When I started reading Then Comes Winter I didn’t know what to expect. I had never read an anthology and I don’t usually read short stories, so this book was a true surprise for me.
Reading it turned out to be perfect for this time of the year. It felt like unwrapping a present that contained a box full “Papillottes”. I don’t know if you are familiar with Papillottes, but they are chocolates that are only sold during Christmas season in France, and I truly love them!
There is not one single year when I do not find a way to have them in my house. You may wonder what is so special about them. Well, apart from being delicious, these chocolates, sold in one single package, all have different flavours. So when you take one to eat, you never know what you are going to get. It is always a surprise. And I like the anticipation that comes from not knowing what I will find.
That was precisely what happened with Then Comes Winter. Every new story was a surprise. I didn’t know if I was going to find a modernization or a regency story, if it would be funny or serious, if it was about Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, or any other Jane Austen book. Can you think of anything better for a JAFF reader?
This book is pure perfection for any Jane Austen affectionate and it changed my perspective on anthologies. I now believe they are one of the best presents you can get anyone! This anthology contains 11 short stories based on several works of Jane Austen and it is wonderful because not only it is full of surprises, but also because it is incredibly diversified.
I hope to install your curiosity with the brief resumes of each short story:
Holiday Mix Tape by Beau North and Brooke West
This is a modernisation of Persuasion, my second favourite Austen book. I think the adaption was very interesting touching some social stigmas that I was not expecting. I should know better after reading Longbourn’s Songbird 🙂
Apart from Wentworth’s skin colour, I think you will find curious to read the name of Sophie’s dog 🙂
Another interest aspect in this book was the way it was organized, as a mix tape with the song titles giving hints on each chapter. It’s a detail I truly enjoyed 🙂
Becoming Fanny by Melanie Stanford
I loved the beginning of this story because it started with a truth universally acknowledged: Everyone wants to be Elizabeth Bennet. Well…at least I do.
The book tells us a story about a girl who desperately wants to be just like Elizabeth Bennet: social, witty and adventurous, but turns out to be Fanny Price, who in her opinion is weak and boring. The character evolves into accepting who she is and that everyone has their own qualities, which is a moral I found interesting.
It is a modernization of Mansfield Park, which is not one of my favourite books from Jane Austen, but the story was wonderfully written, and it got my attention from the beginning. It was funny and romantic, and it gave me a lot of pleasure to read it.
A Man Whom I Can Really Love by Natalie Richards
This story was a modernization of Sense and Sensibility, which I love.
Col. Brandon is one of my favourite heroes from Austen, and even though I identify myself with the romantic, emotional and spontaneous Marianne, I always through she was too childish, exaggerated and not worthy of Col. Brandon.
This short story gave someone with my opinion the best scenario possible 🙂 We get to see how Marianne started to love Col. Brandon, and how she realised how foolish and immature she was. We see her grow into a mature person who will be worthy of such a man.
All this happens while she lies in a hospital bed. Learning who Willoughby really is, Marianne rushes out of her house in a storm, ends up having a car accident and is saved by Col. Brandon. She is in a comatose state when she realises that even though she cannot communicate, she is able to hear everything everyone is saying. This is how she starts understanding she was very wrong about Elinor, Willoughby and Col. Brandon. This is how she starts to fall in love with him, and I really liked reading this happen 🙂
The Unexpected Gift by Erin Lopez
This is a regency story based on Pride and Prejudice. It starts after the Netherfield ball, with Mr. Darcy in London struggling, and failing, to forget Elizabeth Bennet. His subconscious is stronger than him, and he ends up buying, without even realising it, a gift that was meant for Elizabeth. When Georgiana understands this, she works as Darcy’s conscience, asking the questions he dare not ask himself: Is society’s opinion more important than his own happiness?
Georgiana will play the cupid in this story that didn’t quite finish. I was sad to reach the end of the story without and ending to the plot, so I am eagerly waiting for another short story to continue this one.
North for the New Year by Sophia Rose
Northanger Abbey is one of my least favourite books from Jane Austen, but Sophia Rose was able to create a modernisation of it that made me want to re-read the original.
Cate is a young, naïve girl from a big family in a small town that travels with her aunt and uncle North for the New Year. She is passionate about Ghost Hunters across America and believes she has found a friend in Bella who also enjoys the show. We all know she learns the hard way not to trust people so easily, but events were transported into the modern era in a creative way. I particularly liked the ending of the story with the big family gathering, it felt a magnificent ending for Chris 🙂
Winter’s Awakening by Anngela Schroeder
This is a regency story based on Pride and Prejudice that I do hope to see developed into a full length book!
Anngela Shroeder found an interesting way to have Darcy learn Elizabeth’s true opinion of him and also, for Elizabeth to find the truth about Wickham and Darcy. This happened in 2 distinct moments, but I think both of them were cleverly created.
In this story Elizabeth and Jane travel with the Gardiners to Lambton after the Netherfield Ball, and obviously their paths will cross with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley who are at Pemberley at the time.
I found the writing witty, and love some of the replies Elizabeth gave to Miss Bingley, namely: “It is lucky then, that you are not the mistress of such a grand estate, as I presume she would be prepared at all times for unexpected events”. Isn’t this sentence wonderful?
I thought the Darcy tradition of chopping Christmas trees a curious fact, and of course, could not resist the image of Mr. Darcy cutting the tree himself. As Elizabeth realized at the time “he is magnificent” while doing it. In this book Mr. Darcy was sexy, charming, and irresistible.
I also liked the fact that in this story Mr. Darcy had an older brother who died at a young age. It was very interesting and I never read that before.
This story was full romance and adventure and I do hope to see a full length book coming out of it because I wanted to be with these characters in this story for much too long.
Delivery Boy by Suzan Lauder
This story is a modernization of Pride and Prejudice and places our characters in a scenario I would never have thought about.
Suzan Lauder really surprised me with this story! Elizabeth is a restaurant owner and Darcy appears at her door being mixed up with the “Delivery Boy”.
The story is full of chemistry and misunderstandings keeping us glued to it. The Bennet sisters appeared in a creative and different way, the dialogues with Elvis are incredibly funny and the proposal at the end of the story was just beautiful.
I should also mention that I wouldn’t mind finding a XXI century Mr. Darcy with a beard, I wouldn’t mind at all 😉 This was just a detail on the book, but many of these small details made me enjoy it immensely.
This is a story that can be appreciated by everyone: JAFF readers, but also people who never read P&P.
The Food of Love by Maureen Lee
This is a regency short story that portrays Anne, a lonely girl infatuated by Roger Brun, a French refugee who is full of mystery and sophistication. Anne reminds us Maria Bertram when she organizes a play of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to be interpreted by herself, her relatives and of course Mr. Roger de Brun.
But is Mr. Roger de Brun the one who will truly conquer her heart? She admits to have loved him from the moment she saw him, but is this love at first sight going to last once she knows his true character?
I wasn’t so fond of Anne, and her improprieties, but I really liked James and felt terribly sorry for him. I kept reading just to see him find his happiness, and was overjoyed when it happened 🙂
Christmas Miracle on Oyster Bay by Denise Stout
This modernisation got me in the first sentence with the word bookstore! One of my long time dreams was to own a bookstore, so I was really happy to read a story where the main character owns one.
This story is similar to the movie “You’ve got mail” with Lissa, the bookstore owner being afraid of being put out of business by her competitors. There is however a chance for her, and Christmas is the perfect timing for grabbing it.
This is was a story that ended too fast for me, I would love to continue reading it and being in the company of Dr. Simon Macgregor. I liked the way their relationship evolved and would like to read more about these characters and their lives.
The Clock Doesn’t Lie by Linda Gonschior
This modernisation of Pride and Prejudice has a premise that I always like in a book. There is a snow storm that strands Danielle (Elizabeth) and Chris (Mr. Darcy) in a restaurant. There is an attraction between them and we start to wonder where their relationship is going, but there isn’t a true closure to the story, and I believe we will read more about these characters in a future story. Until then we will take comfort in the words “I’ll be here. Waiting for you”.
A Perfect Choice by Lory Lilian
This story is a regency variation of Pride and Prejudice that reminded me of the 1995 BBC adaptation.
Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy’s dog, Blackie, in the garden at Netherfield while she is there taking care of Jane. She plays with him and Mr. Darcy runs into them. This small detail will change everything. With the opportunity to talk to Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth will see a new side of him and establish a relationship with his dog that will alter the entire story.
In fact, it is the dog’s age that will make her more suspicious of Mr. Wickham’s story, and that will make her want to know Mr. Darcy’s side of the story. It is also because of Blackie that he will confide with her what happened to Georgiana, and as you may imagine, this will change everything in the story 🙂
This story was the perfect choice to close this book as it was a true romance we just want to continue reading over and over again.
I loved both Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s characters as well as the relationship they developed.
This was really the cherry on top of the cake and I have to praise the editor Christina Boyd, who did a wonderful job in the choice of stories.
I would recommend Then Comes Winter to any romance reader who wants to enjoy good stories. I believe this book was wonderfully written and edited to allow readers to take pleasure in it, to read it throughout the winter season. Not in an afternoon, or in one single day, but to slowly enjoy one story each day.
Then Comes Winter is available at:
Amazon.com – Then Comes Winter
Amazon.co.uk – Then Comes Winter
Amazon.fr – Then Comes Winter (English Edition)