Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Blog Tour and Giveaway - Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom - Review

Book cover: Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom
Today I'm happy to be featuring an author who has made the jump from the forums to publishing as the blog tour for Anniina Sjöblom's debut Pride & Prejudice-inspired novella, Thaw stops at Babblings of a Bookworm for my review of the story. Let's take a look at the blurb and then we will move on to my review. There's also an ebook giveaway :)

Book Description

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one false step can involve a lady in endless ruin. On a rainy November day in 1811, Miss Elizabeth Bennet finds herself wondering why no one ever bothered to tell her about this.

A few blithe steps on a morning walk, taken after a succession of rain, lead to unexpected events that irrevocably change the course of Elizabeth’s life, placing her fate in the hands of the haughty and conceited Mr. Darcy – the last man in the world she had ever thought to marry.

As long winter days slowly pass, she writes letters to her loved ones, trying to come to terms with her new role as a wife and the Mistress of Pemberley. But can she ever learn to love her husband? Will he overcome his arrogant notions of rank and circumstance?

And most importantly – will the shades of Pemberley ever recover from being thus polluted?


Book cover: Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom
My Review of Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom

When I first discovered the Austenesque genre I could read stories at a faster pace than my book budget would allow so I soon afterwards discovered stories published online on forums. Obviously you can find stories of varying quality on there, but one of my favourites that I discovered was Thaw. This was a story that I would recommend to others so I was thrilled when I heard that it was being published, as it meant that the story would be available to a wider audience than forum members. I also had a little bit of trepidation, as sometimes stories you love on a forum don't necessarily make the jump to a published work, as your expectations can be different.

Thaw is an epistolary novel, solely from Elizabeth Bennet's point of view, in the form of letters that she writes to her sister Jane and Aunt Gardiner. The story begins towards the beginning of the events of Pride & Prejudice, picking up when Mr Bingley and his party come to Netherfield. The story diverts off to another tangent before the Netherfield Ball with poor Elizabeth having an accident and managing to fall into a neighbour's pond and being rescued by a certain gentleman from Derbyshire. Gossip tears through the neighbourhood and owing to this, Mr Bennet and Mr Darcy agree that a marriage must take place. Elizabeth agrees to it for the sake of her sister Jane. 

Initially, she is pretty much devastated by the idea of a marriage:
Let other pens dwell on joy and happiness. I fear mine has quite lost the ability.
She has very low expectations of happiness. She heartily dislikes Mr Darcy (although at this point in canon her feelings are based on his initial slight of her, Wickham's report of Darcy's behaviour towards him, and what she perceives as his disdain for all of the neighbourhood but haven't yet reached the peak of her dislike, as no intervention had been made between Bingley and Jane) so it is no wonder that she doesn't foresee the possibility of any happiness in marriage: 
It is true, as you say, that my future husband cuts a fine figure when regarded from a distance (and if I am lucky, and his estate as grand as Miss Bingley describes it, that is how I most often hope to view him).
She doesn't even have the consolation of thinking that her husband will find her attractive:
If the man did not find me handsome enough to tempt him in a ballroom, I daresay finding me soaking wet and covered in mud did little to improve his opinion!
After a disastrous wedding night, where the groom began by telling his wife his poor opinion of her pedigree, family and friends and ends by hearing exactly how ungentlemanly his bride finds his behaviour there is a bit of an icy distance between the new Mr & Mrs Darcy. As we go through the winter and into the spring, will there be any chance of a Thaw?

For this type of story to be successful the author needs to capture the 'voice' of Elizabeth - as this story is entirely in her words and from her point of view, this is absolutely essential. It needs to sound like Elizabeth in order for the reader to believe that it could be her story, and I think the author has done this really well. There are arch comments, humour, and prosaic observations that I could believe were coming directly from Elizabeth. 

Although canon Elizabeth often keeps her own counsel and isn't always forthcoming with her innermost thoughts, I can believe that Elizabeth would write these letters to the two people she trusted most in the world. Much of what she kept secret in canon was to protect Jane's feelings in relation to Bingley, which isn't an issue in this story.

I enjoyed the day to day events that Elizabeth recounts and touches of teasing in the letters. I also liked the small mysteries in Elizabeth's letters, concerning such wide-ranging issues as gingerbread traps, dragonfly thieves, the true origin of a Parisian shawl and the mischief that can be caused by giving servants cast-off dresses that are too fetching.  This added both humour and charm to the story.

As time goes on Elizabeth gets better acquainted with her husband, his family and his household and begins to wonder whether she might have been mistaken in her initial assessment of his character.

I would say that, in common with many Pride & Prejudice variations, you would need to be at least a little familiar with the original story. Elizabeth in canon is blind to Darcy's true feelings for a very long time and she is just as blind here. At an early point in their acquaintance, when she dislikes him and is convinced that he dislikes her just as much, in actual fact, Austen tells us:
Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. - Pride & Prejudice
But here there is no narrator giving another point of view, just Elizabeth's perspective. There are clues that he likes her, but she clearly misses them. If you hadn't read P&P I think there is a danger that the reader might miss them too, despite the fact that her aunt and sister are clearly both of the opinion that Elizabeth's husband might be partial to her. The clues are there but they are subtle.

When I read Thaw on the forum I also read the story discussion thread, which had excerpts from Darcy's diary in it. These were hilarious, and shed light on the fact that the man was head over heels in love with his wife, but felt unable to tell her so. I couldn't see how these could be incorporated into the published story and they aren't, but I found that I missed them a little, just because they were so funny!

In summary, I would say that Thaw is a sweetly romantic and charming read, which does an excellent job of capturing the voice of my favourite romantic heroine. I'd recommend it as suitable for all Austenesque readers and I'd rate it as a 5 star read.

5 star read

Author Anniina Sjöblom
Author Biography

Anniina Sjöblom lives in the beautiful but cold Finland and works in university administration. She has an MA in History and enjoys a long-standing love affair with the works of Jane Austen.

Her previous works include titles such as Thirteen Days, Fix You and When He Comes Back, published in various online Austenesque forums under the pen name boogima. The new novella Thaw, expanded from the original version of the story first published online in 2011, is her first commercially published work.

When not writing, Anniina spends her time hanging out with friends, binge-watching TV dramas and re-reading her favourite books while the stack of new ones still waiting to be read piles higher on her nightstand. She can ride a unicycle, and once, after losing an unfortunate bet, ate a bowl of ice cream with green dish soap as dressing. She does not recommend attempting it to anyone.

Buy Links

Thaw is available to buy now in both paperback and kindle!



Book cover: Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom
Giveaway Time!

Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of THAW per blog tour stop. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on January 22. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Note Regarding Comments: I love to read your comments, but a few blog visitors have reported difficulties in commenting while using the Safari browser. If you are unable to comment, please try using another web browser, such as Google Chrome, or please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

Blog Tour Schedule

Blog Tour: Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom

* * *
If you don’t want to miss any of my future posts, please subscribe:


If you'd like to be friends on Goodreads then please invite me - just say that you visit my blog when it asks why you'd like to be friends with me.

57 comments:

  1. I remember the Darcy entries on the forum, too; they were awesome! Great review, and well-deserved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lucy! Tomorrow's blog tour stop at the Savvy Verse & Wit will resurrect a few of those diary entries -- Mr. Darcy is giving an interview to shed light on his views on what happened and has generously promised to share some of his diary markings as a part of it. :)

      Delete
    2. The Darcy diary entries were sooo funny. I'm sorry they couldn't make it in to the final book but I really didn't see how it would be possible.

      Delete
  2. Darcy just had to tell her his opinions of her family - for a man of supposed intelligence he does say the wrong thing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That he does indeed - but then, if he didn't, it might make for a considerably shorter story. :) Thanks for stopping by, Vesper!

      Delete
    2. Yes. Although it's nice that he wants to be honest, on the other hand, sometimes you should keep things to yourself!

      Delete
  3. So glad to hear the letters captured Elizabeth’s voice and humor, as well as those hints that Darcy does like her, even if she’s clearly not getting it quite yet. Thanks for the review Ceri and congrats Anniina!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought Anniia did such a great job of writing in Elizabeth's voice, it's one of the things that stood out for me with this book.

      Delete
  4. Thank you, Ceri, for the lovely review -- so happy to be stopping here as a part of the blog tour!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was so happy to host you, Anniina, Thaw is a story that I've read many times! I'm so pleased you made the jump to publishing.

      Delete
  5. More i read about this book, more im anticipating it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I hope you'll enjoy it! Good luck in the giveaway! :)

      Delete
    2. I hope you enjoy it when you read it.

      Delete
  6. The wedding night? Oh Darcy! Not a great start I think.
    I’m only sorry I didn’t see this earlier with the Darcy comments but I dare say I will cope with the published version ��
    In fact I am really looking forward to reading Elizabeth’s letters and trying to spot the clues :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bless him, it was a bad beginning wasn't it!

      Delete
  7. Thank you, Glynis! A few snippets of Darcy's (rather spoofy) diary markings will be published tomorrow as a part of his character interview at the Savvy Verse & Wit. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went to that blog and read it and now wish I could have read any other diary entries he made. Interesting...Bend it like Beckham?...gig hangs....LOL

      Delete
    2. :D I'm glad you liked them, Sheila!

      Delete
    3. I really enjoyed the post over at Savvy Verse and Wit :)

      Delete
  8. So many good things about this book! Congrats on your debut!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love Pride and Prejudice fanfic -- Poor Mr. Darcy has put about 10,000 feet in his mouth at this point. :) Thanks for sharing your review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :D At least! Thanks for stopping by & good luck in the giveaway!

      Delete
    2. That's true, Jen. He so often has a disastrous Hunsford proposal in one form or another.

      Delete
  10. I haven't read this story before - I'm glad it is published now, thanks for the recommendation and giveaway chance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by, Agnes, and good luck in the giveaway! :)

      Delete
    2. Hi Agnes. This is why I'm so happy to see forum favourites being published, it gives them the chance of reaching a wider audience

      Delete
  11. I like reading letters and diaries JAFF, it feels like you are snooping at the door and who doesn't like that! :-)

    Looking forward to reading your book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Danielle I hope you'll like it! I like reading diaries and epistolaries, too -- while it's fiction, there's a guilty pleasure of sorts in getting to sneak a peek at someone else's correspondence. :D

      Delete
    2. That's very true, Danielle. Books being written in the first person really brings you close to the character.

      Delete
  12. Sadly, I've only read a few forum stories, but its always neat to see them published for more to see.
    I do love the forced marriage element and to have Elizabeth's correspondence to show how it works out for them.

    Great review, Ceri!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sophia Rose, & good luck in the giveaway!

      Delete
    2. When I first discovered JAFF I enjoyed reading forum stories, because the book budget only spreads so far, but I now have such a backlog that I don't have time for much forum reading any more, which is a shame, as there are some fantastic stories that aren't available published.

      Delete
  13. Hi Ceri,

    I must admit to loving this wonder story that I read last year.
    I heartily recommend it to all lovers of JAFF and those seeking a romantic interlude with ODC!!
    I’m delighted to see your 5🌟 rating and can only concur worth your opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Mary, so glad to hear you enjoyed it!!

      Delete
    2. Thanks Mary! So glad you agreed with me on this one :)

      Delete
  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book with us. It sounds like one I would enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you - and good luck in the giveaway! :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks Darcybennett, I hope you enjoy it when you read it.

      Delete
  15. Replies
    1. Thank you, Sheila, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

      Delete
    2. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too, Sheila!

      Delete
  16. Thanks for the great review, Ceri! I haven't read Thaw on the forum, but I can't wait to read it now. Congrats, Anniina, and have a great blog tour. Best wishes to you both and Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Joana, and happy new year to you as well! :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks Joana. I really would recommend this read, it's charming. I hope you enjoy it if you do read it.

      Delete
  17. Oh, now I wish I'd read this online first! I'd love to have read Darcy's diary entries along with Elizabeth's letters. I really enjoyed reading this story as told solely by Elizabeth and you're so right in what you say, Ceri. The author has captured her tone perfectly. Even though there's no DHP, Darcy still gets his "Hunsford moment" when he makes his ill-judged speech on their wedding night. Elizabeth, being Elizabeth, doesn't take that lying down!

    Please don't enter my name in the giveaway hat, as I've already tead this fantastic piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anji, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book! And pssst, if you want to read some of the diary markings Ceri mentioned in the review, you can stop by at the Savvy Verse & Wit -blog -- the Thaw blog tour stopped there yesterday and a part of the old diary markings were included in my guest post there. :)

      Delete
    2. Darcy's diary entries mainly revolve around how much he likes his wife. There are hints in the story though.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it too, Anji.

      Delete
  18. Thank you for your review .It is helpful glimpse int the story. I am looking forward to read the story and know Elizabeth slowly grows go love her husband. Best part of P & P stories. (Actually am looking for their verbal war about her connections and his ungentlemanly behavior Thank you for the chance to win a copy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by & good luck in the giveaway! :)

      Delete
    2. it's such a sweet story, Buturot. I hope you enjoy it :)

      Delete
  19. I remember reading Darcy's diary entries as well. They were quite the hoot although there were some modern languages used, it made it even more humorous.

    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They really were pretty modern at times, and altogether quite out there. :D Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the giveaway!

      Delete
    2. That's very true, Dung, the modern language of the forum 'Darcy diary' entries made them all the more funny.

      Delete