For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novelby Shannon Winslow
The 1967 potboiler perhaps is a pioneer of chick-lit as it follows a would-be artist who abandons her dream of painting for a successful husband, two kids, and a nice Manhattan home only to discover her perfect life is driving her nuts. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. See more details below
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The 1967 potboiler perhaps is a pioneer of chick-lit as it follows a would-be artist who abandons her dream of painting for a successful husband, two kids, and a nice Manhattan home only to discover her perfect life is driving her nuts. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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As Shannon Winslow’s latest novel For Myself Alone opens, we discover that two things have recently happened to twenty-one year old Josephine Walker: her uncle has willed her a significant inheritance and there has been some unnamed-but-clearly-scandalous “trouble in Bath.” With this hint of mystery, Winslow sets off on her charming tale. Upon their beloved uncle’s death, the Walker family seems set for life: Josephine has twenty thousand pounds and her brothers inherit an estate and a good living. But Josephine is incredibly uncomfortable with her status as a newly-minted heiress. After a few years of delightful anonymity on the marriage mart in her home county of Hampshire, she is suddenly in the sights of the local fortune-hunters. In a moment of frustration, Josephine declares: ”I want to be valued for myself alone, not for my bank balance.” And so she and her parents set themselves up in Bath. But Josephine swears them to secrecy about her inheritance. She is determined to attract a husband who will love her regardless of her money. All seems well as she meets a handsome young man. But the “trouble in Bath” that we discovered at the beginning of the novel is waiting for her. Though author Shannon Winslow’s previous work The Darcys of Pemberley is an Austen sequel, with For Myself Alone she was interested in doing something different. A note at the beginning reveals that: When I began this novel, my goal was to create, not a sequel or a tie-in this time, but a new story — one I imagined Miss Austen might have written next. I didn’t have in mind any direct reference to her work, only a nod to her style. I applaud Ms. Winslow for how well she achieves this. For Myself Alone is witty and well-paced. I smiled devilishly into my fan at some of the dialogue and laughed out loud at some of the silly thoughts that run through Josephine’s head. I imagine that this is exactly how Jane Austen would have written a first-person narrative. I was hesitant at first to resign myself only to one point of view in the story, but it works very well here. (Minus a number of times I wanted to shake Josephine into seeing what was right in front of her face.) It is pretty clear from the beginning who Josephine is supposed to end up with. But Winslow does an excellent job of keeping us waiting until Jo herself realizes it, giving little hints and morsels here and there. Along the way, Winslow manages also to give a full picture of family drama and friendships, and, of course, Jane Austen’s favorite theme of the influence of money. Winslow writes all of this with a keen ear for the cadences of Austen’s language. Her prose is a joy to read.
I bought this book because I enjoyed Shannon Winslow's other novel ("The Darcys of Pemberley") so much. In my opinion, this one's even better. I got caught up in the heroine's story right away, and I couldn't rest until I was sure everything turned out well for her (and it did!). The characters were engaging, and I thought the story line was unique and interesting. I love Ms. Winslow's writing style so much that I plan to read whatever she writes next. I highly recommend this book, for Jane Austen fans or for anybody who enjoys historical romance.
My review originally appeared on Austenprose: Gossip. It has the power to create larger than life reputations, but also has the ability to destroy said reputations. Within Jane Austen’s novels we’ve seen just what gossip can do; Mr. Darcy’s reputation and person are vilified by Wickham, John Thorpe gossips about the true size of Catherine Morland’s dowry to a displeased General Tilney, and Captain Wentworth hears gossip that shares the good tidings of Anne Elliot’s non-existent engagement to her cousin William. It should come as no surprise then that Austen fan fiction writer Shannon Winslow should write an Austen-inspired novel that focuses on just what can happen with gossip! For Myself Alone takes place in Bath and Hampshire in the 1800’s. Winslow tells the story of Josephine Walker, the recent recipient of a large inheritance totaling almost twenty-thousand pounds, an unimaginably large sum at the time. While Josephine is grateful for the inheritance from her Uncle, she also is concerned that people will now view her as a walking pile of money instead of the sweet and caring girl that she normally is. What’s more, the suitors that come courting her can’t be trusted, and the only man in her life that she feels she can trust is Arthur, who also unfortunately happens to be the betrothed of her best friend, Agnes. Engaged herself, Josephine begins to lose trust in her own fiancé, Richard, after she overhears a conversation between him and his father. With all of these events happening to poor Josephine, how will she cope? Will she be able to find comfort in Arthur despite their inability to be together? What will she do with all of that money? When I reviewed Winslow’s first novel The Darcys of Pemberley, I put in my review that Winslow was sure to be around the JAFF world for a while. For Myself Alone cements that thought in my opinion. Winslow has a fantastic ability to not only create a story that could be a long lost Austen novel, but to write it with the same wit and vivacity we’d expect from Austen herself. Told in a completely first person narrative (which may I add is refreshing in this genre) it opened up the doors to allow us into the mind of our heroine. We know exactly what she is feeling throughout, affording us the opportunity to really connect with her. I find the more you can connect with your heroine/hero the bigger the enjoyment of the work becomes. The prologue of the novel did a fabulous job at grabbing my attention and making me eager to learn about Josephine’s story and why she was the sudden target of the local gossips. While the beginning of the novel moved slightly slowly, events in Bath pick up at heart-racing fast pace that doesn’t stop until the last page! For those who want a fresh story with a definite Austen flair, For Myself Alone is the way to go. I’m so glad that Winslow is back with another great work. I can’t wait to see what she can do in the JAFF world!