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Snowbound at Hartfield: A Sweet Tea Novella; Pride and Prejudice sequel (Sweet Tea Stories Book 4) Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
First, the book felt like I was running into old friends. Here was Mr. Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Emma, and Mr. Knightly! All characters for whom I have inordinate fondness, and whom I like to think of in their future endeavors. But what’s this? Sir Walter Elliot and his over-proud daughter Elizabeth Elliot? They’re not favorites of mine; are they here for comic effect? A foil for the heroine? Wait! It seems that Elizabeth Elliot is to be the romantic protagonist! How can this be?
Quite well done, actually. Elizabeth Elliot is not the same woman she is at the beginning of Austen’s Persuasion. Her cousin’s defection and making her former best friend his mistress has humbled her into the dust. Well, comparatively humbled her. The author doesn’t foolishly do a complete turnaround for Elizabeth. She is still a baronet’s daughter. She is still aware of her station. But now she is aware she is a spinster who has to practice economies. A woman abandoned by a suitor in favor a younger sister, and then had that suitor take the woman she was closest to as his lover. The humiliation is almost, but not quite, as bad as the pain of her friend's betrayal.
Colonel Fitzwilliam is no longer the cocky free-spirited young man he was in Pride and Prejudice, either. He’s got what would later be known as shell-shock, or post traumatic stress disorder. He fought in the Napoleonic wars, and they were brutal. He’s embarrassed by his condition, because such things were thought of as personal failings in the Regency era. (There are still some idiots who think it is a personal failing nowadays, too – but we won’t speak of them.) He no longer feels like quite the catch he once was. He is now landed, and can marry without “some attention to money”, but what woman would have him? He has scars. He can no longer hunt because he cannot bear the sound of the guns. Maybe a proper woman, one otherwise on the shelf?
The charming element of the book is the way the fall in love, wherein their flaws become assets to one another, and the reader is left with a decided satisfaction that Fitzwilliam and Miss Elliot achieve their happily ever after.
I really enjoyed this novella, and would recommend it to any Austen or Regency romance fan.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This is indeed a sweet story, in which we see known characters from a novel angle through the eyes of other Jane Austen characters, and we find surprising depth in Elizabeth Elliot, who after some self-examination accepts her faults and chooses better principles to guide her decisions. Very cute and humorous scenes round this story out, an enjoyable regency romance, a comfortable, cozy time spent in Jane Austen's world.
Fortunately, Mr. George Knightley, a friend of Mr. Darcy from Cambridge, happens to be there, and he generously invites both parties to stay at Hartfield, which is close by. Thus, they all enter into the world of Emma. At first, due to the raging blizzard, that only involves interactions with Mr. Knightley, his wife (Emma) and father-in-law (Mr. Woodhouse). However, by the end of the story, various neighborhood characters have been present with all their endearing and annoying qualities in full display, especially Mrs. Elton.
The point of view, very effectively, shifts back and forth between that of Colonel Fitzwilliam and that of Elizabeth Elliot. To minimize the confusion that would invariably result from having two characters named "Elizabeth," Mrs. Darcy becomes "Liza," which takes a little getting used to!
Miss Elliot has had to face up to the consequences of her haughtiness during the events of Persuasion. At age 30, with both her younger sisters married, she is feeling decidedly on the shelf and in grave danger of remaining a spinster. Elizabeth recognizes that the elitist sensibilities she always shared with her father have created their current difficulties. Sir Walter now sounds as ridiculous to her as he does to almost everyone else. (Certainly Mr. Bennet derives a lot of enjoyment from baiting him.) Surrounded as she is by the happily married Knightleys and Darcys as well as thoughts of her sister Anne and husband Captain Wentworth, Elizabeth fights against feelings of jealousy.
Colonel Fitzwilliam shares Elizabeth's pangs of envy as he observes all the irritating domestic felicity. He doubts that he will ever find such happiness because he bears both physical and, more disturbingly, emotional scars from his wartime experiences.
Reading the reactions and thoughts of these two damaged individuals is interesting, making them easy to understand and relate to. Elizabeth may seem oversensitive, but she is still smarting from Mrs. Clay's betrayal over William Elliot, with whom Elizabeth expected to be married by now. Meanwhile, even though he's pleased to be taking over his own estate, Fitzwilliam is overwhelmed contemplating these new responsibilities, and his instinctive response to certain stimuli continues to sap his male ego.
The premise is developed beautifully with various surprising plot twists, including Sir Walter's plans and their results. Characters are true to canon except Elizabeth Elliot, who is given convincing motivation for the changes in her personality. Ms. Grace's writing, as always, is of the highest quality. There's believable dialogue and reactions, delightful moments of humor, and sweet romance. What more could you ask?
Fitzwilliam has his own demons, and he is afraid he will never be rid of them. He is quite literally drowning on dry land. He needs a lifeline. Can Elizabeth Elliot be that lifeline? He thinks she can.
Maria Grace paints pictures. She is perhaps my favorite author because of these sweeping landscapes of emotion that she paints. For me, the most poignant picture in the entire book is a fleeting thought Elizabeth has, but it quite literally leapt off the page for me - "They must invite Anne and Wentworth to stay soon. The two men were so similar. They would relish each other's company." Anne and Elizabeth need each other, and maybe, just maybe, Elizabeth finally realizes her own worth, for it appears that she recognized that of her sister for some time.
Read this, as soon as you may. Austen cross-overs may be my new favorite obsession. And Maria Grace, thank you ma'am may we have another!
This was a lovely story, one that I'd not mind seeing more of in the future.
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