Jane Austen At Home by Lucy Worsley

  • Title:  Jane Austen at Home
  • Author:  Lucy Worsley
  • Genre:  Biography
  • Pages:  387
  • Published:  July 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  On the two-hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the world in which one of English Literature’s best-loved novelists lived.

This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the rooms, spaces, and possessions that mattered to her, and the way in which home is used in her novels to mean both a place of pleasure and a prison. It wasn’t all country houses and ballrooms; in fact, her life was often a painful struggle.

Jane famously lived a “life without incident,” but with new research and insights Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster in fact had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.  (publisher)

My take:  I’ve enjoyed Jane Austen’s novels so reading Lucy Worsley’s biography of the revered author was a pleasure. It’s a compelling look at Austen’s life and, more specifically, how she lived. The impact of what was going on at any given time in her life was apparent in her heroines’ circumstances. The day-to-day minutiae landed on the pages of the novels that readers, then and now, recognize and can relate. That’s why there are so many Janeites still today. I found the book easy to read and, honestly, difficult to put down. I especially loved learning about Jane’s endearing relationship with her sister Cassandra. I appreciated the extensive research made apparent by the bibliography, notes and index. The photos and illustrations included in two sections enhanced the reading experience. I can say with confidence Jane Austen at Home would be a perfect gift for Austen fans.


 

How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

  • Title:  How to Change a Life
  • Author:  Stacey Ballis
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  August 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world’s most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is. 

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again. 

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn’t seem so lonely—until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date? (publisher)

My take:  Stacey Ballis sets her novels in Chicago and makes delicious food a major part of the main character’s life – she’s usually an amazing cook. How to Change a Life is the story of Eloise. She’s looking at forty and fairly consumed by her life as a professional cook for a wonderful family and one very nice older man. She would do anything for all of them as they would for her. That’s just how she is. When she reconnects with her two best friends from high school at the funeral of their favorite teacher her life gets an unexpected tweak. The three end up in a challenge to meet a few goals before they turn forty. This has mixed results but they all receive the benefit of their efforts. I loved El and how she showed the people in her life that they were special to her through her actions. The bet she makes with her friends forces her to let down her guard that has protected her since she came home from France with a broken heart. And that opens her life up to wonderful new possibilities. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves a big-hearted protagonist, foodie fiction, and a good story. Readers Guide and recipes are included!


 

A Mother Like Mine by Kate Hewitt

  • Title:  A Mother Like Mine
  • Series:  Hartley-by-the-Sea #3
  • Author:  Kate Hewitt
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  August 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Welcome to England’s beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother….
 
Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiancé’s unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town’s beach café. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future—and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.
 
Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother’s life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love. (publisher)

My take: When Laura Rhodes returns home to Hartley-by-the-Sea from America she isn’t met with a warm reception from her daughter. Abby has every reason to be bitter where her mother is concerned. She left when Abby was a toddler and only came back for a few short visits over the years. Now Abby is a single mother of a young boy. She’s struggling to make a go of the family beach cafe and really doesn’t have time to forge a relationship with Laura.  But when something unexpected happens the two must figure out how to move forward. A Mother Like Mine is the story of forgiveness, learning to trust, and second chances. It’s a heart-warming novel that fans of the series will love. I enjoyed revisiting the quaint, picturesque village of Hartley-by-the-Sea and glimpsing characters from the previous books.  A Mother Like Mine can stand alone if you haven’t read the first two books. There’s an excerpt from Rainy Day Sisters (book 1) at the end – along with a Readers Guide.


 

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

  • Title:  The One That Got Away
  • Author:  Melissa Pimentel
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  August 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, where a young woman comes face-to-face with a lost love, proving that the one that got away is sometimes the one you get back. Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Ten years later, Ruby’s single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past… (publisher)

My take:  Persuasion holds a special place in my heart so, while I was excited for the chance to read a retelling of the story, I was also a bit reluctant. I don’t consider myself an Austen purist, but still…

The chapters alternate between Now and Then which fleshed out the story of Ruby and Ethan who find themselves in England for the wedding of her sister to his best friend – ten years after Ruby and Ethan broke up. So, will they find a second chance or have too many years gone by? I had fun finding out. I loved the setting but what I enjoyed the most were the secondary characters – people in the village pub, members of the principal characters’ families, etc. Some of them could be members of my own family – which endeared them all the more to me. The One That Got Away is recommended to fans of modern takes on Austen novels. I’m glad I read it and am tempted to pick up the original one day soon.


About the author:

MELISSA PIMENTEL grew up in a small town in Massachusetts in a house without cable and therefore much of her childhood was spent watching 1970s British comedy on public television. These days, she spends much of her time reading in the various pubs of Stoke Newington and engaging in a long-standing emotional feud with their disgruntled cat, Welles. She works in publishing and is also the author of Love by the Book.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/melispim?lang=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelissaPimentelAuthor/

Buy Links: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250130389