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It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of elation I get when a book gets a lovely review and I am so thrilled with this one from Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric Blog

 

Persuasion

 

‘I think every woman has that within her which would set her free, if only she could act on her inner feelings and be true to herself.’

(from Searching for Captain Wentworth, page 272)

Have you ever wished you could meet a long-dead favorite author and maybe even see firsthand the people and events that inspired your favorite novel?  In Searching for Captain Wentworth, Jane Odiwe’s heroine, Sophie Elliot, gets the opportunity to meet and even befriend Jane Austen through her ancestor, Sophia.

Needing time away to mend her broken heart and determined to begin the novel she’s always wanted to write, Sophie heads to her great-aunt’s house in Bath, which has been in the family for generations.  When she observes her dashing and mysterious downstairs neighbor, Josh, drop an old glove, Sophie has good intentions of returning it to him.  But this is no ordinary glove; Sophie soon determines that it allows her to travel back to 1802 and see Regency Bath through the eyes of Sophia.

 

Review: Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe

October 17, 2012 by Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

‘I think every woman has that within her which would set her free, if only she could act on her inner feelings and be true to herself.’

(from Searching for Captain Wentworth, page 272)

Have you ever wished you could meet a long-dead favorite author and maybe even see firsthand the people and events that inspired your favorite novel?  In Searching for Captain Wentworth, Jane Odiwe’s heroine, Sophie Elliot, gets the opportunity to meet and even befriend Jane Austen through her ancestor, Sophia.

Needing time away to mend her broken heart and determined to begin the novel she’s always wanted to write, Sophie heads to her great-aunt’s house in Bath, which has been in the family for generations.  When she observes her dashing and mysterious downstairs neighbor, Josh, drop an old glove, Sophie has good intentions of returning it to him.  But this is no ordinary glove; Sophie soon determines that it allows her to travel back to 1802 and see Regency Bath through the eyes of Sophia.

Sophie, unsure each time she travels through time when or whether she’ll return to the present day, finds life in the Elliot home unbearable at times.  Sophia’s father seems only to care about the family’s connections, and her arrogant sister, Emma, rests all her hopes on marrying Mr. Glanville and is none too happy about Sophia getting in the way.  If you love Jane Austen’s Persuasion as much as I do, you won’t have any problem identifying the similarities to Anne, Sir Walter, and Elizabeth Elliot.

The one thing that makes life tolerable for Sophie/Sophia is hanging out with the Elliot’s neighbors, the Austens, particularly the sisters Jane and Cassandra.  Sophie is a fan of Austen’s novels and getting to know the real Jane and especially learning whether or not she had a true love make the temptation of the time-traveling glove too hard for her to resist.  And of course, there is Jane’s charming brother, Charles, who is home from the Navy and touches Sophie’s heart in a way no other man ever has.  Meanwhile, in the present, Sophie and Josh navigate a flirtation that is both sweet and awkward…and complicated by the fact that Sophie can’t bring herself to give back the glove.

Given my love for Persuasion, it’s not surprising that I adored Searching for Captain Wentworth.  I certainly could understand how Sophie was torn between two worlds.  Who wouldn’t want to be friends with Jane Austen?  Odiwe’s Jane is as feisty, witty, and funny as we expect her to be.  And because Sophie is so likeable and so real, especially her desire to start a new life and get over her past disappointments in romance and her career, I couldn’t help but root for her to find happiness in whatever century she chose.

But Searching for Captain Wentworth isn’t just about time travel and romance.  Odiwe does a great job showing what women in the Regency era had to endure, from being pushed into marriage and constantly reminded of their familial obligations to a feeling of being trapped by society and how their time was never their own.  It made me feel sorry for Sophia, who wasn’t as lucky as Sophie in being able to escape her world with a magical glove.

Odiwe makes Jane Austen come to life, and her love for Austen and her novels shines on every page.  Searching for Captain Wentworth is a believable imagining of who and what could have inspired Austen to pen Persuasion, and I was impressed by Odiwe’s ability to persuade me to believe the unbelievable.  I turned the last page thinking how much fun it would be to get my hands on that glove, even if I’d never be able to fake my way through a Regency dance despite having watched the movie adaptations of Austen’s novels countless times.  You don’t need to have read Persuasion to enjoy this novel, and since Odiwe is one of my favorite authors in the Austenesque genre, I think it’s the perfect book for a day curled up with a blanket and a hot cup of tea.

 

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I wouldn’t say I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, but I’ve read a few of her novels and enjoyed them. Of course, Pride & Prejudice is a favorite of mine, so when Danielle Jackson from Sourcebooks gave me the chance to read Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe, I couldn’t say no.

Lydia Bennet has always annoyed me. She was selfish, self-absorbed, and most of all, naive. But I’ve always been curious about her quick marriage to that scoundrel George Wickham that took up a good portion of Pride & Prejudice and made Elizabeth Bennet see Mr. Darcy in a different light.

Lydia Bennet’s Story takes readers on the journey to Brighton, where Lydia’s romance with George Wickham begins. Most of the chapters end with a diary entry by Lydia, so you get a chance to see what’s going on in her head and understand that she was just a foolish child who always had to be the center of attention. She was boy crazy, and with a mother who did nothing but talk about marrying off her daughters, it’s easy to see why. I could sympathize with Odiwe’s Lydia; she fell in love with the wrong man and made numerous mistakes in the name of love.

Odiwe introduces some interesting characters: Captain Trayton-Camfield, who grabs Lydia’s attention when she first arrives in Brighton, and Isabella and Alexander Fitzallan, Lydia’s close friend and her brother who comfort Lydia and extend a helping hand when the truth about George Wickham is revealed.

Lydia Bennet’s Story leaves Brighton and follows Lydia through the ups and downs of her marriage, from visits with the Bingleys at Netherfield to the Darcys at Pemberley. It is not only a physical journey as Lydia travels to get away from talk about her husband, but also an emotional journey as Lydia learns the meaning of love and even grows up a little.

Other than some of the language being racier than what you’d find in Jane Austen’s novels (My favorite quote from one of Lydia’s diary entries after running away with Wickham: ‘We have not stirred for days, and I do not think we will ever rise again–though for dear Mr Wickham rising often is never a problem!!’), Odiwe’s writing style made me feel almost as though I were actually reading Austen. I had to remind myself it was a sequel several times.

I know not everyone enjoys Pride & Prejudice sequels; there are a lot of them out there. But if you like Jane Austen and her heroines, I recommend Lydia Bennet’s Story. Lydia Bennet is not a name that comes to mind when thinking about Austen’s heroines, but Odiwe’s story of Lydia’s adventures shows her strength and shows that there’s more to the flighty Bennet sister than meets the eye.

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I’d like to thank Danielle Jackson from Sourcebooks for giving me the opportunity to review Lydia Bennet’s Story and for putting me in touch with Jane Odiwe.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Odiwe, which I will be posting tomorrow along with information on how you can win a copy of Lydia Bennet’s Story for yourself!! Hope to “see” you then! Anna

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