Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Mistletoe Bride and Other HauntingTales

This book is simply stunning and showcases Kate Mosse at her very best. I read this over a couple of days during Christmas and enjoyed each of the short stories. They are linked together with a tale of sadness and a character suffering with grief or stress. The opening tale called The Mistletoe Bride is beautiful and based on a traditional myth that she grew up with. Mosse decides to tell the story at Bramshill House in Hampshire in 1935, with the story of a lady who becomes locked in a chest on her wedding night, never to be found again. She visits the story again later on in the book, with a different location and narrative.

The collection of 'Haunting Tales' are set in various decades and are mostly inspired by the English landscapes of Sussex and Hampshire and the Brittany and Languedoc regions of France. They are based on English and French folklore with Mosse's own twists and all show a protagonist in crisis. Each story is followed by an author's note which really adds to the experience and helps the reader to understand Kate Mosse as an author. Her style is writing is so atmospheric, I was drawn into each of these stories immediately, which is unusual for me as I am not usually a fan of short stories.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Kate Mosse's first play Syrinx is featured in it's entirety. Set in a Hampshire town in the present day, it is a very effective and emotive piece of writing and really display's her skills as a story-teller and playwright.
This book is perfect for winter reading and I will definitely be dipping into these stories again in the future. 

A Place of Confinement

This was a Christmas present for me as it combines two of my literary loves - the Regency period and  some sleuthing! A Place of Confinement is part of a series of books about Dido Kent, a thirty-something year old unmarried woman, who is sent away with her aunt after turning down a marriage proposal from an unsuitable man. While staying in her aunt's brother's house, a young lady in his care goes missing in a suspected elopement, but all is not what it seems and Dido must interrogate and spy on a host of colourful house guests to find out the truth.

I found this a very enjoyable read, with some interesting characters and a true mystery with some unpredictable revelations. Dido can be a little irritating at times (but then most of the famous sleuths can be!) and the dialogue is a little too modern, but I would like to read further books in this series. I would recommend this to fans of Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. Plus, you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I loved the authentic design of this novel!

Bridget Jones Mad About The Boy

Bridget Jones is back! But this time she is a 51 year old single mother, still as man mad as ever! Once you are over the shock of Mark Darcy's death, this is a madcap adventure of Bridget getting back on the dating scene and of course making a fool of herself in several embarrassing situations. I'm glad that Helen Fielding revealed Mark's death before publication, and although I was annoyed at first, a third Bridget Jones book would not have worked if she was in a stable relationship and a break-up or divorce would have ruined the ends of the first two books.

Bridget is at her infuriating best as she focuses on finding a boyfriend, rather than looking after two children, as she relies heavily on her nanny and focuses on writing her Hedda Gabler film script (she ends up getting the spelling of the title wrong, as well as the writer in true Bridget style!) Amusingly, she reminded me very much of a couple of ladies that I have known over the years, so these kind of characters do actually exist! Bridget's struggles with social media and child-rearing did make me laugh and there were also a couple of moving parts as she comes to terms with her new life. I am looking forward to the film and hope its better than the second one!

Mr Darcy Came To Dinner

Mr Darcy Came To Dinner is a very amusing re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice, which ponders on what would have happened if a small occurrence had happened near the start of the story. Poor Mr Darcy is thrown off his horse in an accident involving Elizabeth Bennet's cat and is forced to spend four weeks recuperating in the Bennet's parlour. As you can imagine, this soon becomes a nightmare with Lydia's tantrums, Mrs Bennet's nerves, Mr Bennet's social awareness and Mr Collins' points of view becoming all too much. In true farce style, all the characters we know and love from the story end up at Longbourn with hilarious consequences.

There are some lovely moments in this book as the Bennet family become more acquainted with their unexpected guest and Georgiana helps the Bennet sisters to become more refined young ladies. I really enjoyed this book and it's one of the best Pride and Prejudice fan fictions I have read with the characterisation and dialogue spot on. I was surprised to find that this was written by an American gentleman, an unlikely Janeite. Highly recommended for a light-hearted and very funny read.