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The Road to Understanding: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary Paperback – April 15, 2016
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About the Author
Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances. A teacher for thirty-nine years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar. With seven new releases in 2015, Jeffers is considered one of publishing’s most prolific authors. Come check out some of her 25 novels: Darcy’s Passions, Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy, A Touch of Grace, A Touch of Honor, and The First Wives’ Club.
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I was about 40% into the story and, as I said, hit a roadblock. That was not the fault of the author but rested with me. I stopped and took a break as the cognitive dissonance was too much. My brain simply could not make the leap from Regency England to the American frontier. I struggled with trying to make the out the characters, the name changes and it was especially hard following the language difference. So I stopped rather than give one star, as so many reviewers do, and then abandon the rest of the book. That is so not fair to authors. If a reader encounters problems stop and allow your brain to catch up with what you are reading, then reassess.
After a bit, I felt I had adequately adjusted to the changes and began reading again with new vigor and was able to think more clearly about what I was reading. I could not put it down. I went to bed at 2:30 a.m. because I had to read the ending.
There are many excellent reviews out there that will give you an excellent outline of the story. I just wanted to warn readers that you may encounter problems. Just read the book for what it is. A story of people making a new life in a very infant America.
My family, like so many others, traveled and settled in Kentucky via the Cumberland Gap. I was so interested in seeing how Jeffers handled the journey in her story. Her descriptions were vibrant as our heroine looked for the joy of live and God’s blessing in the nature around her.
Jeffers produced an excellent example that the theme of P&P is universal. You can plop it in any genre, time period, socio-economical setting, and the story would still hold true. She did an excellent job in displaying that universal trait in human nature of wanting a home. Her use of P&P to demonstrate those principles was genius. Who better than using Jane Austen’s beloved work to sketch the character of this group of people.
There will always be those examples of Austen’s characters: a conniving mamma / papa seeking a match for their unmarried daughter(s), a Wickham angry they did not get all they felt they deserved, and declaring someone else at fault for their own mistakes or short comings, that people of wealth and power can and will often act badly, and there will always be people of honor who will put others first and not seek glory for themselves.
MAN!!! That is a lot to put in one novel. However, Jeffers was up to it. Once I got my head on straight, I enjoyed it. I was frustrated that the Eliza/Elizabeth character was so dang stubborn. I wanted to shake her senseless. Talk about your pride…she had a double dose. I thought she’d never give in to her feelings and emotions. There was such a delightful epilogue.
Everyone has to learn to rely on each other as they travel as well as learning to share.
As always, it seems that our main characters always seem to misunderstand each other and it happens once again in this novel. Eliza misunderstands Darius but love conquers all and it takes a long road for them to understand each other. Eliza still has a great love and compassion for helping others and it shows how much in her love to help little Finny. Everyone has great respect for Darius as he leads them to their destination along the way with his best friend Charles.
Naturally there is always one to cause trouble and you will have to read the novel but most should guess who it is as to all the other novels you have read.
I won't go into the plot to spoil it for anyone, but the plot is great and different is many ways and yet same in some ways.
THank you for a excellent novel.
First of all, I applaud Ms. Jeffers for giving her characters slightly different names from canon as a way of emphasizing that these people are similar but NOT the same. For example, it took me a little while to get used to Eliza Harris (obviously intended as a variation of Elizabeth Bennet) because her approach is decidedly "in your face" when she disagrees. The more genteel Jane Austen creation would shoot a barb but still make the recipient smile or miss the zinging intent. There are no doubts when Miss Eliza objects to something you say! She also seems quicker to take offense. Even before hearing Darius Fitzwilliam's infamous insult, she takes umbrage when she and her father first meet him with the request to join his wagon train. Darius sensibly answers, "As long as your womenfolk can keep up with the rigors of the trail." Eliza's sharp retort is, "Why shouldn't we? It's not as if walking long stretches is a man's domain." She verbally stabs at him repeatedly throughout most of the story, to the point where I wondered why he was so attracted to her.
But Darius Fitzwilliam isn't exactly Fitzwilliam Darcy, either. He's a former Revolutionary War captain drawn to this wild, untamed frontier, not a pampered aristocrat. His reaction to Eliza is similar to his feelings for the beautiful but uncivilized country he leads their party through. He handily manages every difficulty they encounter, from lining up the wagons fairly, to coordinating wheel damage repair, to delaying their travel over rain-soaked, muddy trails, to building rafts for safe river crossings; and from dealing with Indian encounters, to dealing with a manipulative father and his daughter, to dealing with a traitorous, lazy snake in their party. Naturally, Darius finds Eliza more challenging than any of these, but he's clearly the man to tame her.
There are lovely romantic interludes. Poor Charlie Bradford (a.k.a. Charles Bingley) and Darius just can't make themselves look away from the candle-lit silhouettes of the Harris daughters in their wagon undressing for bed. Eliza gets an unexpected eyeful when she stumbles upon Darius immediately after he's been taking a soak in a mountain spring. Darius manages to get in a few illicit kisses and Eliza, despite her avowed dislike, can't keep from melting into his embrace whenever it happens.
I also appreciated the heartfelt Christianity reflected among most of the fellow-travelers. With all the hardships they had to endure, their reliance on a merciful God to steer them to safety is, I believe, a realistic depiction of most early American settlers. In one pivotal scene, they link hands and pray together, which I found very moving.
This is beautifully written in every way- characters are well developed, all the plot points and the climax are spot on, and the dialogue (as others have commented) seems appropriate to the place and time. It's also very clean; there are kisses and some hints at lustful thoughts, but the story does not delve into intimate detail.
As a bonus, there is a teaser from what I assume is Ms. Jeffers' next book, Mr. Darcy's Bargain: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary, which looks to be another winner in her collection of excellent books.
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I have enjoyed numerous JAFF stories by Ms.Read more