Dear Mrs. Lathan, Please do not let this 4th delicious installment be your last. Your Friend, Kelli Crowe
No, I do not know Mrs. Lathan, but I would love to share a cup of tea with her and catch up on our mutual friends, the Darcys. Her enthusiasm for all things Darcy and Regency completely won over this sceptic.
Revisit vs. Rehash: A
Nit Picky Little Things: A
Wonderful Little Moments: A++
The Moment I was Hooked: A
Language: Denuded, meretricious, insensate...I greatly enjoyed the language.
Characterization: There is a listing of the Cast of Characters at the beginning of the novel - which I found helpful. After 4 books, there are quite a few supporting players and family members that my pre-parenting brain might have been able to keep straight....but lets just say that after 3 boys, I appreciate any sort of Cliff notes offered.
I think my favorite element of this book were the conversations between characters. They are intimate, humours and revealing. Darcy and Elizabeth have such great repartee. And so much of the character's personalities and relationships are exposed through these wonderful moments. There is an element of reality and Romanticism in the conversations. A perfect combination.
There was one moment that Darcy seemed to act out of character in his natural, established protectiveness of Georgianna. I didn't really understand the specific plot twist and the character's reaction to it. However...I did see that Sharon Lathan is writing another book, The Trouble with Mr. Darcy. I have no idea if it is book #5 in this series. (I can hope!) Perhaps there are threads I am not meant to understand that will be revealed to me in later novels. And I really want someone to read this book so I can discuss it!! (My husband only has so much patience with hearing me ramble on about these things with the level of seriousness paralleled to a medical breakthrough.)
Plot: Ch. 3 The lush visual of Pemberley at Christmas (in Ch. 3) is like Regency England meets a Norman Rockwell Christmas. The reader also gets to see Pemberley as a playground to visitors. And true to Lathan form, just when I think all is well....well, it is not.
The story lines of Caroline Bingly and Kitty are two of my favorites in the book. (Do not fret, the plot is still mostly about Darcy and Elizabeth.) I adore Caroline in general. (Why I always seem to pull for the villain in these stories is a thread I honestly don't want to pull too hard on, lest I become disappointed with my own unraveled introspection:) But beyond Kitty's ill timed coughing, I never really gave her much thought. Lathan made me care about Kitty (and Mary, in her previous books).
The plot, again, moves quickly and is driven quite a bit by dialogue. The Darcys continue to travel. I found myself actually googling Devil's Arse and Charles Cotton. Mrs. Lathan did her homework in this area. (I even looked back to make sure she really was from California and not England because of seemingly very accurate descriptions of places the Darcys visited.
Revisit vs. Rehash: No rehashing at all. Excellent use of flashbacks to events that we did not previously know about as readers. These flashbacks were very revealing to the character's motivations and actions.
Nit Picky Little Things: Hmmm, none come to mind beyond the previously mentioned plot twist.
Wonderful Little Moments: Mr. Bennet meeting Alexander, "Are you the boss of the road?," the family tree, the backgammon games, Mrs. Smith, Lady Worrow (who's gregariousness reminded me of how my grandmother used to hold the attention of a room), learning Mrs. Gardener's and Mrs. Bennet's first names.
Originality: The farther away from where Jane Austen left off that Lathan takes me, the more I appreciate her creativity. This 4th book takes us through the Darcy's 2nd year of marriage.
The Moment I was Hooked: I was committed before I started reading. I will say, Ch. 3's Christmas celebration made me think of visiting the Biltmore and the lushness of a huge home at Christmas time. I remember emotionally sinking down into the story at that point.
I started out as a sceptic of this series and was won over to be quite a fan.
Book 3: My Dearest Mr. Darcy: An Amazing Journey into Love Everlasting My review of it here.
Book 4: In the Arms of Mr. Darcy (book) My review of it (you just read).
A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute To Jane Austen (released this month) by Sharon Lathan, Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart
Trouble with Mr. Darcy (due out April 1, 2011) by Sharon Lathan
Sharon Lathan's personal web site: www.sharonlathan.net
If this book were a movie, it would be rated R due to how passionately those two do, indeed, become one.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this last book, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, and was asked to review it. Truthfully, I want to like all Pride and Prejudice books. And being asked to review one makes me want to like it a tiny bit more. But only a tiny bit. I try to find the entertainment in all that I read. And usually, "my good opinion once lost, it is lost forever." (There have been a few doozies I have reviewed and a few more to come.) However, I try my best to remain as truthful as I can on each review. If for no other reason, so that I can one day come back and re-read my review and say, "Aah, yes, that is what happened in that book!" and choose whether to re-read it again.
Just in case you need help with the freestyle form of spelling he seems to use, it says:
"To live with God with my family"
2. I carry around Mad Libs for when we have a bit of waiting time between appointments, classes or sitting in the car, etc. (Nice for little reviews of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs)
Max apparently found my stash and filled in the Mad Libs with a few of his favorite words. They actually read rather funny.
3. My collection of to do lists.
Wait, some people actually keep all their to do items on ONE list?
Where is the excitement and mystery in that?
I did rangle all my lists together the other day to try and make a master list.
Amazing how a process can go from empowering to paralyzing in about 42 seconds.
I think I had to take a break and eat some chocolate to recover.
Now I need to go and write "eat chocolate" on my list so I can mark it off.
Reading My Dearest Mr. Darcy was like being welcomed into the home of dear friends who I have come to know over a series of 3 books. The fact that the home was Pemberley made it that much better.
Blurb from Amazon.com: "Darcy is more deeply in love with his wife than ever. As the golden summer draws to a close and the Darcys look ahead to the end of their first year of marriage, Mr. Darcy could never have imagined his love could grow even deeper with the passage of time…
Lizzy is full of surprises…Elizabeth is unpredictable and lively, pulling Darcy out of his stern and serious demeanor with her teasing and temptation. Looking ahead and planning for celebrations and life events large and small, Lizzy can still catch Darcy unawares when he least expects it… But surprising events force the Darcys to weather absence and illness, and to discover whether they can find a way to build a bond of everlasting love and desire…"
Revisit vs. Rehash: B
Nit Picky Little Things: A
Wonderful Moments: A+
The Moment I was Hooked: B
Language: Pleasant and flowing. I had to grab my dictionary a few times - but I like that. (Just in case I ever get another chance at the SAT, I gotta stay sharp).
Characterization: Elizabeth and Darcy are finishing their first year of marriage and are still learning to be husband and wife. I like how Lathan injects moments of misunderstanding and pride into their mostly blissful relationship. It adds tension into a story line where you already know the guy wins the girl. Even though I love the romantic notion of riding off into the sunset together, I kinda like the idea that they may, at some point, argue about where they parked the horse.
Elizabeth's transition into becoming "Mrs. Dacy" to her new peers, her old friends from home, her staff and those who depend on her for their living is interesting to see both in books 2 and 3. All does not go smoothly.
Dr. George Darcy continues to play an important role in the story line as well as offer a lot of humor. He fits so well into narrative that I consider him one of Jane Austen's own that she just never mentioned. Lathan uses Dr. Darcy and Lady Underwood, etc, to reveal to the reader much information about medicine, social structure and politics during Regency England. Who is Lady Underwood? Just part of my favorite scene in the book.
Plot: The book begins with journal entries by Dr. Darcy that reach back to his arrival during the middle of book 2. However, it is interlaced so with new details and perspectives, that I couldn't find any bit that I would suggest to leave out. The journal entries are followed by a series of letters from Jane, Mr. Bennet, Mary and Lydia. It is interesting to start the book this way because letters do play an important role in Pride and Prejudice. They are also a very important way that much of Jane Austen's personal life is revealed to us today. (I believe it was Sense and Sensibility that was originally written as a series of letters back and forth between the sisters.)
However, when chapter 3 began, that is when I felt the like the story really got started. The tone is set right away was romantic. I think I awwww'd right out loud.
Much of the story finds the Darcys traveling. Mrs. Lathan packed in so much detail about the local areas and the historic sites that they saw, I think I could use this book as a travel guide. I don't know if the details are accurate, but as long as Mr. Darcy is reciting them to me, who cares?
There are illnesses and separations. All in all, the plot moves quickly and a lot of it is driven by dialogue. I like that.
Revisit vs. Rehash: In my vocabulary - a revisit is reminding the reader of information already known to him but usually shedding light on it (such as a new point of view or details). The beginning of the book is a revisit of past events via Dr. Darcy's journal entries. While it isn't my favorite way to begin a book , it was a very effective way to give the reader a lot of information at one time.
Nit Picky Little Things: Just this one, little thing....Darcy and Elizabeth have a lot of amorous moments. A few paragraphs about it, and I thought, "Good for them." A page of description and Darcy's copious praise of Elizabeth and I thought, "O.k, you guys get a room." A couple of pages later and I was thinking..."You have a room and I am trapped in it with you." However, this information may be the tipping point to get some people to read the books. And I will say, I have read a few follow ups that have completely ignored this portion of the Darcys relationship and those books have been a snooze fest. Alright...so, um...never mind.
Wonderful Moments: As I have said in previous Sharon Lathan book reviews, I think one of Lathan's strong points is the ability to continue generating these wonderful moments; both big and small. Darcy as a tour guide, "Anywhere but East," the pearls, swimming...I could go on but I don't want to give these scenes all away. My big criticism of Lathan's first book, that it was inspired by the Kiera Knightly 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie, turns out to be an asset. I believe Lathan writes as if she were continuing the movie - in a very visual way. She doesn't just take you from big scene to big scene, but pays attention to the characters on the way there.
Originality: When most other Pride and Prejudice follow up authors are finishing their works and writing what happens to the characters down the road in an epilogue, Sharon Lathan is finishing off book 4 (available this month, October 2010. I plan to review it later this week.) Lathan's originality is in the detail and depth of her story. I don't know where Darcy and Elizabeth are headed, but I want to be there for it.
The Moment I Was Hooked: This is like asking, "When did you decide you liked Return of the Jedi?" If you are reading (or seeing) the third installment, you are pretty much on board. I really sank into the story in Chapter 3. The use of the flashback mixed with the new scene made me feel connected. And warm. And fuzzy. Like a big comforter. (O.k, so I might need to work on my analogies before taking that 3rd swing at the SAT's).
I have read this series 4 times. As someone who was very sceptical of the inspiration during the first book, I found myself unable to stop reading long enough to review these books individually. I think that is really the best sort of recommendation.
If this book were a movie, it would be rated R for how often ardently Darcy and Elizabeth love each other.
In 2007, the third book in the series was released under the name: The Darcys at Years End. (See picture below) It is a massive, 500 pager. (I have this version and that is why I used the blurb from Amazon.com instead of from the back of the book). In 2010, the third book of the series was re-released as My Dearest Mr. Darcy: An Amazing Journey into Love Everlasting, which I have just reviewed.
The last 150 pages were taken for the original 3rd book and added to the beginning fo the 4th book, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy. The journal entries that ended the 3rd book were done away with and a few bits were re-edited.
If you are borrowing this book from the library and you read the 2007 version, The Darcy's at Year's End, just know that you will see some of the same information repeated in book 4. If you are buying the books, I suggest the re-released versions from 2010. I really like the tweaking Lathan did. And, the 500 pager is massive and hard to hold in the bath tub.
All of this I found through extensive research of standing in Barnes and Noble, comparing the two copies...while hoping my 3 boys didn't act too terribly much like puppies in the fiction section. (Always underfoot and yet just out of reach). The 2007 version can be found here.
Reading Loving Mr. Darcy was like taking a nice long bubble bath that I did not want to end. And read it in a bubble bath, I did. My toes were quite prunie for the duration of the book, but my mind was most pleased.
This book is the second in Sharon Lathan's series of four. My review of the first, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Two Shall Become One, can be found here.
Blurb from the back of the book: "...Darcy and Elizabeth leave the comfortable confines of their honeymoon months at Pemberley for the broader world of London and the areas of England. Adventures are experienced, friends and relatives interact, fun is the focus, and extraordinary English Regency Era sights will be explored. But anchoring and weaving within is the revealing of a love and marriage in its purest embodiment as the young lovers deepen their sacred bond..."
Revisit vs. Rehash: A
Nit Picky Things: A
Wonderful Moments: A+
The moment I was hooked: ALanguage: Delightful, pleasant and easy to read. My favorite line of the whole book; "The door flew open with a bang into the wall and with a flurry of swirling skirts, in breezed Lady Catherine de Bourgh." (So Darth Vader-esc that I could hear the Imperial March in my head.)
Even though the description went on a bit in places, I had to marvel at what a fan of these characters and this time period the author truly is. (It made my own obsession feel a bit more normal).
There are less references to the 2005 Keira Knightly version of the movie than in the first book. But I found them less jarring because I knew what to expect this time around.
Rehash vs. Revisit: There are a few moments of revisting past events, both known and unknown to the reader. However, they are mostly dealt with in conversation as a bit of revelation to another character. It felt natural. (And much like when my husband revisits our personal stories. His favorite is when he proposed and my first words were, "Is this real?" I thought he was playing a joke on me. Of course there is more to the story, but lets just say that we also retell our engagement story to each other. Much to my chagrin.)
Originality: For this second book in a series of four, I think her originality shines in the characters. Both the introduction of new ones and the actions of those already existing.
If this book were a movie, it would be rated R for the martial felicity between Darcy and Elizabeth.
Happy Birthday Alex!
12 years ago today we had our biggest baby: a whopping 6.5 pounds.
He was a super easy baby.
A super difficult toddler.
(Biting everyone in his Sunday School class...eek)
And since then, just super in general.
He is the family's IT guy.
(Quickly becoming the family's cooking guy.)
The one one in the middle.
The one his brothers fight over who gets to play with him.
The black belt, the chess and violin player.
The one who calmly reminds me...."Mom, I think you turned the wrong way on that street."
Have a super day, Alex!