My husband cringes every time I tell him I’ve won a book. Because well, obviously just buying them isn’t bad enough. And then add into it the fact that I review books and well, danger ensues.
So, this week, I have two ARCs – Advanced Reader Copies. And I just love these things… nothing sweeter than reading a book months before it arrives in stores, right?
The first of these two books is Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen. Previously published under the name of Pemberley Remembered, it is a sequel of sorts to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Maggie Joyce, a 22-year old American, arrives in London in the summer of 1947. Although the war has been over for two years, the British are still recovering from six long years of war. Despite continued rationing and evidence of the destruction caused by German bombs, Maggie, who grew up in a Pennsylvania coal town, is delighted to be living in one of the great capitals of the world. After weeks of touring the sights in London, Maggie visits Montclair, an 18th Century Georgian country house located in the Peak District of Derbyshire, because she has been told that the former residents of the mansion, William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison, were the inspiration for the characters of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride & Prejudice, and that Montclair is the novel’s Pemberley.
During her visit to the nearby Village of Crofton, Maggie meets Beth and Jack Crowell, both of whom have ties to the Lacey family and Montclair, and who know if the legends associated with the house and Fitzwilliam Darcy are true. Maggie is befriended by the Crowells, and they share stories of the real people who inspired the Darcys, the Bennet sisters, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, and many of the other memorable characters portrayed in Pride and Prejudice. As their friendship matures, the Crowells reveal the devastating impact that the First World War had on their families—effects that are still being felt 30 years later.
While learning about the romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Maggie falls in love with Rob McAllister, an American who served as a navigator on a B-17 heavy bomber and who flew 30 missions over Nazi Germany. The effects of seeing planes being shot down or burst into flames is seared into his memory, and Rob’s wartime experiences have left him with a reluctance to make any decision that affects anyone other than himself, and that reluctance has consequences for his relationship with Maggie,. This might provide an opportunity for Michael Crowell, who comes out of nowhere and completely throws her off balance. Does he have a chance with Maggie?
Now, this book intimidated me a bit as I know zero about Pride and Prejudice. However, I’m a little over one hundred pages into it and am enjoying it thoroughly. Will update again once I’ve finished it. Searching for Pemberley will be released from Sourcebooks in December 2009.
The second ARC I won in a Twitter contest via St. Martin’s Press. It’s a dark fiction novel called The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom. I love a good, dark novel, so I am very anxious to get into this one.
It was expecting them.
Conrad and Joanna Harrison, a young couple from Los Angeles, attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife….
Thus begins a story of possession, sexual obsession, and, ultimately, murder, as a centuries-old crime is reenacted in the present, turning Conrad and Joanna’s American dream into a relentless nightmare.
An extraordinary marriage of supernatural thrills and exquisite psychological suspense, The Birthing House marks the debut of a writer whose first novel is a terrifying tour de force.
The Birthing House is scheduled for release from St. Martin’s Press this Tuesday, August 4, 2009. It’s secured its place to be read next.
You can find Mary Lydon Simonsen here and her books at all major retailers.
You can find Christopher Ransom here and his books at all major retailers.
I look forward to sharing my reviews with you all soon!
~The Crazy Book Lady with a bunch o’free books