Last week Jack Caldwell was here at My Jane Austen Book Club as my guest , one of the many stops in his blog tour for the launch of The Three Colonels - Jane Austen Fighting Men (see guest post). On that occasion Sourcebooks granted you readers of this blog two copies of the book, 1 e-book version and 1 paperback. The giveaway contest ends today and I'm going to reveal the names of the two winners in a while. But first, I'd like to share my review of the book with you, since I was lucky enough to read it meanwhile.
Did I like The Three Colonels?YES! One of the best Austen sequels I've read so far!
Jack Caldwell contributes a male outlook on Jane Austen World. His The Three Colonels – Jane Austen Fighting Men is sequel to Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice with hints to Tolstoj's War and Peace. It also includes characters from other major novels by Austen as well as new ones created by Caldwell himself. What Jane Austen had not even hinted at – the Napoleonic Wars – Jack Caldwell brings forward in this brilliant tale set in one of England’s most challenging moments .
Bonaparte, prisoner in Elba, succeeds in escaping and marches on Paris . King Louis flees the country so Napoleon declares himself Emperor of the French Republic. It is war again and the country is not ready. Lord Wellington needs his best men and they must urgently answer the dreaded call.
Colonel Brandon will have to answer that call, for example. He has long been inactive and is now a very happy husband to Marianne and proud father of a baby girl, Joy. He is one of the few officers Lord Wellington trusts in his enterprise to stop Bonaparte once and forever. Useless to say Willoughby steps forward on hearing Marianne is alone at Delaford Manor.
Colonel John Buford - a new fascinating character with the reputation of being a libertine entertaining married ladies - meets, wooes and marries Caroline Bingley. She used to be rude, grasping, selfish and cold, but ... love can do magic. When she becomes Lady Buford she totally transforms herself into a generous woman in love. At first she probably marries John Buford for his position and for his charm, while he marries Caroline for her good looks and her brilliant personality. Nonetheless their mènage will be filled with intriguing, passionate and even highly dramatic moments.
Since Lady Catherine De Bourgh has estranged her other nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy both as her trustee at Rosings Parks and as her favourite elegible husband to her daughter Anne, Richard Fitzwilliam is coping with the hard task to substitute his cousin in those duties. While trying to save his Aunt’s property from total failure in a period of deep economic crisis, he realizes he has new feelings for Miss De Bourgh. Anne’s health has greatly improved in the last years and she has gained energy and charm. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s new plans and affections will have a hard time since, suddenly, he has to leave for Belgium and meet other duties.
Even Wickham’s regiment must join Wellington’s Army but he doesn’t like the idea of going to war. He hadn’t joined the army to fight in a war and he blames Darcy for his unfortunate destiny.
The historical scenario described by Jack Caldwell moves from London to Vienna for the 1815 Congress . He deals with politics, of course, but he doesn’t spoil the excitement and glamour of the social gatherings nor renounces to use the typical Austenesque light touch.
As Lady Beatrice Wellesley, cousin to Wellington, says to Caroline Bingley (now Lady Buford) : “ It is far different from the London society or even the Court of St James. Here empires may rise or fall. Wars may break out or be ended. This world attracts a certain type of individual – hard clever people who are used to having their own way and know how to get it”
This novel was a delightful discovery . Different from other sequels I’ve read , yet in the trend of the Austenesque vogue, it champions love, loss, redemption, duty and war . It is a real page turner and a must-read for lovers of Austen - inspired novels and historical fiction in general.