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Thursday, 2 April 2015

Review: A Peculiar Connection by Jan Hahn

I'm pleased to welcome the blog tour for  'A Peculiar Connection' by Jan Hahn which stops here today for me to share my review of the book.

Book cover: A Peculiar Connection by Jan Hahn
Book Blurb:

Will a mysterious note from the past doom the love of Jane Austen’s most beloved couple?

A Peculiar Connection begins near the close of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Bent on preventing the engagement of her nephew to Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh declares that any union between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth would be “a sin against Heaven itself!”  Her shocking revelation, along with a cryptic message written over twenty years earlier, thrusts the couple into a whirlwind of heartbreak and disbelief.

Could a deserted mansion in Derbyshire or a small church hidden in the wood hold the key to solving the puzzle?  And why is Elizabeth inexplicably drawn to the portrait of three young boys in Pemberley’s gallery?

Determined to confirm or refute Lady Catherine’s accusation, Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to embark upon a twisted trail into bygone days and family secrets.  All the while, they must endure the exquisite torture of denying the indisputable desire that still hovers between them.

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I’ve only read one of Jan Hahn’s books so far, ‘An Arranged Marriage’, which is a book I quite often re-read when I want a hit of very romantic JAFF so I was pleased to be given the opportunity to read this book.

This is a 'Pride & Prejudice' variation that deviates rather late on in the story. The book opens with Lady Catherine de Bourgh confronting Elizabeth Bennet at Longbourn. Lady Catherine’s purpose is to obtain assurance from Lizzy that she will not marry Mr Darcy, but Lizzy will not agree to this. Hearing this, Lady Catherine produces a note, the original of which is held by a solicitor in London. The note completely changes Elizabeth’s world in an instant. It says that she is not the Bennets’ child; she was taken in by them very soon after birth. She instead has a connection to Darcy’s family and hence it will be impossible for them to marry.

Poor Elizabeth! Just as she has come to an understanding of herself, and realised that she loves Mr Darcy, it’s suddenly become impossible, and she will have to accustom herself to a bleak future without the hope of his love:
‘With Christmastide and Jane’s wedding to occupy our days, I could bury the longing that threatened to overwhelm me at times. And yet, without warning and at the most inopportune moments, a sudden image of Mr. Darcy’s beloved face would flash before me, and it was all I could do to retain control of my emotions.’
She also has to come to term with the shock of finding out that her family, the Bennets and Gardiners, are not her true family. It feels to Elizabeth like everything has been a lie, and she’s not sure what the truth is, not knowing the exact circumstances that led to her coming to live with the Bennets. Darcy is determined to discover everything and although she doesn’t want to allow herself to hope, in case she is let down again, reluctantly Elizabeth joins Darcy and his sister at Pemberley.

Like ‘An Arranged Marriage’ this book is from Elizabeth’s point of view which obviously helps us understand her feelings really well. She has fallen head over heels in love and it’s completely hopeless. She is despondent about that and really struggling with feelings towards Darcy that she feels are no longer appropriate. He, however, doesn’t appear at first to be facing the same struggle and while Elizabeth is relieved by that she also feels quite rejected. However, to the reader it’s clear, especially as time goes on that they are both facing the same struggle and Darcy a few times takes refuge in brooding and alcohol, which seemed a little dark for my perception of Darcy. Elizabeth is a bit slow on the uptake at times too, I wanted to give her a nudge towards the obvious a few times, but the poor girl is so despondent that I found it easy to forgive her, as seeing the truth would mean being hopeful, and she’s not ready to put herself out there yet. One other thing that I thought was a little out of character for Elizabeth was that she appeared to have lost her philosophical approach which is one of the things I always admired about her in ‘Pride & Prejudice’. Here she is very resentful towards Mr Bennet, and while it’s understandable, I think as a character she’s pretty tolerant and forgiving, so it seemed a little harsh, particularly as he had always been a loving father to her and his love for her was the reason he’d never told her the truth. However, every now and then Elizabeth was able to bring a little humour into the situation, and there were some really amusing passages, such as this conversation about what she should call Mr. Darcy going forward:
“What should I call you then? ‘Wills’ belongs to Georgiana, and I fear my tongue would trip over ‘Fitzwilliam’, so what else other than Mr. Darcy?”
“You are clever enough. I believe you will select a name for me.”
“I suppose there is always ‘Fitz’ or ‘Fitzy’.” I cut my eyes at him to see how he responded to my mockery.
“I call my cousin ‘Fitz’, and no one shall ever call me ‘Fitzy’, I forbid it.”
“Forbid? Oh my. Then that leaves but one option. I shall have to call you ‘Willie’.”
“Under no circumstances!”
Elizabeth and Darcy are both finding out information about the situation that led to Lizzy going to live with the Bennets two decades ago, and it was interesting to have a little speculation on the exact circumstances myself as they found out more facts (or failed to ask clarifying questions!). We are also taken on a trip to Ireland, which was interesting, as was the historical information pertaining to practising the Catholic religion in England/Ireland in that time.  I thought the language usage was mainly in keeping, though there was the odd American phrase here and there. There are no sex scenes in this novel, and often I find that an absence of sex scenes ramp up the romance to even sweeter levels and it is so in this case, especially when taking into account the despondency that precedes it.  I thoroughly enjoyed this highly romantic read and I’d recommend it. I’d rate this book at 4½ stars.

4.5 star read

*I received an e-ARC of this book from Meryton Press for a review as part of the blog tour.

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Picture of Author Jan Hahn
Author Bio:

Jan Hahn is fascinated by Jane Austen, 19th Century England, and true love. A storyteller since childhood, she's written skits and plays for local organizations and owned a business recording, writing and publishing oral histories. Jan is a member of JASNA and began writing novels based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in 2002.

Jan's first novel, An Arranged Marriage, won the award for Best Indie book of 2011 from Austen Prose. The Journey, published in 2012, was selected by Austenprose as one of the Top Five Austen Inspired Historical Novels of 2012, and it won the Favorite Pride and Prejudice Variation/Alternate Path of 2012 award from Austenesque. Her latest book, The Secret Betrothal, was published in 2014.  Jan is currently working on Stolen Past.

Jan has five children, seven grandchildren, and is a native Texan. In her dream world, she lives in England in a place called Pemberley.

Author Links: Facebook • Blog • Amazon Author Page • Goodreads Page

Since this is a blog tour there are other stops for you to enjoy and chances to win a copy of the book if you haven't already treated yourself, so here's the schedule:

Blog Tour Schedule

30 March: Review at Savvy Verse and Wit
31 March: Excerpt at Songs and Stories 
1 April: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club 
April: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
3 April: Author Interview at  The Little Munchkin Reader 
4 April: Review at Margie's Must Reads
5 April: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen 
7 April: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged 
8 April: Excerpt at Laughing with Lizzie 
9 April: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
10 April: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
12 April: Review at The Delighted Reader 
13 April: Excerpt & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews 
14 April: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
15 April: Review at Warmisunqu's Austen

18 comments:

  1. Your review, and the little tidbits that you reveal, just make this story seem more intriguing!

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    1. Thank you so much! I tried so hard to keep the review spoiler-free, which is not an easy task with this book, so the review ended up being somewhat mysterious!

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  2. Can't wait to read this one and see how they get out of this angsty predicament! I have a theory; remains to be seen if I'm right ;) Great review, Ceri!

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    1. Thank you Monica! Well I had no theory going in, but quite early on I had a theory, which proved to be correct, go me! You'll have to let me know if your theory is right :)

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  3. I was a little troubled about Elizabeth's grudge against her father too. Like you, I understood, but it didn't ring true for me. There were some very sweet romantic interludes and delightful passages. Nice review, Ceri!

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    1. Thank you Sophia! I enjoyed your review too.

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  4. Thank you for interesting review. Indeed, without revealing much, your review shows how many heartthrobbing struggles with feelings of our favourite characters we will be able to read about in this new book and what an interesting read it will be:) You confirmed my dear wish to read this book!

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    1. Thank you Oloore! Yes, my heart went out to them both, poor things! I didn't want to put the book down. If you haven't already bought this book many of the stops on the blog tour have giveaways attached, including a post here later this month.

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  5. Nice review which makes me want to read this latest by Jan Hahn. I very much enjoyed the first person perspective in An Arranged Marriage, so this sounds like a good fit for me.

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    1. It's quite unusual to see a first person perspective in JAFF, but I agree with you, I enjoyed it in 'An Arranged Marriage' and I think I enjoyed it here even more, because you can get such a good appreciation of Elizabeth's feelings, which she's having to keep locked up inside.

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  6. Thank you, Ceri, for the lovely review and for participating in my blog tour. I look forward to being your guest on April 14.

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    1. Thank you Jan! I very much enjoyed reading the book and I'm looking forward to hosting you later in the month.

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  7. Enjoyed your review, Ceri. You did a good job of not writing spoilers! Yay, for you!

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  8. Great Review, can't wait to Read it. fawn@mycomspan.com, Fawn George

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  9. Ceri, your review entice me to put the book on top of my to-be-read list. I'm intrigued to find out why was Elizabeth given away to the Bennets to be raised and if there is truth to Lady Catherine's note. It's my wish that Darcy and Elizabeth get to be together as man and wife in the end.

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    1. The circumstances of the true story take a while to unravel, but there is a happy ending thankfully!

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