Amanda Book Review

Emma Woodhouse, the eponymous title character of Jane Austen‘s novel Emma, is not exactly the most likable character when we first meet her. She has a good heart, but does not always have the ability to read the room.

Amanda (published in 2006), by Debra White Smith, is the 5th book in the Jane Austen Series. Set in Australia, Amanda has taken over the leadership of the family business. But that does not mean, however, she spends all day working. After disapproving of her assistant’s boyfriend, she tries to set Haley up with someone else. This sets off a series of romantic disasters that force her to re-evaluate her perspective.

Amanda is also determined to remain single. That plan goes awry with an attraction to Nathaniel, a friend of the family. When Haley sets her eyes on Nathaniel, Amanda starts to question her decisions.

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I wanted to like this book. But I didn’t. It was hard to read and it felt like a surface retelling of Emma. It was also missing a key scene from her character arc that makes the narrative.

Do I recommend it? No.

Amanda is available wherever books are sold.


Reason and Romance: A Contemporary Retelling of Sense and Sensibility Book Review

On the surface, it seems that logic and emotion are at odds with one another. But, when coupled together, they are a powerful force that cannot be ignored.

Reason and Romance: A Contemporary Retelling of Sense and Sensibility (published in 2004), is the second book in The Jane Austen Series by Debra White Smith. Sisters Elaina and Anna Woods are as different as night and day. At 27, Elaina is a newly minted Ph.D. and a college Professor. A mini-me of her late father, her life is ruled by rationality. Her younger sister Anna is 22, a dreamer, and still trying to find herself.

Both reckon with an unexpected romance. Elaina is attracted to Ted, who seems perfect for her. But as soon as their relationship gets off the ground, it falls apart. Anna instantly falls in love with Willis. She is already dreaming of what their future will look like. Then he disappears, leaving a series of unanswered questions behind.

Will these sisters find the love they deserve? Or will their dreams of romance remain just that?

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The author does a good job of giving equal weight to the modern world and Austen’s original text. My only qualm is that with all of her books, she is a little too heavy-handed on the religious faith of the characters.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Possibilities: A Contemporary Retelling of Persuasion Book Review

The beauty of Jane Austen‘s work is that her stories are timeless and universal. This, of course, opens the door to modern writers trying their hand at adapting Austen’s work in another time and place. The question that the reader has to ask is if the author was able to balance their vision with Austen’s narrative?

Possibilities: A Contemporary Retelling of Persuasion was released in 2006. The 6th in a series of reboots of her novels, it was written by Debra White Smith. In this version, Allie comes from a wealthy family whose fortune comes from farming. She is expected to marry “well”. When she falls for Frederick, who has been hired to maintain the family estate, her aunt intervenes.

Years later, Frederick returned as a military hero. He is also in a better financial situation and a catch. When they meet again, Allie is still grieving and Frederick is still angry. Will they get back together or move on?

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White does a good job of keeping to the original text while adapting it to her world. Though she goes a little overboard in making two characters mercenary, they do not stray too far from their Regency counterparts.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Possibilities: A Contemporary Retelling of Persuasion is available wherever books are sold.

First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice Book Review

One of the earliest examples of the hate-to-love narrative within the bounds of a romance novel is Jane Austen‘s 1813 book, Pride and Prejudice. The up-and-down courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy has thrilled readers for more than two centuries.

Debra White Smith‘s 2004 tale, First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice is set in a small town in Texas. From the moment they meet, Eddi Boswick and Dave Davidson dislike each other. Eddi has just opened her own legal practice. Dave has also just moved in with his aunt, preferring that his neighbors know nothing about his past.

When they are cast as Lizzie and Darcy in a local dinner theater production of the book, sparks fly. As much as they hate each other, they cannot deny the mutual attraction. When push comes to shove, will they walk into the sunset together or will Eddi and Dave go their separate ways?

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The title alone, speaks to how much the author respects Austen. First Impressions was the original title before it was changed to Pride and Prejudice. White Smith perfectly balances the original text with the place and time that her story is set in. It is a challenge that many writers (myself included) have taken on and well, taken their best shot at.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice is available wherever books are sold.

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