I first read this book a few years back. My dear friend Laura is such a Jane Austen fan and one year I was trying to find a gift for her. I was perusing the spines in the YA section and saw the title: The Dashwood Sisters Secrets of Love. I think I pulled it from the shelf a little indignantly.When I saw that it was a retelling I didn't necessarily feel too much better about it but I figured it would be worth a shot.
So it became a gift for Laura. She absolutely loved it but it was still a few years before I picked it up.
I think the fun thing about this book is that it updates the story so that it makes more sense for this time period and a younger audience but it definitely keeps the spirit behind the book true.
Elinor was always my favorite of the Dashwood sisters and Ellie is still my favorite. If you've been reading any of my posts for any length of time you'll notice that I am always fond of the practical heroines. Ellie is practical. She is the one who keeps her family functional. But she's not without a sense of humor or sense of adventure. She wants so badly to follow her heart but knows that is not the right thing to do with Lucy in the picture.The biggest difference between Ellie and Elinor is that I feel as if Elinor is much more long suffering but in terms of the plot it makes more sense.
There are so many male characters in books who are the family black sheep. The ones who want to study art when their father wants them to study law. That's who Blake is. The funny thing is that for some reason it never really occurred to me that Edward was that character in Sense and Sensibility. He totally is, I just never connected it, for some reason.
Like Edward, Blake has this steady sort of appeal to him even though he's likely about to send his life into upheaval for his art. He knows what he wants and knows what he has to do to get it and is always trying to do what's right. Essentially, he's perfectly suited for Ellie. The only thing that bothers me is that I don't understand how he got into a relationship with Lucy to begin with.
Rushton's Lucy isn't quite Austen's Lucy. She's not insipid and mildly manipulative. She's really kind of a bitch. Her nature doesn't line up with Blake's at all. I wish we'd been given a little insight into that.
I'm not sure why Marianne's name was changed to Abigail but I'll take it. I have never been a huge Marianne fan. There's definitely something to be said for following your passions but this particular Dashwood sister takes it a little far. She's always seemed silly to me and Abby definitely follows suit. I could totally see Marianne being an actress though, so many points to Rushton for that one. I think Abby is a wonderful modern Marianne.
Her love life is, as to be expected, complicated. I see why Nick is not older like Colonel Brandon but why couldn't he be named Brandon? Anyway, with my practicality I have never been taken in by Willoughby and I was even less taken by Hunter. They do have that whole savior thing but, though Willoughby's true colors took a little longer to come out, Hunter made his asshattery pretty evident on the spot. Basically, I was totally rooting for Nick. And I think adding the friend who is in love with Nick is another great modernization on Rushton's part.
I really like the expansion of Margaret's character. She was always a bit more adventurous and rough and tumble like Rushton's Georgie (again with the name!). I think she was given a very natural progression and her story line, though perhaps not as grand as her sisters' was cute. Her realization that boys are something more than friends is subtle and well done. She's a good blend of Elinor and Abby, though might lean a little more toward Abby.
Overall I really enjoyed Rosie Rushton's The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love. I think it could have benefited from a little more fleshed out a story in some places but I think it's a really good, practical and believable modernization of a classic. It's a great, easy, fun, fast read. I read it in one sitting both times I read it. Anyone who wants to ease their way into Austen will find this a fun book. Anyone who is already a fan and understanding of compromise and adaptation should enjoy it as well.
Overall I give The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love a rating of Epic.
With any luck I'll have my last catch-up post done for tomorrow. I'm sad that I was so far behind and didn't get my No Kiss Blogfest post done. Sad day. Definitely. Maybe I'll post it later? Once I'm caught up I'll get to start Shadow and Bone! So I need to get moving.