I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Allie for my ecopy of the book, my thoughts are my own. You can get your own copy of this book from AMAZON UK.
The new novel from Readers’ Favourite silver medalist Allie Cresswell.
Thirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.
Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.
Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.
Mrs Bates of Highbury is the first of three novels by the Amazon #1 best-selling Allie Cresswell, which trace the pre-history of Emma and then run in parallel to it.
Mrs Bates is widowed and with her daughters Hettie and Jane they find their circumstances have changed. Instead of the Vicarage, they now live above a shop in Highbury. This story is set 30 years before Jane Austen’s Emma and is written as a prequel.
I am a little bit of a Classic Literature fan and I am a little nervous about approaching a book that involves the well-known Classics, but I always have an open mind. Well I have to say Allie Cresswell had me hooked with this story from the very first pages. The general feel of the those first pages just felt right, the words, the descriptions, society at the time… yes everything felt as it should be.
The Bates family were well thought of through the community of Highbury, mixing in many different social circles and never seemed to pay any heed to wealth or status. This however could not be said for the incoming Winwood family at the Vicarage.
Mrs Winwood and her daughters made their feelings about their class and status felt very early on. They are not there to be part of the community but instead to show off and drag their fellow residents up to their own standards.
With the shenanigans of the Mrs Winwood and the more reserved Mrs Bates I got to see a brilliant comparison between two very different women, and also how other people were to see them as well.
No story of this style would be complete without a local landowner, dinner parties, rogue characters, a love interest and grand estates and this story does include them. I loved the gentle flow as I was taken around the streets, grounds and lanes meeting the locals along the way.
This story is about Mrs Bates but also about many other things that make up the community in which she resides. The stories intertwine and meander giving a great read.
If you like a gentle story set in days gone past then you really do need to read this one. It was an absolute joy and pleasure to read and left me eagerly awaiting the next in the planned series. Mrs Bates of Highbury is a book I would absolutely recommend.
About the Author:
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.
You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com or find her on Facebook
For the duration of the blog tour, Allie Cresswell has five hard copies of Game Show and five hard copies of Tiger in a Cage, all signed, available for £5 plus p & p to UK addresses. If you are interested then please get in touch.
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