The innocent but keen-witted Charlotte quickly finds herself rather deeply involved in this uproarious little town. She can't help but get swept up in the antics of the Parkers and Denhams, even while she is vexed and perplexed by the droll Sidney Parker. But even the best efforts of this charming young lady may not be enough to save the budding resort town.
©2000 Julia Braun Kessler; (P)2001 Blackstone Audiobooks
"The novel is an enjoyable read, and especially valuable for bringing Austen's fragment back into the public eye." (Booklist)
"[A] flawless performance of Johanna Wood, who deserves a medal." (AudioFile)
Julia Barrett has written a perfectly splendid completion to Jane Austen's incomplete novel and has accomplished it with due respect to Miss Austen's sensibilities and style. Having read a number of novels based on Austen characters, I think this one comes closest to the feel of Austen. It is obvious that Ms. Barrett did historical research and read the authors who Miss Austen admired and used to school her own efforts.
Miss Heywood is a lively, well read, witty as well as beautiful woman. I can detect bits of Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood as well as Emma Woodhouse in her makeup. Perhaps she can be described as a hardworking and more serious Catherine Moreland. All Austen heroines are prone to error. Miss Heywood's is a propensity for occasionally forming judgments a bit hasty and sometimes voicing her opinions at particularly inopportune moments.
The Mr. Darcy of the story is Mr. Sidney Parker, a dashing, rich, man about town who finds great amusement in the foibles and follies of his brothers and sisters. This led Miss Heywood to form a mistaken image of his character. He almost allowed disaster to overtake his family until he came to understand the danger and took the steps that a resolute hero must take if he is to sweep the leading lady off her feet and carry her off. Yes, I enjoyed this book and its quirky minor characters typical of an Austen novel. Even Austen purists should be happy.
Jane Austen's books are not for everyone, but for those who love them, they are incomparable. This book, while written in the style of the period, and even perhaps in Austen's style, was a huge, huge, huge bore. It was such a complete waste of my time, that I felt compelled to write this review to spare other Austen-lovers the same fate. After six hours of waiting for a likeable character to show up, or even some evidence of a PLOT instead of just a setting, I gave up and deleted the file from my library.
Well. I have several Jane Austen books narrated by Johanna Ward/Kate Reading (they are the same person). So, I bought this one because I assumed that the narrator was a Jane Austen fan, and would not guide me wrong. The first part of this book was written by Jane Austen (but never revised, as she died during the early part of writing it). The later part has been finished by Julia Barrett. The "seam" between the two books was clear. It occurred when the narration abruptly shifted from good to boring. I don't like to waste audiobooks, but I've been unable to finish listening to this one.
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