Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Review: Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers

Darcy has invited the Bennets and the Bingleys to spend the Christmastide’s festive days at Pemberley.  But as he and Elizabeth journey to their estate to join the gathered families, a blizzard blankets the English countryside.  The Darcys find themselves stranded at a small inn while Pemberley is inundated with refugees seeking shelter from the storm.

Without her brother’s strong presence, Georgiana Darcy tries desperately to manage the chaos surrounding the arrival of six invited guests and eleven unscheduled visitors.  But bitter feuds, old jealousies and intimate secrets quickly rise to the surface. Has Lady Catherine returned to Pemberley for forgiveness or revenge? Will the manipulative Caroline Bingley find a soul mate? Shall Kitty Bennet and Georgiana know happiness?

Written in Regency style and including Austen’s romantic entanglements and sardonic humor, Christmas at Pemberley places Jane Austen’s most beloved characters in an exciting yuletide story that speaks to the love, the family spirit and the generosity that remain as the heart of Christmas.

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Each year during Christmastime I enjoy reading a holiday-themed novel.  Last year I loved A Darcy Christmas, and I also recommend The Christmas Chronicles by Tim Slover and Kringle by Tony Abbott. These titles have been a fun addition to my holiday merrymaking.

This year my yuletide novel of choice is Christmas at Pemberley by Regina Jeffers.  In this follow-up to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we find all the main characters as they usher in the holiday season at Pemberley and the surrounding area.  Elizabeth Darcy is pregnant again, after suffering two miscarriages in the past.  As any woman would be in her situation, she dearly wants a healthy child for herself and her husband.  As they make their way home to celebrate Christmas, they are delayed by treacherous wintery weather and have a few adventures of their own.  Back at Pemberley, Darcy’s sister Georgiana and others weather some drama as well.  And upon the Darcys’ return, even more drama ensues.

Christmas at Pemberley was an absolute delight.  There are moments of the aforementioned drama, a bit of political intrigue, romance and some truly inspirational episodes.  I thoroughly enjoyed the manner in which Jeffers wove the multiple storylines, offering cliffhanger after cliffhanger between each narrative (and there are at least 4) within the novel. At no point during my reading did I become bored or disinterested.  She definitely kept my attention with her writing, which captured the Regency style very well, while adding suspense and multiple points of focus.

As a Christian I also appreciated Jeffers’ inclusion of spiritual topics within her story.  Elizabeth almost struggles with her faith at times, wondering how she must have fallen short in God’s eyes due to her multiple miscarriages.  It’s sad that anyone would feel that God would withhold motherhood in this manner, but I think it’s a realistic doubt that some may have during times such as that.  Regina was brave to broach such a subject, in my opinion.  I also enjoyed how she employed some of the rituals of the church within the story as well. I wouldn’t consider Christmas at Pemberley a “Christian novel” per se, but there are many elements to it that I think Christians would find enjoyable, even beyond the obvious Christmas connection.

For those who are looking for romantic Regency tales without all the tawdry content, Christmas at Pemberley might be a good fit for you as well.  Jeffers doesn’t shy away from sexual tension, but she keeps it fairly clean by today’s standards.  The steamiest stuff is kept between married couples, and even those details are limited.  There are a few passionate kisses between unmarrieds, but those moments are reasonable and fit the period and genre.

Although she is the author of several titles of Austenesque fiction, Regina Jeffers is a new author for me.  After reading Christmas at Pemberley, I look forward to taking in more of her work.  This holiday story was absolutely enjoyable, with surprises at every turn and a treat for the holiday season. Add it to your Christmas list today!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Secret Santa: My Book Blogger Package Arrived!

This is my third year participating in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap. Once again, I had a great time putting together a package for my Secret Santee, and it was a delight to receive a big package from my Secret Santa yesterday.

This year my Secret Santa was Heather from The Capricious Reader.  She's from my home state of North Carolina, which was a thrill!  I was born in Greensboro and have also lived in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Kernersville.  My parents still reside outside of Charlotte and my in-laws have homes in Fayetteville, New Bern and Atlantic Beach.  Gotta love the Tar Heel State!

Heather was really generous and sent me not one, not two, but three books! She chose Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow, Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz and Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken.  Brightly Woven has been on my Goodreads wishlist for quite a while, but I'm unfamiliar with the other two.  So I have two undiscovered treasures in hand, apparently!  Thanks so much for your generosity, Heather.  I hope your Secret Santa sends you fun surprises and granted wishes, too!

Thanks to the organizers over at the Book Blogger Holiday swap.  This is always so much fun every year. If you're a book blogger who would like to participate next year, be sure to stop by the program's website each November to get information about signing up.  It's alot of fun for all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reflecting on the Season: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

I don't know about you, but there have been many years when the Christmas season has gone by in such a rush, I've hardly had a chance to enjoy it.  This year I'm committing to take some time each day to reflect on the true meaning of the Season-- the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Starting today, I'm going to be reading Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, edited by Nancy Guthrie.  Within this slim book are 22 short readings for Advent, written by many well known and respected authors, both historical and contemporary.  Some of these wise individuals include:

  • Martin Luther
  • Charles Spurgeon
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • St. Augustine
  • John Piper
  • Randy Alcorn
  • Francis Schaeffer
  • R.C. Sproul
  • Tim Keller
  • Joni Eareckson Tada

I encourage you to seek out this or similar means of reflecting on the Season this year, before time gets away from us.  Holiday shopping, yummy baked goods, decorations and Christmas carols are a wonderful blessing this time of year.  But let's not forget how it all got here in the first place, and how everything continues to hold together through Him.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  

Colossians 1:15-17


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