When is a Second Chance the Only Way Home?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Once again, Joana Starnes has written a P&P variation that deserves to be read, savored and celebrated. Mrs. Starnes has crafted a fresh JAFF story, amongst an array of JAFF books that deal with a similar storyline. Yet, her story is resolved in her own heartwarming, romantic and creative ways.
I know that many JAFF readers have already read this book or placed it on their TBR list. If this blog had been launched earlier this year, I would have reviewed this book early in its publication, because as an admirer of all of Joana Starnes’ books, I read this book within three days of its release date. Yet, I just couldn’t launch a blog event dedicated to Colonel Fitzwilliam without sharing this story and since Joana is such a generous author, she immediately offered a readers’ choice giveaway for my blog when this event was being organized.
I love that this story is so close to canon in so many lovely ways, because Starnes incorporates phrases and details that one would often find in Austen’s own work. As an author who lives in England, Starnes is also well-acquainted with England, so she is comfortable including many places throughout England in her stories that aren’t often found within other JAFF stories. Even as our characters travel by carriage through the English countryside, we become familiar with the sights and scenes that they pass through when we read a Starnes novel.
There’s so much to admire in the way that this story is crafted, such as the alternating point of views shared in this story, which help us understand the characters’ interior personalities, the motives behind many of the characters actions, etc… Yet, the dilemma between Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who are two beloved cousins, is something JAFF readers must grapple with throughout this story. I love Darcy, I love Elizabeth, and I also love Colonel Fitzwilliam… and I want no one hurt here… but I do want a story that feels like a realistic love triangle, sprinkled with just the right amount of sorrow, angst and misunderstandings. Basically, I want it all!!!
The good news is Joana Starnes certainly delivers all of this and more… She does a fabulous job pacing her love triangle over a significant timeframe, which for me, lent credence to the plausibility of this plot. These aren’t feelings that are developed at a whim… There are genuine personal struggles, combined with plenty of conceivable obstacles, which create difficult journeys for our characters to navigate through, as they endure their quests, searching for the affections and love that only the right partner can provide for us.
As in Austen’s own work, our characters struggle with their own self-awareness, as Darcy, Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who appear outwardly confident and self-assured, find themselves questioning the very core of their feelings and beliefs. It is within these struggles that we witness how love not only alters us, but how his love also can alter the people we dearly love… Readers are treated to moments of everyday candor and routine interactions that allow our characters to slowly understand and reveal their true intentions, while Darcy, Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam come to terms with who they truly are and what they really want in their lives.
The parallel actions of Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam are observable throughout the book. The reader just needs to pay close attention to them as they are revealed, because it is these parallel actions that prevent us from harboring ill tidings towards either man by the story’s conclusion. One man struggles at the beginning of the development of his feelings, the other towards the end. The consequences experienced by each man, as he comes to realize Elizabeth’s own predicament, leaves the reader wondering if a satisfying conclusion can be achieved for anyone. Truly, how can one choose one’s fate when so much seems to hang in the balance?
Starnes’ writing craft is beautifully displayed within the pages of this text. Similar to Austen, she moves her plot quickly within the actions of her scenes, yet slowly enough between her characters so that the reader feels as though he/she is a guest within a given room, or ambling through the garden or hiding in the dark and private hallways that our characters share together… just close enough to share their struggles, even when the characters themselves can’t identify the exact nature of their own feelings.
Another brilliant move is how Starnes develops her own unique solutions for her characters, leaving the reader feeling like he/she has sat alongside a friend and served as witness to his/her greatest struggles. Her solutions are not quick, easy fixes, but are born through a curvaceous plot and carefully drawn, complex characters. I struggled alongside each of these characters and I felt like the story ended where it needed to end…
As with any great read, I also found myself coming back to parts of the book where I felt such a deep connection with the characters, such as here:
“Brought back into sharp focus by the discovery of what it truly meant, being in love, the affection she had felt – that she still felt, was revealed for what it finally was: fondness for a kindred spirit, esteem, warm understanding and an attraction to handsome man. Enough to base a marriage on, of course- most women entered matrimony with less- but woefully insufficient now that she could compare one set of feelings with another.”
These feelings are so similar to what I am left feeling after reading another JAFF book by Joana Starnes… The knowledge of what a truly wonderful read feels like, combined with the hopes she will continue to write more JAFF… Thank you Mrs. Starnes for demonstrating to readers once again why you’re one of JAFF’s finest authors…
The following Pinterest Board serves as a source of inspiration for our Just Jane 1813 readers to enjoy…https://www.pinterest.com/justjane1813/the-unthinkable-triangle/
Joana Starnes has offered our Just Jane 1813 readers an opportunity to enter a giveaway for an ebook copy of his/her choice, from any JAFF book written by Joana Starnes. To enter this giveaway, please tell us why you enjoy JAFF triangle stories. All comments should be submitted by November 15th. The giveaway winner will be announced on this blog on November 17, 2015.