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A Contrary Wind by Lona Manning – A Review

A Contrary Wind

A Contrary Wind by Lona Manning

A Contrary WindJane Austen is one of the most popular authors in English literature, and for that reason there have been a huge number of books and stories written that have been based on her work. These have ranged from the excellent to the shockingly bad. Lona Manning’s A Contrary Wind falls firmly in the excellent category.

A Contrary Wind picks up the story of Mansfield Park at the point which Fanny, her cousins, the Crawfords, and Mr Rushworth and Mr Yates are putting on a performance of Lovers’ Vows whilst her uncle is away. In Austen’s original Mansfield Park, Fanny’s uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, returns before the play can be performed and puts a stop to proceedings. In A Contrary Wind, Manning imagines what might have happened had Sir Thomas not returned and derailed the party’s plans. As the book continues this sees Fanny take hold of her independence and become a governess – leaving Mansfield Park and the demands of her Aunt Norris behind. Naturally this causes some members of the family to resent her for what is seen as ingratitude after all they feel they have done for her (aside from making her feel like a second class citizen within her own ‘home’), but nevertheless, Fanny forges ahead with her new life.

For those Austen readers who consider Fanny Price to be too insipid and too timid to be a heroine whom they like, the more spirited side of Fanny Price shown in A Contrary Wind might be just what is needed to make her a character with whom you can empathise and care deeply for.

It’s not only Fanny who we see develop in A Contrary Wind however. The reader learns even more of Henry and Mary Crawford and sees new levels of vice and deception from them, while Fanny’s relationship with Edmund reaches new depths in the letters which are exchanged between them following Fanny’s departure from Mansfield. On the whole, Manning stays loyal to the original characters and the behaviours a reader of Mansfield Park would expect from them, while taking them on twists and turns that keep the reader interested until the end. Added to this we also meet new characters and explore further the social intricacies of the Gentry; both good and bad.

In A Contrary Wind, Manning manages to expertly balance the writing style of an Austen novel along with her own voice. At times she includes sections of text from Austen’s Mansfield Park, and does so in a way which is almost seamless. Certainly there are plenty of nods to Austen’s original writing(s) in A Contrary Wind which a Jane Austen devotee will recognise and appreciate.

It is not an Austen novel, and it does not claim to be so, but it’s a novel which certainly deserves a place on the bookshelves of a Jane Austen fan.

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Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues – A Review

dangerous to know

dangerous to knowDangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues

Sketching the Characters of Jane Austen’s Bad Boys!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

OVERVIEW:

After delivering a splendidly successful and praiseworthy short story anthology devoted to Mr. Darcy, editor Christina Boyd and a team of skilled and imaginative authors have decided to join forces again for Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues. This time to divulge the inner workings, untold heartaches, and sometimes scandalous pasts of Jane Austen’s anti-heroes, villains, and charming scoundrels. Eleven roguish characters, eleven talented authors, and eleven fascinating tales of human nature and romance. However the question does remain – can these bad boys be redeemed?

MY READING EXPERIENCE:

All stories in this anthology take place during the Regency period – either during, before, or slightly after the original stories’ timeline. Some of the characters featured in this collection are truly nefarious villains like George Wickham, Henry Crawford, and Captain Tilney, and some are more tame with their bad behavior such as Frank Churchill, John Thorpe, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. In addition, some are gentlemen rogues from the previous generation – Sir Walter Elliot and General Tilney (we know those two are far from innocent!)

I read all the stories in order and I thought it was very clever that they were arranged in accordance with the order of novels published by Jane Austen (starting with Sense and Sensibility and ending with Northanger Abbey). The stories ranged from 22 to 38 pages in length and I mostly read one to two stories in each sitting. (I enjoyed savouring each story and reflecting on it before diving into the next one.) If I were to give a star rating for each individual story, there would be mostly 5 star ratings for all with just one 4.5 or 4 star rating among the group.

MY ASSESSMENT:

How incredibly excited I am that an anthology like this finally exists! Although I adore Mr. Darcy and love reading stories from his point of view, I love it even more when authors shine their spotlights on and flesh out some of Jane Austen’s other creations. Just like with The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know met and exceeded my high expectations and hopeful desires. Each story was thoughtfully composed, skillfully executed, and wonderfully plausible. In addition, I loved the elegant formatting of this compilation and I appreciated all the extra touches like the mature content rating system, foreword, acknowledgments, and informative characters introductions.

However, what I admired and loved most about this anthology was the diverse and unique treatment these rakes and rogues received by the pens of these authors. Some authors revealed the past and gave new understanding of why these characters became unscrupulous cads, while others illustrated how even these hardened rakes can find themselves caught unawares by stirrings of a powerful love. I greatly enjoyed the many creative ways these authors told their tales – the backstories they provided, the clever twists they employed, and the new characters they introduced. I also appreciated the fact that not all these characters were redeemed, and not all lived their lives happily-ever-after – they can’t be like Jane Bennet and make them all good. 😉 I admired the honesty about characters and their natures, but I must admit my romantic heart loved seeing some tender tales of how the love of a good woman can irrevocably change a man. 🙂

I loved the feelings that these stories evoked in me, and how these thoughtful character developments induced me to feel more sympathy and compassion for these characters than I have ever felt before. Yes, even for the truly nefarious rogues! Their pain and disappointment, their insecurity and jealousy, their remorse and regret, their infatuation and devotion were all sensitively rendered and palpably felt.

CONCLUSION:

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues is another sensational release from Christina Boyd and her team! While this anthology highlights Jane Austen’s bad boys, it also pays tribute to her powers of perception and observations of human nature. I commend Christina and all the talented authors of this anthology for constructing another insightful, stimulating, and remarkably high-caliber anthology for we readers to enjoy! I emphatically recommend!

NOTE: With some stories marked “mature,” I’d recommend this story for mature readers.

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Meredith is the blogger behind this wonderful Dangerous To Know post from Austenesque Reviews, shared with us with her kind permission. Austenesque Reviews was founded in 2009 as a blog devoted to the reading and reviewing the hordes of Austenesque novels that are recently published, as well as the ones that were published years ago.

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Favourite Austenesque Retellings – Top Ten

an austenesque retelling

Although nothing can beat reading Jane’s own novels, sometimes it’s nice to read an ‘Austenesque’ story. These can be based on Jane’s novels, a prequel or sequel to them, in the same kind of style… We can’t say for sure what makes a story an Austenesque story, but what we can be sure of is that there are a lot to choose from! In this blog post, Meredith from Austenesque Reviews runs through her recent top ten Austenesque retellings.

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While many Austenesque stories take place in the Regency era and many take place in modern times, there are a handful that are set somewhere in between. These stories take Jane Austen’s beloved characters and bring them to new time periods and/or settings. Sometimes these stories are referred to as ‘alternate universe,’ but I like to use the term – Retellings. Often times in these stories the setting feels like a character in and of itself. And I love seeing how authors immerse Jane Austen’s characters and the reader in these unique and diverse settings.

The amount of Austenesque Retellings (that are not modern-day retellings) published may be small, but many of them are such sensational reads I thought it would be fun to highlight my favorites!

Here are 10 fabulous Austenesque retellings that are so deserving of praise and recognition!

* These lists are based only on the novels I have read and reviewed and are my top ten favourites.

**These lists are subject to change.

 

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(in alphabetical order)

1932
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Ms. Cox’s writing style is captivating and charming. I love the time period she chose, the new predicaments she gave the Bennet family, and the intrigue she created about Georgiana.”

 

At the Edge of the Sea
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“I was utterly charmed and enthralled by this novel! Having read the other two superb Austenesque novels by Karen Cox, I knew I could expect a high-caliber story rich with dynamic characters, intelligent insights, and evocative prose. At the Edge of the Sea is a poignant and expressive love story that should not be missed!”

 

Darcy on the Hudson
Author: Mary Simonsen

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“If you are looking for an Austenesque novel with just the right amount of historical content, Mary Simonsen is an author you simply must check out. Mary Simonsen has proven numerous times over that she is quite proficient when it comes to entwining history and Jane Austen! I can’t wait to see where and when she will take us next!”

 

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty From Ashes (Great War Romance #1)
Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey (Great War Romance #2)
Author: Ginger Monette

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (for both!)

 

“I love so much of what the author began in this series – the beautifully constructed integration, the setting, the emotional journeys, the well-drawn characters. Well, Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is just as well-written, action-packed, and emotionally turbulent as the first book. And once again, I found Ginger Monette’s premise and execution to be masterful”

 

I Could Write a Book
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Perceptive and compelling, I Could Write a Book is a wonderful and worthy retelling of Jane Austen’s timeless tale. With eloquent style, grace, and insight Karen Cox has proven, once again, she can indeed ‘write a book!’”

 

Longbourn’s Songbird
Author: Beau North

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Longbourn’s Songbird is a soulful and poignant Pride and Prejudice retelling that encompasses a much bigger story than Darcy and Elizabeth fighting and finding love. Emotive, deep, and sincere – this debut novel is well-deserving of all the praise and accolades it is receiving! I highly recommend!”

 

Mr. Darcy’s Mail-Order Bride
Author: J. Dawn King

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Filled with rugged terrain, rough hardships, and rocky relationships – this unique and enthralling retelling of Pride and Prejudice is one that I thoroughly enjoyed! A perfect choice for readers who enjoy gripping western romance, and definitely my new favorite from J. Dawn King!”

 

Pemberley Ranch
Author: Jack Caldwell

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“I was enthralled by this remarkable and adventurous variation of Pride and Prejudice! I found it to be a spectacular integration of romance, war, history, adventure, and conflict. Not to mention a brilliant blend of Civil War prejudices and Jane Austen’s moral guidance. Mr. Caldwell is a skilled story-teller and his debut novel, Pemberley Ranch, is sure to entrance and excite lovers of history and the Old West.”

 

Undeceived
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“With her latest release, Karen Cox delivers an incredibly unique and riveting tale that brilliantly blends together action, high-stakes danger, espionage, history, and Jane Austen! I love the adventure and the time travel through history this story took me on! I cannot wait to see what Karen Cox writes next!”

 

Undercover
Author: Cat Gardiner

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Communist schemes, sizzling chemistry, and solving crimes – Cat Gardiner’s Austen-Inspired noir mystery is an enthralling adventure that envelopes readers in the sights, sounds, and realities of another time and world. I loved the combination of intrigue, history, danger, and scorching-hot romance! Thank you, Ms. Gardiner for another supremely creative and engrossing tale!”

What are some of your favorite Austenesque Retellings?

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Meredith is the blogger behind this wonderful post from Austenesque Reviews, shared with us with her kind permission. Austenesque Reviews was founded in 2009 as a blog devoted to the reading and reviewing the hordes of Austenesque13 novels that are recently published, as well as the ones that were published years ago.

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The Enduring Inspiration of Miss Jane Austen Now and Forever

Reviewer of Austenesque works

We’re delighted to be able to bring you this fantastic blog post by Claudine Pepe; blogger and devoted Austen fan, in which she asks fellow Austenesque authors why Jane Austen inspires them so much, and why they personally have an enduring love for Jane Austen and all things Austenesque.

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Fans of Jane Austen throughout the world connect with her today in so many different ways.

For me, as well as for thousands of other readers, our love for Jane Austen now continues in the fan fiction stories that we love to read based on the characters she created over 200 years ago. I don’t know how many other authors have such a large amount of fan fiction that is published based on their work, but for me it has been a blessing and a joy to be part of the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community, where we are able to continue to enjoy Jane’s characters and stories in so many new ways.

I am so grateful to Miss Austen for starting all of this with her wonderfully crafted stories and her characters that feel as true-to-life as our very own family and friends. I also would like to thank all of the authors who have been inspired so deeply by their love for Jane Austen’s work that they themselves take on the challenges of creating stories based on her work to entertain readers all over the globe.

In tribute to Jane Austen, today I am sharing some of my quotes from my favorite Jane Austen Fan Fiction writers who have visited Just Jane 1813 over the past few years, as they share with us how they have also been inspired by the brilliant Jane Austen. I can never thank Jane Austen enough for giving us her unforgettable stories, but it is my hope that this post demonstrates our appreciation and love for this talented and witty woman!

 

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“I happened to be at a train station without a book and picked up Longbourn by Jo Baker, which I really enjoyed, though I wasn’t always happy with the depictions of Darcy and Elizabeth, but it started me looking for other books on my Kindle and I was delighted to find that there were hundreds of variations and sequels, and I devoured them. There are some brilliant JAFF writers around and they inspired me. I remember reading Joana Starnes’ book The Falmouth Connection, putting it down and thinking ‘that was bloody great, I want to have a go myself.’ At that time I just used to read books I found on Amazon, and I had no idea there were blogs and places like ‘A Happy Assembly’ or even that Meryton Press existed. Continue reading The Enduring Inspiration of Miss Jane Austen Now and Forever