Sunday, January 30, 2011
There were some interesting twists in this story. Caroline Bingley being more of a tart, Anne de Bourgh being more of a hypochondriac, and Catherine de Bourgh being a comedian all gives a new layer of normality to the iconic characters.
I was much surprised with the direction Catherine de Bourgh was taken in, then anything else. Seeing her moments of outrageous teasing of Caroline Bingley as well as her staff had me laughing out loud.
There is also a slight hint at something romantic between Catherine and Mr. Bennet at times, which I would have liked to see more of actually.
The bulk of the novel is about Fitzwilliam, and makes for a much more interesting subplot then the title first suggests. As we follow him through his nightmares, his obsessions, and his redemption.
The scenes in which Elizabeth has meltdowns because of being pregnant were tired for me on the whole. I could have done without the birthing scene as well. It was there, it seemed, mostly to build a bridge between the two women -Elizabeth and Amanda- but didn't lend itself to really much else.
I also found the epilogue a little bit of overkill, just an extra chapter that wasn't really needed.
All in all, I enjoyed this story more then I have with other recent Austen sequels. I thought that focusing on the Colonel as the tragic hero refreshing and the softness of Catherine long over due. The story is laced with humour and written with the ability to capture the attention of both die hard Austen fans and newcomers alike.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Plot: Georgiana Darcy, and her cousin Anne de Bourgh, are both fearful that Mr. Darcy has ruined his chances at happiness. Anne, who knows she herself will never be able to marry wishes to see her cousin with the woman of his dreams, Miss Elizabeth Bennett. Georgiana, who is ready to come out in society and ready to find a husband herself, is now the Mistress of Pemeberly, and does not want to see her brother lonely. Together they decide to create a very deliberate plan to set Mr. Darcy up to be in the same place at the same time as Elizabeth. The only thing getting in their way happens to be everyone else. From Wickham and Lydia, to Miss Bingley, to Darcy's former lover. Who knew one house could hold so many broken hearts at one time?
I have to say, it took me nearly 25 of the 53 chapters before I was really into this novel. The idea was a solid one, just a bit on the long side as we follow not one love story but almost seven. (Darcy and Elizabeth, Bingley and Jane, Wickham and Lydia, Mary and Mr. Nesbitt, Jane and Mr. Nesbitt, Darcy and Caxton, Caroline and Fitzwillam) There is just so many characters, it's hard to figure who you should be paying attention to at any given time.
The fact the author gave Anne de Bourgh a spotlight is the thread I found to be the most captivating. I wish there had been less Lydia and Wickham and more of Anne.
Giving Mr. Darcy a past that rips a tear in his "perfect armor" was a nice refreshing touch. Too many other Austen sequels make Darcy a saint, which can get boring.
There are a few scenes with Kitty reading a gossip mag of the time, exposing parts of Mr. Darcy's past in lush colours. I felt this dimension was something needed to make Darcy more a man and less an icon, and gave the little used Kitty some stock.
Jane, at one point, is given way to her emotions which also was a refreshing twist on the character.
You know the old saying, never judge a book by it's cover... well this is one time I can't seem to get past the art work.
I know that some times, we as reviewers get copies with temporary covers. I really wish this had been the case. The cover for Perfect Bride is just is too much like the cover of Twilight. Which might have been the idea, given that Twilight is a modern remake of Pride and Prejudice, and this is a sequel to P/P. Unfortunately, everyone who spotted the book on my table felt the same way.
Were it me, I would give the art an overhaul for next printing.
It just seemed to me, that this novel took too long to get it's pot boiling and then got a bit over plated.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
Is love by chance or illusion? In this case it's both.
Once again, Catherine McKenzie offers up vivid characters who have a sense of witty sadness to them, that makes them very real.
I'm at a loss for words on this one folks. I can't review this book without comparing it to my own life. Which means once again Catherine McKenzie has hit the nail perfectly on the head, she knows her audience with a bullet point.
The situation that the character Anne is in- in her 30's unmarried, a writer, a redhead, who's past boyfriends have moved on while she's still stuck- it's as if the author Catherine McKenzie were exposing pieces of my own life. I kept reading hoping she had a solution for me, then I remembered this was a novel. A beautifully sculptured piece of fiction that just happens to ring true.
The character of Anne's mother, who is currently on the edge of her own reality and not really paying too close of attention to Anne, was a brilliant element of distance. (Also too close to home for my nerves.) Even though she's a minor character, the mother was a fresh view, given most mothers in modern fiction are too involved, too annoying.
There are moments when you find yourself wanting to slap the character of Jack and then give him the benefit of the doubt. From the scene where he takes Anne boating you're left with this sense of menace that melts into a feeling of "maybe they got it right this time". I can not tell you how many times I sighed thinking if only there were more real men like this.
In this day and age, almost everyone has used the internet to meet someone, so the idea of falling for someone you've never really met is not as shocking as it first might have appeared. This gives an added weight to the element of Anne going to the matchmaker in the first place. Which I thought was mixed perfectly with the minor characters that Anne interviews who have had their own arranged marriages.
Too much in modern society is hinged on how we look, how we present ourselves and not enough on the real person.
Catherine McKenzie manages to take something as simple as eating lunch and deliver every emotion, every scent, every taste with such clear intent that it's no wonder her characters are so easy to identify with.
If you liked her first novel Spin then you're going to devour Arranged. (click here to browse inside the book)
Check out Catherine McKenzie on the Savvy Reader the official blog for Harper Collins Canada
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Plot: Gina is a tough girl from the streets of Brooklyn. Ben is a cowboy from Idaho. Ben is on a deadline, he needs to be married soon or he will loose the only thing that's mattered to him, his family ranch. His grandfather is set on having his only living relative having it all or nothing, and will do whatever he needs to see Ben follows orders. Without any other options, Ben asks Gina to marry him, a women he's only met once before. Gina has never let anyone into her private life before, but a quickie marriage and even quicker divorce would give her the money see needs to save her own family. Neither of them had any idea that once they signed their pre-nup all bets would be off. Can they survive their marriage and both their families or will falling in love destroy both their dreams?
This starts off as your typical romance novel but quickly proves it's a step above the competition. The characters are more in depth then I've seen in the usual offering of romance novels, and the dialogue is as sharp as a nail.
You are pulled in with the first page, engulfed within a set of emotions wrapped up in humour.
A sweet twist comes in around the midway mark when the lead characters find themselves adopting a stray dog who quickly becomes a focus point on more then one level. A lovely bridge between the softer side of Ben and Gina, that makes you feel like the characters themselves didn't even know they had.
The moments of steamy description were handled to perfection without taking anything away from the plot or characters (which I've seen happen too many times in typical romance novels) and even the scenes where the leads are fighting, you're left breathless following their rise and fall of emotions.
If only there were more real men, more like her hero Ben and his cousin Trapper...
I wish someone had told me about Robin Kaye a few years back, as this is her fourth book in her line of "Domestic God" novels.