Book Review: A Certain Appeal

Title: A Certain Appeal
Author: Vanessa King
Page Count: 352
Publication: November 2021

[Amazon | Indie Bound | BN | Find it at your local library]

(Other reviews: Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly (starred review))

Pride and Prejudice  retellings are a crapshoot. They can either be really good or really terrible (hello Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and you really don’t know until you get into the story.

But Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is ripe for retelling. The story of a couple who can’t stand each other, realise how terribly wrong they are about the other, and then have a HEA is a story of all times. It’s one of most popular tropes in the romance genre.

So, what make a story an exact Pride and Prejudice retelling? Honestly? It’s the use of names. The heroine is Elizabeth Bennet and the hero is Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Somehow the four sisters are wrapped into it, as is Wickham, and Pemberly and Meryton become name of places or villages.

Enter A Certain Appeal which takes the Pride and Prejudice trope for a refreshing and sexy spin. Lizzy Bennet is a struggling interior designer currently working as a glorified admin assistant and works at Meryton, a burlesque club, at night. Will Darcy is in wealth management and whose family line stretches back far and wide and the owner of Pemberley, the New York possible hot spot event space. Jane is Bennet’s (as she preferred to be called) best friend who also happens to be gay. He falls in love with Charles Bingley, Darcy’s best friend and may one day happen to be an investor at Meryton.

While I’m not a fan of doing summaries in my book reviews, that’s what other reviews and summaries at the back of books are for, it’s important to understand that this is a super inventive, and very sexy, way of telling the timeless story. ED is a family friendly blog and it’s important that a head’s up about salacious sexy times is given.

There is a lot to recommend A Certain Appeal. It’s a fun and soapy read, the book has very nuanced touches of Pride and Prejudice including the meet cute at Pemberley the event space. Swapping in the sisters for burlesque dancers, having a gay best friend named Jane, their mother is the club mother, and there is even a sleazy Wickham.  King really knows her story and it shows up on every page. There is a lot of dedication to this story and that is incredibly admirable.

The only thing that I hesitate from giving A Certain Appeal five stars is the language. King tries really, really hard to capture the language of 20-somethings and it shows that kid of desperation.  Even authors who are in their 20s don’t drop slang that much. It was a distraction which was such a shame for how well developed and written the story is.

tl;dr: If you are tempted into a new sexy romance based on Pride and Prejudice in the world of burlesque, definitely give this a read.

‘Six Winters’: Scenes from Jane Austen’s Life & Imagination

Jane Austen Six Winters

Jane Austen’s House and Museum has put together a lovely virtual event entitled: ‘Six Winters’: Scenes from Jane Austen’s Life & Imagination.

Presenting six winter scenes from Austen’s life and her novels, you can enjoy the event online or in-person. Even if Covid were not an issue, not all of us can whisk ourselves to Hampshire which makes this virtual event even more special.

The six scenes are:
Scene 1: Jane Austen’s birth, December 1775
Jane Austen’s Bedroom

Scene 2: Family theatricals, December 1787
Family Room

Scene 3: Dancing with Tom Lefroy, January 1796
Dining Room

Scene 4. First reading of Pride & Prejudice, January 1813
Drawing Room

Scene 5: ‘A fine family piece’, Persuasion
Family Room

Scene 6: ‘You will have much pleasure in being in London’, Sense & Sensibility
Courtyard Gallery

You can click on the above links to jump around the event or you can start here.

 

Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters Link Roundup for January 9, 2022

 

Jane Austen in the Arts the 2021 AGM is Now On Demand

JASNA has opened up registration to view over 13 hours of AGM content online! Streaming until February 15,

…includes a mix of sessions recorded during the live event as well as a few presentations recorded afterwards by the speakers themselves—some of them exclusive to the AGM On Demand.

The list of presentations are amazing with everyone from Devoney Looser and Gillian Dow headlining the plenaries.

Cost is $99 for members  and $49 for students. For more information, including how to register, JASNA has put together a packed webpage of everything you will need to get access and a list of who’s who for the program.

Jane Austen and Bronte Movies Currently Streaming For January 2022

Note: Some Amazon videos have “This video is currently unavailable
to watch in your location” for some of the shows. This means that Amazon has pulled the video from their collection but I’m keeping the link incase it comes back.

Acorn

Britbox

HBOMax

Hulu

Netflix

PBS

Amazon Prime

Amazon Purchase

JASNA 2022 Annual Student Essay Contest

JASNA Essay Contest 2022

It’s that time of year again for the JASNA Annual Student Essay Contest.

The theme this year is “Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility” to match this years AGM.

From JASNA:

Family relations loom large in this book, and Austen has more than one story to tell, with four sets of siblings and notable mothers. Essays can focus on relations between siblings or pairs of siblings, between mothers and their offspring, or perhaps on characteristics (apart from sense and sensibility) embodied by a related or unrelated pair.

A PDF of the family tree is available here.

The contest is open to all students from high school to graduate school. You do not need to be a member of JASNA to enter.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday, June 2, 2022. For more information, visit the submissions page.

Per the entrance information page, JASNA awards scholarships to winners in three divisions:

  • First Place:  $1,000 scholarship and free registration and two nights’ lodging for JASNA’s upcoming Annual General Meeting (Transportation to the conference is not provided.)
  • Second Place:  $500 scholarship
  • Third Place:  $250 scholarship

The winners will receive a single year memeber to JASNA, a set of Norton’s Critical Editions of Austen’s work, and the winning essay will be published on JASNA’s website.

For more information, FAQs, guidelines, and previous winners, visit the information page for the essay contest.

Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters Link Roundup for January 2, 2022

Jane Austen Regency Balls

Regency Dance

As we’re now coming out of the holiday season, it’s time to start planning for spring events. What better way to welcome spring by attending a regency ball!

There are quite a few events coming up this 2022 spring season:

February 12

A Dance with Jane: Dance & Manners Class Sponsored by the Sweet Harmony Preforming Arts group. This event is the prepatory for the Regency Ball the following week. From the website,  this class “will teach the dances for the ball as well as Regency period manners and appropriate dress. We will have lots of simple tips to help you create your own Jane Austen looks.”  The event costs $5 and is held at the Clearfield Community Arts Center in Clearfield, UT from 12P – 2P MST. For more information, and purchasing of tickets, can be found on Eventbrite.

February 19

Jane Austen Regency Period Ball Also sponsored by the Sweet Harmony Preforming Arts group, enjoy a night of dancing!  Event is from 7P – 9P MST in Clearfield, Utah at the Clearfield Community Arts Center. More information and tickets, which are $15, and can be found on Eventbrite.

April 2

A Jane Austen Regency Ball Billed as the “…romance of the Regency era at this Jane Austen and Bridgerton inspired ball.” Held at the Toledo Club in Toledo, OH. A pre-ball buffet inspried by 19thC fare is also available. Tickets are between $45 – 160 and more information can be found on Eventbrite.

September 16

Jane Austen Grand Regency Ball A yearly tradition, this ball takes place in Bath, UK at The Guild Hall. Tickets are £75.00 and include a dance workshop/practice earlier in the day. Regency attire is required and while food will not be available, drinks are and the sponsors encourage you to bring a hamper for light snacks during the course of the evening. Regancy card games and other delights will also be happening. For more information and tickets, visit Farthingale Costumes.

 

Jane Austen Season Events

Jane Austen Season

Literature Cambridge is proud to present Jane Austen Season.

Set over the course of January through April 2022, each month has a different theme.

  • Match-making in Emma with Fred Parker, Senior Lecturer in English and Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge ((January)
  • Money in Sense and Sensibility with Claire Wilkinson, University of Cambridge (February)
  • The Art of Influencing in Persuasion with Ildiko Csengei, author of Sympathy, Sensibility and the Literature of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (March)
  • Home in Pride and Prejudice with Alison Hennegan, Retired Fellow of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge (April)

Full price is £28.00 for adults and £23.00 for students and CAMcard holders

The events start 6.00 pm British Time and is virtual.

More information can be found at Literature Cambridge’s website.

Book Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Peril

Pride, Prejudice, and PerilTitle: Pride, Prejudice, and Peril
Author: Katie Oliver
Page Count: 320
Publication: December 2021
Series: Jane Austen Tea Shop Mystery #1

[Amazon | IndieBound | BN | Find it at your local library]

(Other reviews: )

One of my Erika’s, who is also a librarian, an Austen fan, and my weekly date for trashy reality TV shows so when she asked if I had read this new release as of yet, I said no but immediately set on getting it.

The concept of Austen and reality TV really hits the mark with me as it covers two of my favorite subjects.

In the beginning, I was irritated with Phaedra with her billowing Regency gowns and ballet slippers. It was a bit too on the nose for me. Phaedra’s argument is that by wearing Regency clothes as she teaches gives an “Immersive experience,” which seems kind of fun, the irritation began when it seemed that she wore Regency gear all the damned time. It’s in the 21stC and yes, while there may be those who wish it were back in the 1810s, you would be hard pressed to find someone who actually honestly wants to live in pre-electricity, air con, and contemporary indoor plumbing days. Oliver it seems gave up the idea of having Phaedra always in Regency mode when she started introducing Phaedra wearing contemporary clothes, driving a Mini, and having a laptop and cellphone. Thank god.

The mystery was solid and there were a few twists and turns that Oliver took you down that was interesting. Nothing too obvious or out of sync with the character, which was good. The settings seemed genuine and believable and nothing seemed to be too stretch of the immagination.

I did adore several things about the book:

  • Name checks of Pride and Prejudice characters sprinkled throughout the like Phaedra’s cat Wickham and her best friend’s maiden name is Lucas
  • Oliver set Phaedra up with not one but two potential love leads. Neither seem to strike particularly smarmy such as Wickham and both seem to be as haughty as Darcy so it’ll be interesting to see where this goes

The one massive hiccup is that the use of the “Jane Austen Tea Shop” group was sparse and Phaedra didn’t really need them to suss out the murder so to name it as such and attempt it as such was a bit of a misnomer.

tl;dr Overall the book was a fast read and was sturdy in its compensation. Nothing too obvious seemed to be off and the ends of mystery tied up a bit nicely. The writing was competent.  Austen fans who happen to be cozy mystery fans will love this and the series is worth exploring.