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Friday, January 1, 2010

The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard

I write this review from a different sort of perspective. Books by Linore Rose Burkard are often touted as, “Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen soul.” Now if you love Jane Austen, chances are you’ve already discovered Linore and her wonderful books based on that glowing recommendation. But I must confess. It scared me away. I don’t hate Jane Austen. In fact, I love the Regency time period with its elegant fashions, English countryside, and London balls. I quite enjoy any movie based on a Jane Austen novel. And, I do think the books are worth reading for educational purposes. But…I feel like I’m slogging through the formal convoluted language every time I pick one up. I must admit, I have yet to make it to the end of a Jane Austen novel.

For me, pleasure reading they are not.

So it was with some trepidation that began the advanced copy of The Country House Courtship sent to me for this review. By the time I reached the second chapter, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief because I found myself enjoying the book enormously. The language rings of Jane Austen, yet is much friendlier to the modern reader. The omniscient viewpoint made me feel like I was sitting with a friend as they told me a tale and proved a pleasant change from the norm.

I’ve been steeping myself in Christian novels for the last two years. There are a lot of new stylistic rules Christian writers are supposed to follow. For the most part these rules are good, but after reading 50 or so, they become too predictable. By adopting the style of Jane Austen, Linore Rose Burkard offers a refreshing new voice to the CBA market.

Of course this also brings to mind the fact that I was recently taught at a novelist retreat that contemporary authors should never read the classics. Writing has continued developing and growing and has become stronger with time. Reading the classics will cause you to write in a way that is obsolete. Clearly the teacher who said this took an extreme attitude (and trust me, as a former literature instructor I gave him an earful), but he also had a point.

In The Country House Courtship Linore combines the best elements of Regency fiction with the best elements of contemporary writing to delightful effect. I would call these books “Jane Austen Lite,” and I mean that in the best sort of way. There is no slogging or trudging through this book. Readers can enjoy a wonderful Regency style novel that is friendly to a modern day audience.

Beatrice Forsythe is certain her older sister’s marriage to a wealthy member of the ton will secure her own prosperous future. She dreams of going to London for her first season and meeting a handsome man of good fortune. She insists that marriage should be undertaken for practical considerations until she runs into an old acquaintance, Mr. Peter O’Brien.

At age twelve, Beatrice had impetuously promised to marry Mr. O’Brien after her sister broke his heart. Now, she is faced with him once again at Mr. Mornay’s country manor, where he is applying to be the vicar. While she finds him undeniably attractive and honorable, she is more drawn to the fashionable and wealthy Mr. Barton, a new neighbor to Mr. Mornay. He is the sort of man she has always desired to wed.

The author provides plenty of interesting twists and turns as Beatrice must learn what truly matters in life. The book provides insight into human nature and relationships, as well as into man’s relationship with God.

So of course, I highly recommend this book to Jane Austen fans. However, I think anyone who enjoys romance or historical fiction will love this book as well. Great job, Linore. You’ve won me over to this style.

What about the rest of you? Do you love Jane Austen or does she scare you away? Do you have a favorite Jane Austen book or movie?


  1. Well, Dina, now that you've enjoyed this book, you HAVE to go back and read the first two in the series, Before the Season Ends and The House in Grosvenor Square. These books are REALLY, REALLY good, two of my favorite books. I think you will love them, too. :-) And no, I don't get paid to say these things! I'm just a very big fan!

  2. Thanks for the review, Dina! I am anxious to read this book. I do love Regency (or Regency lite!) and Linore is such a gifted writer. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Melanie and Susanne. Thanks for stopping by. I enjoy writing these reviews, and I'm glad to see others enjoying them too.

  4. As for Austen . . . I love her stuff, though not to the extent that some Austen-ites do. I read my first (P&P) in college, and promptly bought a complete works, read most of them, then stalled in EMMA when I kept hearing the lines from Clueless in my head at every turn, lol.

    I'm also a sucker for the ABA Regencies that, I know, are SO not accurate to social customs . . . still. I can't help it. I love 'em.

    So I really, really fell in love with Linore's stories when I first got Before the Season Ends. She managed to combine the genuine feel of the era (like Austen [obviously]) with the friendly, easy style of the ABA books, but with a sweet message of faith too. Ah, bliss. =)

  5. So therein lies my problem. I started with Emma. Recently I picked up Pride and Prejudice. It was okay, but I felt like I wasn't quite getting everything. Honestly, I feel like I understand Elizabethan English better. Weird, huh.