Monday, 6 September 2010

WILLOUGHBY'S RETURN by JANE ODIWE - Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility continues...

I've always wished a second chance for Marianne Dahwood and John Willoughby. I've never totally accepted the common judgement of Willoughby as a dashing scoundrel, a libertine. Then, let's say that Jane Odiwe made my dream come true: Willoughby returns into Marianne's life now that she is Mrs Brandon as well as little James's mother.
Three years later, when she has put her heartbreak over him in the past, Willoughby comes back with all his charming ways. He is as roguish and as much in love with her as ever. The timing couldn't be worse: Colonel Brandon is often away, in Lyme, to take care of his ward Eliza Williams and the little girl she had from Willoughby, Lizzy. Marianne is terribly jealous and feels neglected . The temptation of her previous passionate love is incredibly powerful.
A parallel plot follows Margaret's romance with Henry Lawrence . Margaret is Marianne and Elinor's younger sister , Henry is Brandon's nephew and  John Willoughby's friend. Their story actually recalls Marianne's and Willoughby's unfortunate love.. They hit it off immediately but, suddenly, Henry changes his attitude to Margaret and everybody around her starts speaking about Henry's engagement with a beautifulFrench girl from his past, Mademoiselle Antoinette de Fontenay. Will she be luckier than her beloved sister? Will she be turned down like Marianne? 
This lovely sequel to "Sense and Sensibility"revisits the beautiful places where we first  met the Dashwoods, The Ferrars, Mrs Jennings, The Palmers, Willoughby and his rich wife Sophia, Eliza Williams and  The Steele sisters. We are back to Barton Cottage, Delaford, London and Lyme.
 The journey of some of the charachters may result quite repetitive (i.e. Marianne's jealousy for her husband's caring interest in Eliza and her Lizzy) but the language is skillfully crafted, pleasant and refined. In the end we are left with the impression that our heroes and heroines got what they deserved at last. And , especially, we feel that the young fascinating rogue in the title is not as bad as we - and many characters in the novel - had believed him to be. 
Marianne is sure: " ..she had loved him once, and he had proved that his love for her was genuine"
What about the other characters?  Colonel Brandon? Too good to be true. Mrs Jennings? Less sparkling than in S&S. Edward and Elinor? Could a match be ever more boring? The Steele sisters? Poisonous gossips!

On the whole, a very pleasant summer read.

This review is my fourth task in the  Everything Austen Challenge II and my second read for the Jane Austen is My Homegirl reading challenge.


Mrs. Higgins said...

I love your blog! I can spend all day reading the wealth of Jane Austen info here.

Anonymous said...

Eeks. What happened to Miss Gray, aka Mrs Willoughby? Does the author leave Brandon wounded or dead? Sounds scary!

Anonymous said...

I admire the good heart of Colonel Brandon but he is by no means my favorite hero (Mr. Thornton + Frederick Wentworth + Mr. Knightely).

Mr. Willoughby certainly is charismatic and I want him to be redeemed but he's too immature.

I love Willoughby's Return though I read it earlier this year, such a sweet novel. :) Lovely review of it Maria Grazia.

Jane Odiwe said...

Thank you for a lovely review, Maria! I'd just like to add that Colonel Brandon is the hero of the hour, June, however Marianne is tempted. As in every Jane Austen novel the ending is a happy one for the right people! I shan't say more than that!

Maria Grazia said...

@Mrs Higgins
Thank you. I'm happy you like it here. You are very welcome each time you want to pass by. The more the merrier!
Miss Gray is Mrs Willoughby, of course. She's in good health but doesn't seem to appreciate her husband's company very much. Of course, theirs is not a successful marriage. Colonel Brandon is in good health too - apart from a sudden brief illness toward the end of the novel. Don't worry, Jane Odiwe respected Jane Austen's will, as she says in her comment above: the ending is a happy one for the right people. The fact that I'm attracted to the Willoughby -like heroes doesn't mean I can't appreciate the perfect gentleman Brandon is! I'm happy for his happiness and sad for Willoughby's fate. (BTW, I married a Brandon-like goodhearted, loyal man!)
It seems we are rivals in love, K. Your ideal man is JUST , EXACTLY, PRECISELY like mine! Lots of John Thornton, a good quantity of Captain Wentworth plus a little Mr Knightley and... THAT'S HIM!
As for Willoughby, that's what I wished for him, his redemption and final happiness and , maybe, Jane Odiwe gives us that partly : he is more mature at the end of her story, he makes the right decisions and he might even go on improving ...
@Jane Odiwe
Hello, Jane!
It's such a pleasure and an honour to have you here. Thanks for your contibution and, especially, for your delightful continuation of S&S. There aren't many, actually, and I so wanted to read about Marianne and Willoughby after all that suffering. You've made one of my Austenesque wishes come true!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

It's sounds pretty interesting, but I don't know if I could stand seeing Edward and Elinor in a boring marriage.

Maria Grazia said...

@Avid Reader
Don't tell me you'd have expected a passionate marriage. They are both so dutiful, responsible, sensible ...

Audra said...

Lovely review -- I quite loved S&S and liked all the men -- rogues or heroes! This looks like fun!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I've always wished a second chance for Marianne Dahwood and John Willoughby. I've never totally accepted the common judgement of Willoughby as a dashing scoundrel, a libertine.

After Willoughby had impregnated and abandoned Brandon's ward, and abandoned Marianne for a wealthy wife; I find it hard NOT to accept him as a libertine.

And although I'm usually attracted to extroverted types. But Willoughby is a bit too unreliable for me to find him attractive.