Friday, 3 August 2018

What's Past is Prologue by Ann Galvia - Blog Tour - Review Post and Giveaway

Blog Tour: What's Past is Prologue by Ann GalviaToday the blog tour for Ann Galvia's newest Pride & Prejudice variation/sequel, What's Past is Prologue stops by here for my review.  There is also a generous giveaway that you can take part in! I'll start by sharing the blurb with you and them move on to what I thought of the book.

Book cover: What's Past is Prologue by Ann GalviaBook Description

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

My Review

Book Cover: Side by Side, Apart by Ann Galvia
I have had the pleasure of reading Ann's work previously; I read Side by Side, Apart, a Pride & Prejudice sequel which I thought it was fantastic, so I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read her latest work, What's Past is Prologue. This is also a Pride & Prejudice sequel, but while Side by Side, Apart kept the events of P&P as Austen wrote them, What's Past is Prologue has a variation that happens during the timeline of the initial book. Here, heartbroken Jane Bennet was the character who travelled to Derbyshire with the Gardiners, where she bumped into Mr Darcy, as her sister did in canon. Mr Darcy takes the opportunity to right his previous wrongs and re-introduces her to Mr Bingley. When Jane gets the letter from Longbourn that Lydia has run away, she makes Mr Bingley aware of the contents. He shares this news with Darcy, who tracks down the errant couple and arranges their marriage, including financing it, as in P&P.

Some time later, Mr Bennet finds out that a man unconnected with their family has saved his daughter from ruin. His honour means that he has to find out why, and this wrings a confession out of Darcy of his love for Elizabeth. Darcy's honour means that he has to make a second offer of marriage to Elizabeth. Her choices are to marry a man that she is grateful to, but doesn't love, as she hasn't gone through the emotional journey that she made in canon, or put her father in a position where he feels obliged to pay back the money, which he estimates will take more than a decade. It is one thing to turn down the marriage offer of the ridiculous Mr Collins, to ward off future penury that is only potential, and another thing to turn down a marriage offer to a man she doesn't find ridiculous and no longer dislikes, knowing that her refusal would involve the family at Longbourn into debt for years. Lizzy is also flattered and reassured by Darcy's continuing love for her.
Although Charlotte claimed happiness in marriage was a matter of chance, Elizabeth thought the gamble was negated when there was a thoughtful, respectful affection between the principals. Darcy's admiration was the sort on which a girl could reasonably stake her future well-being.
Thus, they marry, and this book picks up the story a mere week after the wedding. Unfortunately for them, the couple have been summoned to Rosings, where flooding has ruined the crops of Lady Catherine's tenants, an issue that she needs Darcy to help resolve. There Elizabeth has to deal with the unwelcoming behaviour of her family by marriage, while transitioning to become a wife to a man that she esteems but doesn't love, and deal with her worries of his passion fading, and their marriage becoming one like the unhappy union that her parents have.
He would someday forget the force of passion that propelled him into this unfavourable alliance.  
Someday it would all be gone. 
What would become of her then? Elizabeth had allowed herself to enjoy being the object of his fascination, but she dreaded becoming the object of his regret.
Full Book Cover: What's Past is Prologue by Ann Galvia
I am not quite sure what to make of this book. I thought that Elizabeth's fears were understandable, because the courtship was short and mostly spent apart, meaning that she underestimated how much lust Mr Darcy felt for her! Once married, she became aware of this and one comment from him set her off down the road of fearing that lust was all he felt, and she worries that she has repeated her mother's fate of marrying a man who would come to regret it. I find this understandable, but she bases this entire, obsessive fear on one comment even though Mr Darcy spends time with her, talks with her, confides in her, listens to her opinion and is generally an extremely satisfactory and respectful husband. I really feel that Lizzy would be likely to have more sense than this and balance the evidence of his behaviour against her fears.

I kept waiting for something to happen, some twist or huge obstacle, but the obstacles are unchanged pretty much from beginning to end. Some members of Darcy's family are rude, Lizzy deals with it well, things happen and you expect there will be a misunderstanding or an argument, but Lizzy will tell Darcy all about it and nothing bad occurs. You wonder if there will be a chasm between them due to this being essentially a forced marriage scenario, but the couple get on surprisingly well. There is a side theme of the education of women, but it's just something that happens, there is no real conflict arising from this. There is quite a bit of page time given to Lizzy's perception of the relationships between Fitzwilliam family members, past and present, but I am not sure what the purpose of this was, unless it was to build a picture of them and emphasise that people are not all good/bad, and can be kind and thoughtful in one area but selfish in another.

I know that a lot of readers like to know whether a book contains sex scenes and this one doesn't really have explicit sex scenes but there are quite a few bedroom scenes and times when Lizzy is mulling over sex and intimacy in general. Events were treated with realism rather than glossed over, and I felt like some of the scenes went into the 'too much information' zone. I don't need to know about her being sticky from Darcy's bodily fluids or her menstruation (although I would have liked to know what women in those time used in the absence of the sanitary products available today, and this question wasn't answered). It felt a little intrusive, and for me, there were too many occasions when I felt this way.

One thing I liked was how much time we got with Elizabeth and Darcy together. They have a lot of conversations and I was surprised to see how comfortable they seemed with each other, given that it was not a two-sided marriage of love and that their marriage and intimacy was so new.

We get to see more of some of the characters we know from P&P - both Georgiana Darcy and Kitty Bennet have accompanied Darcy and Elizabeth into Kent, and of course we see more of Anne de Bourgh. Her character was a bit of an enigma, as was Georgiana's. I am not sure I got to know either character that well. Kitty was one of the highlights of the book for me, I very much enjoyed her character, who provided some plain speaking and humour.

I found the style of writing generally enjoyable, although there were a few times I found it difficult to follow the thread of conversations. Although there wasn't a lot of drama or conflict I never felt that the book dragged, my interest was kept throughout. I find this author's approach to the characters refreshingly low-key - some authors exaggerate to have Lady Catherine like a villain from a melodrama rather than just a self-important, rude woman, and Elizabeth petulantly dealing with her fate, whereas Austen's Elizabeth is quite philosophical, and is quite accepting of things she cannot change, such as her parents' approach to dealing with her sisters, for example. This Elizabeth accepts her marriage to Darcy in the same way that I would expect canon Lizzy to. I didn't love this book as much as Ann Galvia's previous book, but I would certainly add any future work of hers to my TBR list. I'd rate this as a 3 star read.

3 star read

Buy Links

This book is available to buy now in both ebook and paperback! Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

About the Author

Author Ann Galvia
Ann started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Connect with Ann at the following places: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

Giveaway Time!

Book Cover: What's Past is Prologue by Ann Galvia
Meryton Press is giving away 8 ebooks of What's Past is Prologue. Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.

Blog Tour Schedule

Here is the schedule of the other stops on the blog tour. I hope you will visit them all!

Blog Tour: What's Past is Prologue by Ann Galvia

August 1 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
August 2 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
August 3 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
August 5 / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway
August 6 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway
August 8 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
August 9 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway
August 10 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway
August 11 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway
August 12 / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
August 13 / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

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  1. Sounds like Kitty has come into her own now that Lydia is gone

    1. Hi Vesper. Yes, I like to see Kitty out of Lydia's shadow.

  2. Congrats on your new release. Definitely an interesting plot.

    1. Thanks Dung. Although I've seen forced marriage scenarios before, this one is refreshing in that Elizabeth is not resentful about it. Although it wasn't much of a choice, she is quite philosophical about it, and isn't bearing a grudge.

  3. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  4. I loved Side by Side, Apart and its amazing cover. Thanks for this informative review Ceri and for hosting today. Special thanks to our author Ann Galvia and the publisher for the generous give-a-way. I do appreciate the opportunity to participate in the drawing as I don't Face or Tweet. That was very kind. Blessings on the success of this work.

    1. I did too, Jeanne!

      It's a great giveaway isn't it. Good luck :)

  5. Thanks for a wonderful and thorough review Ceri. The premise is interesting, and all the points you made would be important for me as well. It seems like a pretty angsty story.
    Great cover. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Thanks KateB! I didn't find it as angsty as I thought it might be :)

  6. I love Ann Galvia's work because it has an edge to it that virtually no other writer in JAFF attempts. There's a realism not intended to be shocking, but rather, intended to tell the story without vagaries on the factual situation. It's the unvarnished truth in the characters' eyes. Sure, it's no fluffy romance, but I admire the author for daring to go down that path. You certainly mentioned it in E's worries, Ceri. The continuation of any theme brings out angst, and I love angst! Thanks, and best wishes on the rest of the blog tour, Ann!

    1. Hi Suzan. I agree with you that this author has a very real edge to her writing. Things aren't glossed over or romanticised.

  7. Thanks for the review, Ceri. Despite your reservations, it sounds an intriguing story and like Suzan, Imlove me some (or even a lot) of angst!

    1. Wretched virtual keyboard! "I love" me some angst!

    2. If my virtual keyboard can't write gibberish it won't write at all Anji! I hope you enjoy this story when you read it.

  8. I have always enjoyed Ann Galvia's style and approach, with all the angst and realism and unique perspective she brings into play. The evolving relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth is worth any angst of the bumpy road to happiness! Congratulations on publishing this!

    1. Hi there Agnes. Did you read this as it was being published online? I don't tend to read on the forums these days but I think that it gives you additional insight on a story, especially if you read or join in with the discussion posts.

  9. I heartily agree with Agnes. In this story, we see the evolution of "the girl" to a wife. There is not a lot of outright contention, but we get a realistic version of how Lizzy deals with this situation she has found herself in. It's not the perfect Lizzy that we typically find in fanfic, but one that is struggling a bit to find her place in her new world. There is a lot of food for thought and I find Ann's books can take more than one reading to really appreciate. This is one I will read again and again.

    1. Hi Gail. I thought that Lizzy settled in to her role much more smoothly than I would have expected, aside from her fears.

      You make a good point here, in that some books take more than one reading to fully appreciate. Generally I only read the book once before I review it, as in this case.

  10. Thanks for the honest review! I appreciate the chance to win a copy.

  11. Thanks for taking the time to review and share your thoughts, Ceri.

  12. Thank you for offering a balanced and honest review, Ceri. After reading the blurb, I couldn't understand why Elizabeth married Darcy if not for love. But now I know what really set off the story and came to realise that it is something like a forced marriage scenario.

    1. Hi Luthien. It takes quite a while to understand the circumstances of the marriage, as it's not explained until about a quarter of the way in. I don't feel that it was a spoiler to say though!

  13. Great review Ceri! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book.

  14. Thanks for sharing your review, i look forward to reading this one! :)

  15. Ceri,
    I must admit that I admire your honesty in writing your review.
    I understand why some of the book was a little 'too informative' but I appreciate your frank appraisal of the story.
    Food for thought!

  16. Carole in Canada7 August 2018 at 02:49

    I enjoyed your honest review and feelings regarding this book. I too loved 'Side by Side Apart'. This one too appears to look at their relationship from a realistic lens. I look forward to reading it!

    1. Hi Carole! Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it.

  17. Thank you, Ceri, for your review. I learned a lot from it. Ann seems to have taken Austen's Elizabeth and written an in-depth examination of her nature. Marrying a man you don't love is hard enough, but if he made a careless remark that made you fear he might leave you, I can see what an impression that might make. I would expect Elizabeth to take a long time to overcome that fear. Sounds like an interesting journey for our favorite couple enfolds in this book. Here's wishing you much success, Ann!

    1. Hi Jan, thanks for stopping by. I can definitely see how a throwaway comment could be something that would leave an impression, especially if it's something that you have cause to fear. However, I felt that she got fixated on this one thing very quickly, and other things Elizabeth faced such as the clear disapproval felt by Darcy's family or the change in Charlotte's behaviour towards her, that I would have expected her to be worried or upset about didn't seem to faze her very much at all.