J is for

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Jane.

Austen that is.  Books, movie adaptations of books, continuing stories, brilliant quotes from a woman who did what so many of us strive to do and did it brilliantly.  She wrote.  Some might say she did what so many teachers advocate.  She wrote what she knew.

She wrote of gentlemen–country gentlemen with large and small incomes.  She wrote of family and of ladies who were called such by society and those who were ladies by means of the manner in which they expressed themselves and in how they behaved.  In the words of Marianne Dashwood, a young woman so very different from her sister in every respect, “No. I compare it with what it ought to have been; I compare it with yours.”

She knew the right thing to do and did not do it. (James 4:17)  She allowed her feelings to dictate her actions and as a result, she was injured emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.  She had the same upbringing–lived in the same situation of life.  Miss Austen was a master of showing that situation does not, in and of itself, create character.

In Emma Woodhouse, the same kind of pride that blinded Darcy to his own arrogance and ill manners blinded her to her own prejudice.  It seems a recurring theme in Austen’s books– perhaps because then, as it is now, pride and prejudice both are recurring themes in life.

I remember the first time I saw the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.  Every bit of it seemed so very familiar.  I pulled out the book and was astonished at how closely so many of the scenes were recreated in regards to dialogue.  It makes me wonder if Miss Austen was a pioneer in more than as a female novelist in a predominantly male world of authors.  No, she wasn’t THE pioneer, but along with a few others, she seemed to reach the kind of popularity essential for appealing to a broad range of people.  Her witty dialogue and engaging characters seem to reach beyond Regency England.  How many times have you met someone and thought, “Oh, she is such a Mary Musgrove” or “I wonder if anyone has ever told her that she is so like Fanny Price.”

Who is your favorite Austen character?  Which is your favorite book?  Do you have a favorite movie adaptation or a favorite book continuation/adaptation?  Oh, and if you don’t… I recommend considering Mr. Knightley, Pride and Prejudice, either adaptation of Persuasion, and any book by Barbara Cornthwaite or Laura Hile.

To see what other bloggers are doing this month, check out the HUGE list of bloggers HERE!

Book Review: George Knightley Esquire: Lend Me Leave *Winner Announced*

Title:  George Knightley, Esquire:  Lend Me Leave (Book Two)
Author:  Barbara Cornthwaite
Publisher’s Synopsis:  A rival for the hand of Emma Woodhouse has brought about George Knightley’s realization of the true nature of his attachment to her. He is determined to win her in spite of Frank Churchill’s charming ways, and he has only to figure out how to make her realize that they were meant for each other. As he joins the ranks of the heart-sore men of Donwell, hope grows ever more faint, but good news sometimes comes at the most unexpected moments.

Barbara Cornthwaite has written a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma from the hero’s point of view. Carefully researched and skillfully written, this final book in the George Knightley, Esquire series tells the other side of Emma’s story.

I’ve been waiting, drumming my fingers, impatient beyond any measure of impatience you’ve ever imagined for this book.  Mrs. Cornthwaite did not disappoint.  I feel guilty for admitting that I like this book even better than the first, but who wouldn’t as long as it was done well?  Done well… kind of like Donwell, isn’t it?  Anyway, my point is, the second half is when the greatest conflict of the book occurs.  Of course it’s better!  Again, better if she did it well.  Did she?

DEFINITELY!  The characters stay within character.  The plots, old and new, are engaging and faithfully rendered (where appropriate).  She manages to tie up loose ends without wrapping them so neatly that you are left with the feeling that it is all a little too convenient.  Isn’t that just the worst part of a story?  When every character reforms so perfectly that you cannot imagine them as real.  Barbara doesn’t make that mistake.  She does a flawless job of leaving her characters human enough to relate to, her plots clean enough not to depress, but enough realism to leave you inspired and satisfied.

Within these pages, three men all suffer from the same malady– unrequited (for now anyway) love.  Knightley swings from a “checklist” of things that he can do to secure Emma’s love to the realization that those things are doomed to failure and finds his own heart plummeting at that thought.  From the Regency version of a cold shower (I laughed aloud for several minutes, trying to explain it to my husband.  I got a half-smile out of him… and that’s pretty cool), to late night confessions of love– to a cat– the story advances with as many giggles as sighs.  Isn’t that the very essence of what is Austen?

I sympathized with Spencer, groaned at Edmund Gilbert’s foolishness, meddled alongside Knightley in Martin’s business, and was keen to read of Knightley’s ultimate success.  It was fabulous!  Seeing Emma’s flaws and virtues through Knightley’s eyes was a treat that Austen didn’t give us.  BRAVO! Mrs. Cornthwaite!  In this book you also gain a deeper appreciation of both John Knighltey and Isabella Knightley.

All in all, our hero lives up to his name in every way.

You know, I keep trying to state just how fabulous this book is, but I can’t do it.  Until you read each sentence yourself, see the masterful way Mrs. Cornthwaite has crafted her story and wove them so skillfully into those of Miss Austen, you cannot possibly understand the brilliance that is this book.  The books are so well written, so faithful to the original while digging deeper into the characters, that I think if I was forced to choose between owning Austen’s Emma or Cornthwaite’s Knightley, I’d pick Knightley without hesitation.

The book is available from the author’s website, on Amazon (Kindle too!), and at Barnes & Noble.

So, if you’d like to win a free copy of this book, just post a comment and let me know if you read the first or not and how you liked it! 

The Winner is:

I read the first book some months ago and I love it. My review is at my blog in case you want to read it. Honestly, I need to reread it to refresh my memory. Finally Book 2 is available so I plan to get it if I don’t win. Thank you.

Book Review: George Knightley, Esquire– Charity Envieth Not

Title: George Knightley, Esquire

Subtitle: Charity Envieth Not

Author: Barbara Cornthwaite

Publisher’s Synopsis: George Knightley is the owner of a considerable estate, a landlord, a magistrate, and a bachelor-a state that his brother John is perpetually prodding him to change. Thankfully, there is no one remotely suitable in his entire circle of acquaintance…or so he thinks. An unwanted interloper, a few romantic mishaps amongst his friends, and the dawning realization that Emma Woodhouse is no longer a child might just change everything.

In the tradition of fellow Crownhill Writers Pamela Aidan (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman) and Susan Kaye (Fredrick Wentworth, Captain), Barbara Cornthwaite has written a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s novels from the hero’s point of view. Carefully researched and skillfully written, George Knightley, Esquire tells the other side of Emma’s story.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have the privilege of reviewing this book for Barbara Cornthwaite.  An expert writer with the ability to write flawlesly in the style of Regency era authors, Barbara has taken Jane Austen’s Emma and written the story from a new perspective– that of George Knightley.  One of the most beloved of Austen’s heroes, the esteemed Mr. Knightley is best described in Emma’s words to Harriet when discussing the qualities of underappreciated Mr. Martin, “You might not see one in a hundred with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr. Knightley.”  While Emma may have been wrong about the poor farmer, her recognition of Mr. Knightley’s excellent character and manners is spot on.

This book is the first of Barbara’s expansion of the beloved story of Emma Woodhouse.  All of my favorite characters are faithfully rendered while giving me a bit of insight from other points of view, primarily Mr. Knightley’s.  Minor characters come to the forefront and I became caught up in their lives as well.  I didn’t read a single line that said, “Wait, that wouldn’t have happened!” Which, in my opinion, is quite impressive.  The author gave me a glimpse of Emma from her perspective without removing Austen’s .  That seems to me to be a very difficult thing to achieve.

If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know that I am very nit-picky, but I truly only have one complaint about this book.  I’m very sorry to say that with all of its perfections, it has one very glaring flaw.  I feel badly for mentioning it, but I don’t think it would be an honest review without telling my major (and one) disappointment.  The book ends before the story does– and book two isn’t written yet!  This is appalling, and I think the author needs to rectify the situation forthwith!

Truly, if you are an Austenophile, buy the book.  Do not go past the checkbook, do not look and see that it only has $200.00.  Just buy it, wrap it for yourself, and enjoy on Christmas morning.  I would tell you not to wait until then to dive into its wonderful depths, but the longer you put off reading it, the shorter the wait for the next book.  Make sure you have plenty of hot chocolate, ‘biscuits’, and of course, strawberries.

As my own promotion of this book, I am giving away a single copy.  It will be purchased online and shipped directly to the winner’s door.  If I can get the author to do it, I will ask her to autograph a bookplate and mail it to you, but I can’t make promises (She’s in Ireland so it isn’t something I can guarantee).

Just leave a comment and tell me who your favorite Austen character is and why.  You can enter multiple times, but then you have to find other things to tell me about what you like about Emma… maybe who you hope is in it, who you hope isn’t, or something of that sort.  I will draw names on New Year’s Eve and announce New Year’s Day.