after her husband dies, she goes through a similar grief and the responsibilities and it be taken over by others.

Of course Raijini being the sensible older sister makes me think of Elinor. Taking charge, leading her sisters, picking up the void of the missing parent-Raijini is just like Elinor. But even though you think you know everything about Raijini she has a hidden secret-just like Elinor.

“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering. For weeks, Marianne, I’ve had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.”

Jezmeen is passionate, plunges into things headfirst, and doesn’t always think things through. This of course makes me think of Marianne who lets her passion lead her.

She is upset with her sisters and this trip, gets up late, goes along with a protest because they think she is someone else, gets thrown into jail-and that is just a taste of what she does. However, as the book progresses she, like Marianne, learns to not let her passion go, but to temper it from time to rime and take moments to think before acting or reacting.

Shirina made me think a lot about Margaret as she isn’t as present in the book-not that Shirina is underdeveloped, far from that. Shirina isn’t present as she is folding in herself due to her family drama-her mother-in-law emotionally abusing her.

The other thing that really made me think of Sense and Sensibility is the way the sisters each have these ideas about each other-only to discover that there is than they thought, and how they all grow and bond together.

I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: And Only to Deceive

For more on sisters, go to I Won the Two Sisters Tea Giveaway

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

The Austen Series: Reason and Romance

Reason and  Romance (The Austen Series #2) by Debra White Smith

So I have started reading this series out of order.

But it doesn’t really matter as they don’t have to be read in a the order they were published. The books are modern day versions of Jane Austen. I started with Amanda (The Austen Series #5), which set Emma in Australia and:

To read the whole review, follow this link.

So after that I wasn’t too jazzed to read this book, a modern day version of Sense and Sensibility.

But I decided to keep an open mind and hope for the best:

Well let’s find out, shall we?

So the story takes place in Ohio, as Elaina (Elinor) and Anna (Marianne) Woods (Dashwood) have just lost their father; the family business; and due to a prenuptial agreement, their home.

Elaina, the reasonable sister, has just received her Phd and will begin teaching literature at the university the next town over.

Anna, the romantic, has not gone to college and doesn’t have a job. She lives at home with their mother, dreaming of the perfect guy to come along and sweep her off her feet.

One of the students, Ted Ferrars (Edward) in Elaina’s class, causes the always reasonable Wood to become a romantic as she finds herself captivated by his personality and character.

Swoon!

He turns out to be the brother of her sister-in-law, and the complete opposite with his kind and caring nature. He is a superb pianist and dreams of leading a music ministry at a church, while his family has dreams of him becoming a superstar.

While that relationship develops, Anna also finds herself with not one, but two potential love interests. When she relocates with her mother to the home they are renting from, their cousins, she is first pursued by the older, broody, Dr. Brandon (Colonel Brandon). She isn’t too interested in him as he isn’t “a romantic hero”.

Everything changes when she heads off to her new job only to have an accident and be saved by the handsome model, Will Kenney (Mr. Willoughby).

That’s what I want

Elaina sister tries to caution her to slow down, but Anna is caught up in her emotions and will not listen to any advice, only intent on doing what her heart leads her to.

Will both girls be able to allow a little reason and romance in their lives? Or will Eliana cool reason and Anna’s hot romance keep them from forming real relationships?

So what did I think?

I thought it was horrible. A lot of things just did not work or make any sense why the author went in that direction.

So let’s count them off:

A) The Story Doesn’t Work Not Having Elaina Living at Home

So in Sense and Sensibility, Elinor lives at home in the cottage, runs the household, and is able to witness Marianne’s reactions with Willoughby and advise her. In this Elaina has her own apartment in another city and it just weakens the relationship with her sister and family. All information has to be relayed by her mother instead of Elaina being able to witness what she is speaking out against and has no real clue what is going on. It also weakens the character of Elaina/Elinor as she loses her role of caregiver, which is partially why people feel secure in sharing with her their secrets. The author should have had her stay living at home, I mean it would have been easy to explain that she was worried about her grieving mother.

B) She Makes the Mom a Pushover

In the original story of Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Dashwood was in the throes of grief. She had lost her husband, income, home, most of her belongings, life, etc: all at the same time. When Fanny came along and started insisting this and that, she went along as she was sad, depressed, confused, numb, etc. In this she just gives in to everything because she “doesn’t like conflict”, which was not how it was in the book!!!

C) Hot for Teacher/Hot for Student

I don’t care how old they are I hate the teacher-student relationship. First of all it is against University policies as it could cause bias and because you are taking advantage of a relationship and power you have over the other. I don’t care that they “don’t really date”, as Elaine is intent on trying to form a relationship, something she should not have done or waited until he was no longer in her class.

 

D) Whatever Happened to Baby Margaret Dashwood?

So in the original novel there are three sisters, the youngest being Margaret.  Why do modern adaptations always get rid of siblings and make people only children or mess up their birth place? I mean there are whole psychologies that discuss how your place in the line of family helps form your character and personality, and I think a lot of modern adaptations mess this up when they cut out the siblings.

E) Ted Cheats on His Fiancé

So in Regency time: flirting, courting, etc. was much different. In the original novel, Edward starts to fall for Elinor, and she him, and his attention causes her to think and hope he is interested. However, he never actually does anything about his feelings or makes any overtures as he is secretly engaged. In fact, most of the being lead on is from what Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne think is happening. In this, Ted actually cheats on his fiancé, clearing stating to Eliana in his actions and words that he likes her, while being engaged. I didn’t like that at all.

F) Elinor/Elaina a major flirt

In this Smith has Elaina as a major flirt with any guy that crosses her path. This is not true to her character or “reason” minded self. It also makes everyone think that she is dating Colonel Brandon, while in the book everyone knew they weren’t together and only Edward thought she was interested in him.

G) Elaina’s Favorite Book is Sense & Sensibility

Reading the book your book is based on? That’s not clever but overdone.

H) Debra White Smith is obsessed with Pantsuits

I mean seriously that is all anyone in this series wears when they “dress” up. I mean it is a Christmas party?! Why aren’t they wearing dresses?! You seriously think that the fashion conscious Anna would wear a pantsuit over a dress? At her age? Reading the fashion magazines she reads? I don’t think so.

I) Colonel Brandon and the Anna Relationship: Together in Five Minutes

So in the original novel, Marianne is dumped by Willoughby: tries to contact him with no replies; humiliated by him; tries to visit him; is taken ill; has to fight for her life; goes into recovery; is visited by Colonel Brandon; and over the time the two spend together she falls in love with him and encourages him to try to start a relationship with her.

In this Anna is sick, healed, and in love with Colonel Brandon intent on marrying him and becoming a nurse in like five minutes. It made no sense at all and I didn’t like how Colonel Brandon tells her his feelings first instead of allowing Marianne that time to overcome her heartbreak, be open to a new relationship, and fall in love with him.

J) Why a Nurse?

I don’t care if you boyfriend/fiancé is a doctor that is no reason to become a nurse! Especially, if you are bad with everything needed to become one. They should have just had Marianne continue as an interior designer, artist. or fashion designer. .

K) She Cut Out Some of the Best Parts of the Novel

Even though Sense and Sensibility has a lot of sad themes: depression, loss, grief, homelessness, poverty, dysfunctional family, heartbreak, betrayal, etc,: it also has a ton of hilarious moments as well. Like when Edward goes to tell Elinor the truth about Lucy and Lucy is there. Or when Fanny discovers the woman she has been promoting over her “plotting” sister-in-law has in fact long plotted to marry her brother!

Hilarious, comedic moments that only Jane Austen knows how to do. And they are glossed over or barely touched it.

L) Christian Fiction but Hardly Any Christian Themes

So this book says that it is “Christian” and talks about having “faith in God”, but that faith and relationship with God is never really even in the book.I mean if you want to write a Christian retelling of Emma then write it. If you want to write a non-Christian retelling of Emma then write that. Just don’t give me this lukewarm mess that is “Christian” but only a smatter. I mean go big or not at all, there is no in between.

So yeah, I did not care for this at all or found it to be a good adaptation or a good read.

Will the rest of the series be just as bad?

Hmm…

Keep following me to find out.

For more by Debra White Smithgo to The Austen Series: Amanda

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Sense and Sensibility variations, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) [Mr. and Mrs Darcy Mystery #2] by Carrie Bebris

So a while back I reviewed a Jane Austen mystery, Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged).  I enjoyed  the first book, although I did solve the mystery quickly, but it was very well written and worth reading.

So while the first book focused only on Pride & Prejudice characters (and ones she made up) this one combines P&P with Sense and Sensibility.

A mashup

Sense and Sensibility actually takes place in the 1790s, twenty years before Pride and Prejudice. All the characters have been aged accordingly so they match up with the Pride and Prejudice ones. It can be a bit confusing when the characters are no longer how they were in their book.  To make it less confusing, I will give a brief reminder of the plot of Sense & Sensibility.

So the Dashwood family:

The estate of Norland belongs to Old Mr. Dashwood. When he was sick he was visited by his family and found young Henry Dashwood, John’s son, to be just so adorable that he entailed it to the men in his family. After he died Mr. Henry Dashwood, the elder, ended up dying and the estate passed over his second wife and daughters going to his son John, (which would ultimately go to his son, young Henry.)

John promised his father to help his sisters, but with an ambitious wife; that quickly ended.

John’s wife is horrible, just evil. Fanny, the demon wife, convinces John to give no money to the sisters as they really “are not his siblings”. She then rearranges the whole household and makes life unbearable for all.

John also has an incredibly bratty son, Henry:

When Fanny’s brother visits, she sees that he and Elinor like each other, but as Elinor is too poor for her soon to be wealthy brother Edward, she ends that immediately. The second Dashwood family all move from their home to renting out Barton’s Cottage, owned by Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin.

They spend a lot of time with Sir John, as he constantly invites them over so that they can eat well, as money is extremely tight. Eventually after all kinds of twists and turns, the two eldest girls marry the men of their dreams and the story ends happily. If you haven’t read it you should.

**Spoilers**

So Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Georgiana, and Kitty are all heading to London for a “London Season” as they are husband hunting for Kitty. They are invited to Sir John’s where they meet him and his wife (sadly I think Mrs. Jennings the mother-in-law has passed on) and their now adult children. Also there is the young Mr. Henry Dashwood, who is now no longer a boy, but a young man in his twenties. He meets Kitty and immediately finds her to be a fantastic partner, good conversationalist, and all around enjoys her company.

Only one problem, he thought she was Georgiana Darcy.

The next day it seems as if all the men were only interested in Georgiana, not Kitty, as she is going to bring an extremely large dowry.

Except for Mr. Henry Dashwood. After he discovered his blunder, he still spent the night with Kitty and fell for her. That works perfectly with Kitty as she has fallen head over heels for him.

While everyone finds him agreeable, and Elizabeth definitely thinks that he will be a good match for Kitty; Mr. Darcy thinks of him as a fop and a dandy wanting Kitty with someone who has more brains.

He goes to talk to Henry, and discovers that his lack of business isn’t from him not caring, but from not being instructed on how to run an estate. It turns out that his parents sent him away to school immediately and he has spent hardly any time with family or at Norland. However, he is eager to learn and Darcy soon takes him under his wing.

Henry has won over the whole family, but soon Fanny arrives to meet Kitty.

Here I am!

Fanny does not like Kitty as she is too poor and would rather spear Georgiana with her impressive dowry. But Henry will not be deterred, as he invites them to his 21st birthday and proposes to Kitty.

Everything seems to be going well, until Henry finds an old strange mirror and a painting of his notorious great-great uncle Sir Francis Dashwood. Soon after Henry starts acting completely different-gambling nonstop, drinking, carousing with all women (married and single of every class). What could have happened to him to make him so much worse than his nefarious relation? Could he be possessed?

So what did I think? Did I like it?

No

I thought this book ran into a few problems and wasn’t as good as the first one.

1) Henry Dashwod was too likable.

So when you read Sense and Sensibility, you don’t like Henry. He is a total brat and completely annoying.

But in this book they made him tooo likable. This caused problems as that reading about his possession made it sad because you knew it wasn’t him, and this poor guy has lost everything.

Secondly, because he is so likable, you know that he isn’t the one doing all these horrible things and that something has caused him to have a personality shift. It wasn’t a real mystery, like in the first novel, as you weren’t sure if Caroline was hypnotized or going insane.

2) No Mystery

In the first book, Caroline starts acting weird after she was married. This makes us wonder is someone making her act this way like in Gaslight or is she actually going crazy?

Crazy eyes

Secondly, there are a multitude of suspects:

  1. Mr. Kendall– He could be trying to kill the Bingleys because of the money he feels that he has been cheated out of. He also could be trying to get rid of Caroline because of his daughter being thrown over. Remember, his daughter was with Caroline when her horse bolted.
  2. Mr. Hurst– If his debts are as extremely high as Elizabeth suspects, he might be trying to kill his relations off for money.
  3. Professor Randolph– Professor Randolph has been drifting from place to place as most don’t feel his studies are legitimate. Now that Caroline is crazy, he has room and board as the prime caretaker for Caroline. Maybe he is making her seem crazy, and could even be trying to make it look as if she set the fire, to only further cement Mr. Parrish’s need of him.
  4.  Mr. Parrish- He only married Caroline for her money and is trying to remove her from the picture. He is supposed to be extremely wealthy, but for some people what they have is never enough. Besides, he could be lying about how wealthy he is, or have hidden debt that they don’t know about.

In this however, we immediately know that Henry is being possessed as the writer gives it away in the beginning introduction and the back of the novel. Instead we are just waiting for events to unfold.

Yeah, I don’t like those kind of mysteries. That’s how Death Comes to Pemberley was (the book, not the TV miniseries. The miniseries is better.)

3) Hardly Any Elinor, Marianne, Colonel Brandon, or Edward In It

I’m sorry but I don’t know why they were missing so much in this novel. We LOVE this characters so if we are reading something to so with Sense and Sensibility we want to have then in the book. It was a crime to not have very much of them.

4) Supernatural Seems Like an Afterthought

This is a supernatural mystery (not Supernatural) but it takes a long time for the characters to reach that point and even evoke in anything. Professor Randolph is there for a second, and then the weirdest thing-the ever staunchly “realistic” Darcy decides to do battle with the demon mirror? I don’t know, it just seemed hastily thrown in, instead of carefully worked like in the previous book.

So we will see what the next book holds. Will it get better? Or worse?

There is one question though that this book presented that I think is worth mulling over. Who should Georgiana marry?

So I started thinking, out of all the non-attached Austen men, who would be the best match for Georgiana (yes I know the author might just make a new character like P.D. James did, but forget that lets focus on what Austen made.)? I narrowed it down to three characters who I think might work.

3) Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride & Prejudice

Pros: Known Georgiana a long time, is kind, caring, funny, amiable, etc.

Cons: Is like a brother to Georgiana, she might not be able to see past that. She might also think he is too old (which he isn’t).

For more on Colonel Fitzwilliam, go to A Murder Has Been Committed on Your Property: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode One (2013)

2) James Morland from Northanger Abbey

Pros: James is a kind, compassionate, caring, and hardworking guy. He has studied constantly and will soon be taking his orders to become a minister. He is a kind older brother and has many traits, in that respect, shared with her brother. Educated, well read, etc.

Cons: Not from a wealthy family, but still does alright; naive, and like Bingley, more easily persuaded.

1) Lieutenant William Price from Mansfield Park

This is actually my top pick, I think they would be good for each other. I just see them as being a great couple, him so sweet and gentle with fragile temperaments. Georgiana needing someone who can be kind and caring.

Pros: Kind, caring, compassionate, honest, and hardworking.

Cons: While his mother came from a high class family, she married down (although that wouldn’t really matter to Georgiana.) He is in the navy a peon, but he does get a great commission through Fanny’s connection to Henry Crawford.

For more on Lt. William Price, go to Let’s Hear it For the Boys

For more by Carrie Bebris, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Too Pretty

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more Sense and Sensibility variations, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Jane Austen mysteries, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

To Edward or Not to Edward?

So when we last left off in Sense and Sensibility things were going haywire.

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

Yep. Fanny Dashwood didn’t even wait for the body of Mr. Dashwood to cool before she moved in the home and claimed it as her own.

All-Mine

I hate that woman.

Hate YOu

I mean

Girl Please

Just calm yourself down and wait.

Anyways, Fanny’s brother also came to visit.

Edward-Ferrars-mr-edward-ferrarsSense&Sensibility

And was such a pleasant surprise to everyone in his kindness. In fact Elinor finds him incredibly charming.

In fact she is the one that pushes her family to spend time with him and see him as his own sweet person instead of evil incarnated like Fanny.

“I think you will like him’, said Elinor, ‘when you know more of him.”

In fact Mrs. Dashwood does grow to like him as she seems him as tender, sweet, and the perfect match for Elinor…not to mention he’s also rich and could take care of them all.

perfect plan

And that’s when Mrs. Dashwood starts planning their match, really taking a card from Mrs. Bennet in assuming something without any real proof of it’s existince. Yep, she thinks that Elinor and Edward are headed down the aisle.

“In a few months, my dear Marianne,’ said she [Mrs. Dashwood], ‘Elinor will, in all probability be settled for life. We shall miss her, but she will be happy.”

Overly-Attached-GF-Marriage-Proposal

Yeah mom, you probably should have talked to Edward and Elinor before announcing or planning it.

dean whinchester shrug smile oh well

Now there are two people who are not happy with this. Marianne, the first, doesn’t want Elinor to marry Edward. Now some of you might think that she doesn’t want to lose her sister, which is part of the reason, but her biggest issue with Edward is that she thinks he is boring.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

Edward as a romantic hero? Marianne says:

uh-no-gif

Here is a list of Edward’s shortcomings according to Marianne

  • He’s not handsome enough
  • Doesn’t have the right airs or manners.
  • He is tame with no fire in his eyes (i.e. too much of a nice guy)
  • No taste in music
  • Doesn’t know anything about art
  • He’s not exciting

Yep, to Marianne nice, secure, sweet is not really what she wants. She’s after a guy from a romance novel who is dashing, charming, has a heart of gold, who loves music and poetry and will focus on that instead of being sweet or secure. Yep Marianne is just like you.

MentallyDating

And the other person who is not happy about this closeness…well (as I’m sure you all guessed) that person is Fanny.

Sensefanny dashwoodSense&Sensibility

She is not about that at all:

Ryan-Gosling-Oh-No-You-Didnt-Half-Nelson

But more on that later as well.

So To Edward or not to Edward is the question for Elinor, of which we will read the answer in an upcoming post.

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Eye of the Storm

For more on Elinor & Marianne, go to Sisterly Roles

For more on the fiendish Fanny Dashwood, go to Promises Were Made to Be Broken