Good evening dear readers,
The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston was one of my 2016 favorite books, so you may imagine that I’ve been eager to review it and today I’m finally doing it!
In this Pride and Prejudice prequel, Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet with little Jane and Lizzy are traveling north to visit Mr. Bennet’s brother when Jane becomes sick. Because of that, they are forced to stop at a small town to allow Jane some time to recover, and while her father continues his trip to visit his dying brother, her uncle Gardiner stays behind to look after his nieces. This small town is none other than Lambton, and it is here that Mr. Gardiner will meet Miss Madeline Fairbanks, who will help him take care of Jane during her illness.
Mr. Gardiner’s relationship with Miss Fairbanks is an endearing and adorable one. He finds in her a mixture of the best attributes in Jane and Elizabeth, and discovers she is everything he could ever desire in a woman; she is caring, dedicated to her loved ones, gentil, but also smart, humble, and used to aid her father in his business, which shows him, she is the perfect partner in life for a tradesman.
Madeline Fairbanks’ impression of this young man from London is not the best at first, but soon she discovers he is everything a man ought to be, and it doesn’t take long for her to fall in love with him.
I loved seeing a younger version of Edward Gardiner. I am used to see him as a knowledgeable uncle and not as an insecure young man still trying to make is place in the world. I also liked seeing a younger version of aunt Gardiner who still blushes at some remarks made from a certain young man and finds herself accepting marriage advices from Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. Bennet!
But the Gardiners are not the only P&P characters in this book, by the contrary, and that was one of the aspects that surprised me the most. We will find small versions of Lizzy, Jane and Georgiana, teenagers Darcy, Bingley and Wickham along with their fathers, and even Lady Catherine and Anne make an appearance! Seeing younger versions of all these characters was absolutely amazing, it was a very different approach that could not have given me more joy while reading the book.
I also adored how Nicole Clarkston linked Pride & Prejudice’s story with this prequel, it is as if all details are in place and everything was thought through to make us feel we are reading the same book. I could easily imagine this book as a prologue of Pride and Prejudice itself,
Not only all characters are pretty much the same in temper and personality, but we get to see how and why they became the adults Austen developed. It is interesting to see, for example, how Madeline Gardiner’s influence had a great impact in Lizzy’s behaviour, how Darcy’s father’s contributed to his sense of duty and honor and how Darcy and Bingley’s friendship started.
But the character’s personality and background is not the only connection between Pride and Prejudice and The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, if in P&P the Gardiners are essential to bring Elizabeth and Darcy together, in The Courtship of Edward Gardiner it is Lizzy who contributes to the happiness of the older couple.The reversal of their roles was just an example of Nicole Clarkston’s ability to play with words and situations, and bring to life a story that is perfectly harmonised with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
The Courtship of Edward Gardiner is a light, endearing and funny book that is the perfect company for an afternoon in the couch. You will laugh to see Jane compared to her mother, to see Mrs. Bennet called a sensible woman and Lady Catherine accused of being afraid of 8 year old highwayman.
Additionaly, Nicole Clarkston’s writing is fluid, agreeable and enticing. She makes us feel among the characters, and we can clearly picture every scene and every dialogue in our head. I was not expecting to love this story because it is not a Darcy/Elizabeth romance, but the story is so good and so well written that it captured my heart and ended up being one of my favourite books from 2016.
The book ends with an epilogue that I loved as we see Mr. and Mrs. Darcy remembering everything that happened in Lambton during the courtship of Edward Gardiner.
Last year I read the book but this year I had the pleasure of hearing it’s audiobook version and was impressed with Stevie Zimmerman’s narration once again. I already had a very good opinion of her, but I was amazed with the wide variety of voices she can make in this book. She is able to replicate not only the voices of male and female characters without sounding fake, but also small children and teenagers. If there is any doubt she is a great narrator, The Courtship of Edward Gardiner is the best example to convince anyone otherwise. I highly recommend not only the ebook and print versions, but also the audiobook, which is the perfect company for your commutes.
You can find The Courtship of Edward Gardiner at:
Nicole Clarkston would like to offer my readers the chance to get to know these characters a little better by offering one ebook and one audiobook copy of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner.
To enter the giveaway comment this post and let us know if you would prefer the ebook or audiobook copy.
The giveaway is international and is open until Valentine’s Day.
Good Luck everyone!