I bought this book back in 2011, and I’m still fascinated by the way Nell Gavin wove it together. I didn’t know it was her first book, but it’s a unique story that I could never write.
It begins with the death of Anne Boleyn. Then it takes a step I’ve never seen another historical book take. It sends Anne to the afterlife where she must examine her choices across time, then choose her next one. I still don’t know after rereading it so many times, if this is a reincarnation story or one of purgatory.
A spirit/guide helps Anne examine each life. Her job – to determine what she did well and where she fell short. She sees patterns through time – her mouth, her dislike of baby girls, her love of Henry, and after her last life as Anne Boleyn, her fear and anger with Henry.
Another pattern she finds across lives – the same people appear – Henry, Catherine, Princess Mary, and Henry Percy to name a few. The ending leaves me wondering in their latest reincarnation in 1970, if Anne and Henry can finally resolve their issues, or if they’ll have to return and try again.
Don’t forget to read the back matter. This book may be totally fiction, but Nell researched the characters of Henry and Anne in depth during the Tudor period, and she also researched the other time periods she put them in. THIS is a remarkable book.
Threads, a reincarnation fantasy, opens with the death of Anne Boleyn (second wife of Henry VIII), whose execution appears upon first sight to have resulted from her inability to produce a son for the king. As Anne reviews her life, and several previous lifetimes, she learns about the true depth of her relationship with Henry VIII. Furthermore, she learns that she has been given a hard task: to forgive him. William Faulkner Competition finalist for best novel.
This is the 3rd in a series of books. The best part – getting to meet a different part of the real Jane Austen in each one.
In the 1st one I met a young Jane. She’d imagined and written in the real church records three married names. The third one becomes a lost love in this new novel. It’s used to explain why Jane stopped writing from 1801-1804, and later it explains the idea behind Persuasion. It makes for a great story, and it fits the private side of Jane. She really asked her sister to destroy letters/manuscripts after her death. Maybe, some of them were written from 1801-1804.
In the 2nd one I met an older Jane. This novel was about sisters – her real one Cassandra, and the ones she wrote about, like the Dashwood sisters. The 2nd novel added a modern pair of sisters who connect them altogether. As a writer, there’s always a piece of me in each story, and I was fascinated to find this piece of the real Jane in Sense and Sensibility.
And the final book, we discover the first draft of Pride and Prejudice. Imagine finding something like that – incredible! But it might also take something away from the real final story. I discovered Jane did have a real first draft that was titled First Impressions. It was written sometime after she met Tom Lefroy. Much of this novel revolves around that first draft. I can’t imagine writing a first draft or any other version of a Jane Austen story, but by following Claire Prescott through this novel, I got a sense of how the real Jane Austen might have changed over time, and how that first draft grew into Pride and Prejudice.
Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister's behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn't looking for Mr. Anyone. She's been dating Neil -- a nice if a bit negligent -- sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy -- leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author's own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil's unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire's journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn't logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places.
This is the 2nd book in this series. I bought it back in February of 2012. I liked it, but I didn’t love it . . . so I never looked for book 3 until I started rereading the series this summer. This time, I’m surprised. I like this book a lot more than the other times I read it. Why? I’ll try to figure it out as I write tonight’s post.
This story takes up after the first one. Mrs. Parrot and the Formidables are back. Ellen and Mimi Dodge are the new main characters. They travel to England to fulfill their mother’s will. Their job, to take a walking Austen tour of England and find the right spot for their mother’s ashes. SHE was a HUGE Austen fan.
Their mother also sends Ellen a package. She’s the older sister, the responsible one like Elinor, the big sister in Sense and Sensibility. Inside the package – ready – Cassandra Austen’s journal! Can you imagine?! The best part – the 1st line says this is Cassandra’s private journal. To be read only by Cassandra. Then the journal says . . . That means you, Jane! That sounds right, like how a pair of sisters should sound.
And the younger sister, Mimi, she takes on the role of Marianne in this version, and I think that’s what caught my attention this time – the interplay of the original book, the modern sisters, and the Austen girls. Along the way, I got to know Jane and Cassandra Austen as real people, and I also learned how their relationship affected Jane’s writing. It turns out some things about sisters are universal, no matter the century. That’s what made me buy book 3, and it has Mr. Darcy in the title. I had to read it, even though this version is a paperback, not an eBook, and I’m a Kindle kind of reader!
Following Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, Beth Pattillo returns with her new novel. Inspired by Sense and Sensibility, The Dashwood Sisters Tell All follows two modern-day sisters as they set out on a walking tour of Jane Austen's England and uncover what might actually be Jane's long-lost diary.
Ellen and Mimi Dodge have never been close, but their mother's dying wish sends them on a walking tour of Hampshire, England, that follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen. Their mother also left them something else: a diary that belonged to Jane's sister Cassandra. These pages shed light on the secrets that nearly tore the Austen sisters apart and inspired one of the greatest love stories of all time. They also bring Jane to life in a way that no one has ever seen before: through the eyes of her sister. As the Dodge sisters embark on their walking tour, they too are drawn together in ways they never expected. They also discover that Cassandra's diary holds secrets, and someone doesn't want Ellen and Mimi to discover the truth. As they stumble on their way toward love, the women learn how Jane and Cassandra Austen inspired the original Marianne and Elinor Dashwood and come to realize that despite their very different personalities, they are a vital part of each other's happy endings.
I bought this book back in 2010 because it caught my attention, and it kept it . . . I reread it every couple of years. Emma Grant was betrayed by her husband, and by Jane Austen. Now she’s out to get her life back by tracking down Jane’s letters. They’d been hidden away by the Formidables. BTW – that’s the nickname Jane and Cassandra were given by their siblings, nieces, and nephews.
Lucky us! We’ll travel with Emma to the places where the real Jane lived – her father’s vicarage at Steventon, London, Bath, Chawton Cottage, and Lyme Regis. At each destination, the current Formidables handed Emma a task that gave a fictional twist to Jane’s life.
Along the way I got to know the real Jane through Emma’s eyes, but the trip to Chawton changed mine. Jane sat at a simple table with her writing desk. That’s where she wrote, edited, and revised all her novels. It sat between the family dining room and sitting room. I decided then and there that if Jane could write in the midst of her family, I could to, and I still do.
English professor Emma Grant has always done everything just the way her minister father told her she should -- a respectable marriage, a teaching job at a good college, and plans for the requisite two children. Life was prodigiously good, as her favorite author Jane Austen might say, until the day Emma finds her husband in bed with another woman. Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for the foolish dreams they are.
Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal and left penniless by the ensuing divorce, Emma packs up what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England on a quest to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. Locating the elusive letters, however, isn't as straightforward as Emma hoped. The owner of the letters proves coy about her prize possessions, sending Emma on a series of Austen-related tasks that bring her closer and closer to the truth, but the sudden reappearance of Emma's first love makes everything more complicated.
In the end, Emma learns that doing the right thing has very little to do with other people's expectations and everything to do with her own beliefs. Laced with fictional excerpts from the missing letters, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of a woman betrayed who uncovers the deeper meaning of loyalty.
I loved the first book, and when I found out there was a sequel, I HAD to buy it. I love parts of the new one, but I didn’t quite love it all. Something just didn’t work. I think the beginning and the middle are a little off, for me.
My guess why – it’s when two other characters take the lead. They worked in the first book, but they didn’t this time. Caitlin’s husband Thane pops in to tell the story. I think his part could have been written differently, to keep the action/plot with Caitlin. She is the star of the story.
The other character is the villain, Pamela. She tried to kill Caitlin off in the first book, and she’s hatching a plot in this one too. It totally works at the end. Thane’s part does too. But before that, they stopped me, and I had to push myself back into the story. Nothing’s worse for a reader! I wish Pamela had been injected in, in a different way.
What I did love, a lot . . . this story takes place after the happily ever after, which wasn’t quite so happy. Caitlin didn’t become the perfect wife or countess. She even believed her husband wanted to take their toddler, so she took him first and ran. Her next problem – to hide, so that her rich, well-connected husband couldn’t find her.
Caitlin’s solution – to get a job at a haunted castle. The owner – a necromancer. I guessed what he was, but I looked it up, to be sure. The earl is a sorcerer. He can communicate and command the dead. He summons their spirits, then won’t let them go. The worst part – his wife died giving birth, and he’s trying to bring her back, when he should have let her go. The other worst part – he won’t acknowledge his own son for reasons you’ll have to read for yourself.
I may not have loved the beginning or the middle, but the author stuck the ending. Stay with her when Thane and Pamela interrupt the story. It’s worth the ‘fireworks’ of this ending. Really!
The long awaited sequel to For Sale: Old Manor House (free ghosts included) tells what happens to the newbie countess, Caitlin McLeod Edmunds, when life tosses a serious glitch into her plans for a 'happy ever after' ending. With bank accounts and credit cards frozen by her furious husband, the Earl of Eastwythe, she is forced to look for anything that might support her tiny troop of runaways that includes her toddler, Colin and long time friend, Margaret.
Desperation has them answering an advert in the London Times, asking for live-in staff at Moorcrest Manor, the most haunted manor house in all of England and the family seat of the Earl of Dunwellen, who is reportedly in league with Satan. Equipped with her previous ghost hunting skills and believing in her spirit protectors, Caitlin talks Margaret into giving it a try.
I bought this book back in July 2011. I’ve read it a couple times since then. I love a good ghost story, and this one is great. It reminds me of Ghostbusters, only from the Midwest, not New York City.
Kaitlyn sees ghosts so she starts a ghost busting business with her two best friends. Moira is a Goth girl, and Wendell is into anything electronic. His specialty – inventing gadgets that can find and record ghosts.
Their business is pro bono, and they can prove whether your house is haunted or not. Usually it’s not, but if it is, they’ll help the ghosts – to move on, find peace, or if necessary, they’ll help you make a quick get-away!
The plot reaches light-speed when the ghostbusters get an all-expense trip to the United Kingdom. Then, things get interesting. I’m rereading the sequel. Keep your eyes open for that post sometime next week.
Gothic collides head-on with 21st century high tech in the isolated Cornish manor house hunkered on the cliffs above the restless sea, where the dead have their own plans for the living, as American paranormal investigator, Caitlin McLeod, is about to find out, when she accepts the assignment of ‘debunking’ a haunting at Mor Alys Manor.
Growing up with paranormal entities in all shapes, sizes and species in the Victorian mansion of her eccentric Aunt Penelope Trevelyan, who probably would have been burnt as a witch in another time, Caitlin had been told countless times that she was fated to travel to Cornwall “when the time is right” and find? Her aunt had said it would be love with a happy ending, but Caitlin had her doubts. So far, she hadn’t found any man she was willing to spend more than a few hours with let alone a lifetime. But when she opens the letter from Thane Edmunds requesting her help, she feels a strange, intense pull that shoots a shiver of awareness through her entire being. Deep down, all the way to her toes, she knows the time was finally “right” and destiny had come banging on her door.
Caitlin’s knack for ghost hunting had started in her college years, when she founded North East Paranormal Investigative Services, largely to protect her Goth friend and then roommate, Moira Smoot, from her own inept dabblings in the occult…something that had almost cost her more than her life. Since then, rules had been set up to help guard their safety in a setting, where anything could happen. Rules an excited Caitlin seems to forget, when she arrives in Cornwall ahead of her team and disregards NEPIS’ first rule of ghost hunting….”never go in alone”… by driving out to the site for a quick look around before night fall. Expecting a caretaker, she is disappointed to find the dilapidated manor locked up tight and no one there, at least no one living, for she senses more than one pair of ghostly eyes witness her arrival.
Circling the outside, listening to the pound of the surf on the rocks below the cliffs, she finds the lock broken on the kitchen door and enters. Looking around the fast darkening, cavernous room, she notices that a cot had been set up in one corner and the swing door to the rest of the manor both padlocked and painted with a crudely drawn red cross. Knowing that can’t be good…knowing she should get her keister out of there, but fast, and head back to the safety of the village, she finds herself battling an inexplicable compulsion to spend the night…and losing.
All alone in the dark, she begins to think she may have made a “horror”ble mistake, when she senses not only the usual ghosts and spirits that go ‘bump in the night’, but also the distant presence of Colin, the long dead fifth Earl of Eastwythe, now a restless incubus who plots to ensnare her in his delicious web of dark sexuality, since feeding his lust has been his sole antidote to an eternity he finds both “ducedly boring” and very lonely. But, listening to Caitlin moving about in the kitchen from his attic lair, he feels a twinge of conscience and decides to leave her “unmolested”…at least for the night. And so Caitlin, wrapping herself in the comforting memories of the past…cold…hungry…and more than a little scared, waits out the long, dark night unaware she has been given a short reprieve. One that Colin already regrets.
But when Thane Edmunds arrives in the morning, and hears Caitlin knocking out the hinge pins in his kitchen door in order to satisfy yet another compulsion to see the rest of the manor before she leaves for the village, the atmosphere heats up quickly in the old manor.
Confronting an angry Thane on the opposite side of the door, Caitlin manages to hold her own somewhat shaky ground, until the door falls inward and she finds herself just inches away from the most ‘beautiful man’ she has ever seen….a dark mix of fallen archangel and pirate…with a very disturbing way about him!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!