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Snowbound at Hartfield: A Sweet Tea Novella; Pride and Prejudice sequel (Sweet Tea Stories Book 4) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 188 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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This is indeed a sweet story, in which we see known characters from a novel angle through the eyes of other Jane Austen characters, and we find surprising depth in Elizabeth Elliot, who after some self-examination accepts her faults and chooses better principles to guide her decisions. Very cute and humorous scenes round this story out, an enjoyable regency romance, a comfortable, cozy time spent in Jane Austen's world.
Fortunately, Mr. George Knightley, a friend of Mr. Darcy from Cambridge, happens to be there, and he generously invites both parties to stay at Hartfield, which is close by. Thus, they all enter into the world of Emma. At first, due to the raging blizzard, that only involves interactions with Mr. Knightley, his wife (Emma) and father-in-law (Mr. Woodhouse). However, by the end of the story, various neighborhood characters have been present with all their endearing and annoying qualities in full display, especially Mrs. Elton.
The point of view, very effectively, shifts back and forth between that of Colonel Fitzwilliam and that of Elizabeth Elliot. To minimize the confusion that would invariably result from having two characters named "Elizabeth," Mrs. Darcy becomes "Liza," which takes a little getting used to!
Miss Elliot has had to face up to the consequences of her haughtiness during the events of Persuasion. At age 30, with both her younger sisters married, she is feeling decidedly on the shelf and in grave danger of remaining a spinster. Elizabeth recognizes that the elitist sensibilities she always shared with her father have created their current difficulties. Sir Walter now sounds as ridiculous to her as he does to almost everyone else. (Certainly Mr. Bennet derives a lot of enjoyment from baiting him.) Surrounded as she is by the happily married Knightleys and Darcys as well as thoughts of her sister Anne and husband Captain Wentworth, Elizabeth fights against feelings of jealousy.
Colonel Fitzwilliam shares Elizabeth's pangs of envy as he observes all the irritating domestic felicity. He doubts that he will ever find such happiness because he bears both physical and, more disturbingly, emotional scars from his wartime experiences.
Reading the reactions and thoughts of these two damaged individuals is interesting, making them easy to understand and relate to. Elizabeth may seem oversensitive, but she is still smarting from Mrs. Clay's betrayal over William Elliot, with whom Elizabeth expected to be married by now. Meanwhile, even though he's pleased to be taking over his own estate, Fitzwilliam is overwhelmed contemplating these new responsibilities, and his instinctive response to certain stimuli continues to sap his male ego.
The premise is developed beautifully with various surprising plot twists, including Sir Walter's plans and their results. Characters are true to canon except Elizabeth Elliot, who is given convincing motivation for the changes in her personality. Ms. Grace's writing, as always, is of the highest quality. There's believable dialogue and reactions, delightful moments of humor, and sweet romance. What more could you ask?
Fitzwilliam has his own demons, and he is afraid he will never be rid of them. He is quite literally drowning on dry land. He needs a lifeline. Can Elizabeth Elliot be that lifeline? He thinks she can.
Maria Grace paints pictures. She is perhaps my favorite author because of these sweeping landscapes of emotion that she paints. For me, the most poignant picture in the entire book is a fleeting thought Elizabeth has, but it quite literally leapt off the page for me - "They must invite Anne and Wentworth to stay soon. The two men were so similar. They would relish each other's company." Anne and Elizabeth need each other, and maybe, just maybe, Elizabeth finally realizes her own worth, for it appears that she recognized that of her sister for some time.
Read this, as soon as you may. Austen cross-overs may be my new favorite obsession. And Maria Grace, thank you ma'am may we have another!
This was a lovely story, one that I'd not mind seeing more of in the future.