I am delighted and also saddened to share my review for Dear Jane by Allie Cresswell. Delighted to read the next book in The Highbury Trilogy and saddened because it is the final book in the trilogy!
I have loved all three books and if you have not yet had a chance to read them and you like Austen’s Emma, then have a look at the book by Allie, she has used Emma as the inspiration behind them and has done such a wonderful and beautiful job. It has been my absolute pleasure to read each one.
Let’s have a look and see what Dear Jane is all about…
The final instalment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane recounts events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma; the formative childhood years of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.
Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate. Readers of Emma will be familiar with the conclusion of Jane and Frank’s story, but Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over its remainder.
I had been looking forward to reading the final instalment of the Highbury Trilogy, and now I have I do feel a little sad that it is over.
The Trilogy started with Mrs. Bates of Highbury, followed by The Other Mrs. Bates and finally ending with Dear Jane. Each story has takes on a main character and explores their family, friends and acquaintances. Dear Jane focuses on Jane Fairfax, she had a minor role in Emma and Allie Cresswell has made her into the major role, and I will add she has done it superbly.
Jane is taken in by the Campbells and is treated like a daughter with all the privileges that come with one whom lives within a certain class in society. Jane is to be a companion to the Campbell’s daughter Rowenna. Jane’s life is mapped out for her and she is well aware that at some point in the future she will have to make her own way in the world.
I absolutely loved this story, well let me be honest I have loved the whole trilogy. The author has captured the tone and writing style I like when I read the older classic lit books. I love to read about the “ladies”, I say ladies but often they are very far from lady-like with their barbed comments. there are several of these comments within the book as even though some see Jane as an equal, not everyone does.
Dear Jane is told over several years and follows Jane and Rowenna, I have to say that Jane has the patience of a saint as she coaxes Rowenna. But actually even though Rowenna was a bit of a pain, I also really liked her and got to understand her shyness and insecurities.
With society and the standing within society being so important with those in the upper echelons there is a focus on marriage, or rather how much will be brought into a marriage, both on a monetary and also positional platform. Marriage is a business deal rather than one of love, though there is love. Who falls in love and with whom is something I will let you discover for yourselves!
Romance, courtship and falling breathlessly and hopelessly in love is in equal measure with many a furtive glance, stifled giggles and the occasional swoon. Though things often appear to be simple it is not always the case. For some the road to marriage and love appears straightforward but those behind the scenes may have had a hand to stay the route, keeping the recipients unawares.
The story just oozes that old classic literature style. The mannerisms, dress and fashion, conversation style, society and etiquette all feel so right. Mix into this a storyline that has uncertainties, heartbreak, hope and trouble and that was me hooked and avidly reading.
I would say you could read each as a stand-alone, but you know what… Just go and get the whole trilogy and then just sit down, put your feet up and just relax and read.
This book, well, the whole trilogy gets a Highly Recommended from me.
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, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.
Dear Jane is her ninth novel.
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