Last weekend, I was called to my duty as an Avid Reader and forced to rescue a book from a shelf where I believe it would’ve been underappreciated and unloved. The story goes like this…
I was walking through the Dollar Store with my mother. She was in pursuit of masking tape or paintbrushes or something of that sort, and I was slowly following behind her. I found myself in the stationary aisle, looking at the pens and pads of paper and notebooks, and I finally came to the end of the aisle where there was a large shelf full of colouring books and picture books.
I stopped in front of this shelf and began to peruse the various volumes it contained. There were your classic children’s colouring books, but also those adult colouring books that have recently become so popular. There were children’s picture books, but as I investigated the shelf, I noticed that there were also Young Adult books. I hadn’t heard of any of them personally, but they were proper, quite lengthy novels. Then, as my eyes flitted over the different titles and covers, I alighted on two words I recognized: Jane Austen. I moved closer to the shelf and picked up the book that contained Miss Austen’s name. The Three Colonel’s: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men by Jack Caldwell.
I picked up the book and stared at it in confusion. What was a book based on the novels of Jane Austen doing on a shelf in the Dollar Store? I turned it over, still puzzled, thinking there had to be some mistake, and sure enough the synopsis described that the novel was in fact a sort of sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I thought that the book must’ve been left in the story by mistake, but I noticed that in the bottom right-hand corner there was a little sticker proclaiming that the book was…$3! I opened up the book, and it did in fact have pages in it, with lots of words. It was a real novel and it was only $3. I was still very confused by the whole turn of events.
If you’ve read my blog for some time, you’ll know that I’m not the biggest Jane Austen fan. I find her writing style to be too clipped and calculated, to lack sentimentality and emotion. But, I am a student of literature, and I of course respect and appreciate Jane Austen’s contributions to the written word. I love her stories and many of her characters, and so, as I held Caldwell’s novel in my hand, a novel that continued the life of many of these beloved characters, I knew that I had no choice. I had to buy the novel, rescue it from a shelf where it would either never be properly seen or never be rightfully appreciated. It was, after all, only $3…hardly an investment to ensure that Jane Austen’s characters would have a comfortable home.
I took the book home with me. Although I was intending to start reading a new Dickens novel, I figured that I could get through Caldwell’s story more quickly, and so I began it immediately.
I am pleased to say that I am thoroughly enjoying the story so far, and I’m about halfway through it! It’s actually quite lovely…it has its steamy moments, which really surprised me, but for the most part, it does follow Austen’s tradition and portrays many simple, romantic scenes between some surprising characters. Caldwell decides to focus on, arguably, the lesser-liked characters of Pride and Prejudice – Carole Bingley and Anne de Bourgh are his central focus. Rather than being disappointed by this, however, I am actually enjoying getting to know Caroline and Anne. I do prefer Anne because I still feel that Caroline is a bit too ruthless for me, but both women are presented in a respectable light and it is cute and endearing to get to read about their feelings and love stories. I’m enjoying this novel very much…and for $3, I couldn’t have asked for more!
I’ll leave you now with a few nice quotes from the novel. A proper review of it will come once I’m finished.
“‘You are too good, sir.’ … ‘I am a poor fool saved by your love.’”
“It was clear that for her he would do anything.”
“firmly secure in her practice of thinking only of the past as it gave her pleasure”
“‘I shall speak, and then my fate shall be in your hands.’”
– The Three Colonels, Jack Caldwell
Girl with a Green Heart