- File Size: 5301 KB
- Print Length: 592 pages
- Publisher: Avon Impulse (May 24, 2016)
- Publication Date: May 24, 2016
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00G2ANEFU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,749 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Official Essex Sisters Companion Guide Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Even readers who are not interested in the academic writings here should at least read the new material for the series. There is the final 10 years later epilogue to the series which gives readers the updates on the characters including children. There is also a short story entitled A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DISGRACE which tells the story of one of the women who was also branded with a notorious nickname like Josie in PLEASURE FOR PLEASURE. In A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DISGRACE, Cecilia who was tarred by her brother's nickname "Silly Billy" because men where afraid that her brother's mental disability might be hereditary. In this story, Cecilia gets her happy ending. She decides to court ruination in order to be able to avoid continuing in society. When she approaches the musician who caught her attention, she gets more than she expected. While the story is short, it is sweet and I enjoyed the interaction between the hero and heroine. While only tangentially connected with the series, Josie and Mayne make an appearance.
Finally, there is an alternate ending for KISS ME, ANNABEL. This definitely should not be read until after the novel itself. Apparently, the entire second half of that novel was re-written and the original draft is included in this guide. It was interesting to see the differences between the original and final book. I prefer the final story, but I did like that in the original version, a portion of Rafe and Imogen's story from THE TAMING OF THE DUKE. One of my complaints of that book was the Rafe's kicking of his addiction to alcohol happened too close to the romance for me. In the original version of KISS ME, ANNABEL, Rafe begins his sobriety in that book which is exactly what I wanted emotionally for Rafe and Imogen's story. It was a fascinating exercise to see how that story might have been different.
For readers of the Essex Sisters series, this Companion Guide is worth reading even if you just read the extra material for the series itself.
For me, though, the reason I gave this a 5-star rating was the author's decision to include the final 19 chapters that her editor compelled her to scrap of the second novel in the Essex Sisters series, Kiss Me, Annabel. Of the four books in this series, I always considered this to be the weakest of them (and yes, I have read them all at least twice...I won't admit to having read the others more than four times, though.) While I still enjoyed the book far more than the average romance novel, I remember thinking at the time I read it that it seemed almost as if when Annabel and Ardmore arrived in Scotland, they somehow accidentally migrated into a Jude Devereaux novel circa 1988. (Not that there's anything wrong with Jude Devereaux, but still, one does not wish to encounter Ms. Devereaux while reading Ms. James.) The second half of that novel always felt contrived, and now we know why. Though the scrapped last half of the original Kiss Me, Annabel included in the book is in draft form, and undoubtedly would have appeared more polished and nuanced in final publication, it quite simply rings true. One of the only problems I had with The Taming of the Duke, which is still my favorite Eloisa James novel, was how Rafe managed to stop drinking without support or guidance. The way it occurs in this story, with the assistance of Father Armailhac, makes so much more sense. Imogen appears much more complex and reflective, which would have made the her change to a more sympathetic character much smoother in The Taming of the Duke. Tess, who appears with considerable edge and more depth in this version, also gets a little more screen time, which is also more satisfactory than the way she seemed to disappear for the majority of two novels in the published version. The plot, while dark, is more satisfying, more interesting, and more true to the characters. I remember once reading an article where Ms. James expressed that she felt the rewrite her editor insisted upon ruined this novel, and having read this version, I'm inclined to agree. Unlike the experience of reading the ending that Jane Austen wrote then scrapped for Persuasion, which while interesting, is nowhere near as sublime as the "You pierce my soul" letter, I felt, reading this version of Kiss Me, Annabel, that it is the true ending this book deserves. While I'm sure the editor who ordered this change meant well, this should serve to editors everywhere as a cautionary tale against bowdlerizing an author who is, as this author was during this series, at the top of her game. All in all, it is a fascinating comment on the editing process, and a must-read for any Essex Sister aficionado.
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Also, I liked the "Kiss Me Annabel" alternate ending, though I like the published version more :)