Sunday, 18 May 2014

Review from "Ley's Library"

I was delighted to be able to read Follies Past because I am such a fan of Jane Austen in all her forms. And one of the things I have always wondered about is the events that led to the story that Mr. Darcy exposes to Elizabeth in regards to Mr. Wickham. And Follies Past answered those questions with wonderful prose and a delightful and fulfilling cast of characters.

Melanie Kerr is almost as wonderful as Austen herself in her telling of the villainy of Mr. Wickham as he attempts to get revenge on his former friend by duping his sister into an affair. Twisted throughout the story of Georgiana is the duplicitous actions of Caroline Bingley, a fortune hunter of the highest order, and Clare Langford, a devoted and self-judging friend to Georgiana. Just as Austen would have followed the highs and lows of a young lady of no fortune or consequence, Kerr does the same and brings the story to a satisfying and wonderful conclusion.

It is for this reason I can give Follies Past a wonderful and full 5 out of 5 stars. And I suggest it to anyone who is a fan of Austen herself.

Ley's Library

Review from "Books with Tien"

Melanie Kerr’s Novel Follies Past is a prequel to popular novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen in 1813. I’ve encountered many fanfiction of Pride and Prejudice- in fact typing in “fanfiction” in google and Pride and Prejudicewill be one of the many stories that will post pop up. I must say that Follies Past is one of the few fanfiction that “works”.

Melanie Kerr definitely did her research in both the time era and Pride and Prejudice as she brought familiar characters to life. I’ve enjoyed reading Follies Past, meeting characters like Mr. Darcy once again. I believe Kerr did a splendid job giving more background information to these characters that flow nicely into the actual Pride and Prejudice story. The thing about Follies Past though is that it is a fanfiction prequel… therefore I felt like the story and author was limited to deliver something better. As I read the book, I wanted more out of it.

Highly recommended for Jane Austen fans.

Books with Tien

Monday, 12 May 2014

Jane Austen Society of North America Central NJ Chapter Reviews Follies Past

I was asked to review this book and I'm so happy I accepted. I really enjoyed this book. It may be a prequel but you have to read it after you read Pride and Prejudice if you don't want P&P spoilers (at least that's my opinion).

We meet or hear about a number of characters from P&P (Jane, Elizabeth and the rest of their family) and see sides of characters we don't get in P&P (like Anne de Bourgh).  We also met a few new characters including a dear friend of Georgiana’s Clare.  Clare accompanies Georgiana to London and like any good friend tries to stop her friend from making wrong choices.

Central NJ JASNA

The Airship Library: Blogger Review of Follies Past

I have a general rule for book that are companions or inspired by earlier, classic works. The general rule is this: Don't read them. Too many times have I picked up a play-off of Peter Pan, Les Miserables, and, yes, Pride and Prejudice. It's better to leave the works in the hands of their old, dead masters, right? Not always. Take this book for instance.

When I was asked if I should like to review Follies Past, I was a little hesitant, but also very intrigued. A prequel to Pride and Prejudice exploring the Darcy-Wickham disaster? Of course I'd be curious! So, with equal amounts trepidation and excitement, I said that it would be my pleasure to read and review Follies Past.

I am so glad I did.

Melanie Kerr has a fantastic grasp on the regency era. She's obviously done her research and the mannerisms, descriptions, and speech patterns were down to a "T." Her very style of writing mimics Austen's and it's easy to imagine that this was truly a story written by the renowned lady herself.

Not only does the book sound like Austen's, but the characters aren't too unbelievable so as to ruin the illusion. Georgiana Darcy is delightful, timid, and naive- just like she should be. Her brother was less of a focus, but what we saw of him seemed very fitting. The same for Bingley and Wickham. They were all familiar and I thought, yeah, they'd do that. Catherine de Bourg renews her appearance and is as pompous as ever. Anne was... something. Not exactly like in the original, but I appreciated her!

The only character that I felt a bit unconvinced with was Caroline Bingley. She was very like herself, but she did a few things that I just did not believe she would ever, ever do. I enjoyed her story arc, but it didn't exactly click.

We are introduced to new characters as well- Lord Ashwell, Sophia, and Clare. I found them all good characters in their own ways, and certainly a welcome addition to the tale.

As for the plot... well, we all kind of know it already, but believe me, there are twists and aspects that Melanie Kerr added in all on her volition and they work marvelously! The plot certainly kept me engrossed for two days straight until I finished the novel.

All in all, this is a delightful return to a classic novel that I've loved for many years. It mixes the old with the new in a perfect combination, told in stylistically and believably. The only thing that took away from my reading experience was Miss Bingley, but even that wasn't bad at all.

A solid four gears.


The Airship Library

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

How Not to Write Like Austen: use of the word "want"

Try as we may, we can none of us imitate the genius of Jane Austen. We can, however, avoid a few linguistic anachronisms which might interrupt the tenuous suspension of the reader's disbelief in reading one's attempt to do so.

200 years ago, the word want had a slightly different meaning from the one it has now. It used to mean lack. If you would say, "for lack of something," Jane Austen would say, "for want of something." If you said, "he lacks something," Jane Austen would say, "he wants something."

This can sometimes be misleading if you are not aware of the distinction, because we often lack something we want. It gets a bit blurry in statements like, "all we want is a bit of cake to make us completely happy." This means that all that is missing is a bit of cake. If they were really hungry for some cake, they would use a word like wish or desire or long for. "How I long for a ball!"

I searched Jane Austen's complete works and I never found the word lack in any of them. I therefore conclude that she did not use it. Perhaps it was in use at the time, but I choose not to use it in my work because she didn't.

I find that making this substitution, of want for lack automatically makes a text sound more authentic. The same goes for replacing want with would like, or wish, etc. where appropriate.

Happy writing. Go eat some chocolate!

Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice

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