Lona Manning’s historical romance novel ‘A Contrary Wind’ is an excellent variation on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, and now stands as the first book in The Mansfield Trilogy.
‘A Contrary Wind’ is not new to this blog: the book was awarded a Gold Acorn review in January 2019, and won a silver award in the annual Golden Squirrel Awards in the same year.
That a second and third book have been written to follow and further develop Fanny’s story will delight all who have read the first instalment in the series.
This is a series that even devoted fans of Jane Austen will enjoy for its consistency with the language and style of Austen, even though the story does divert from that of Mansfield Park and follow its own original path.
What other reviewers have said about ‘A Contrary Wind’:
“…Excellent.. it’s a novel which certainly deserves a place on the bookshelves of a Jane Austen fan.” — Jane Austen Centre, Bath
“Manning …. emulates Austen’s writing style so well that she often seamlessly incorporates exact passages from the original into her narrative…. Many try to emulate Austen; not all succeed. Here, Manning triumphs.” —BlueInk Review Starred Review
“Highly recommend it. Extremely well written, extremely clever, the way she incorporated details from the original Mansfield Park.” — First Impressions podcast
“Brava to Lona Manning for her thoughtful twists and skillful execution in this variation. This story was in no way predictable and it kept me guessing almost until the end!…. – Meredith Esparza, Austenesque Reviews
“A Contrary Wind is well-written, keeping close to the style of Austen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I never lost interest and enjoyed the occasional comic relief.” — Historical Novel Society
Just like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this is a fun romp full of coincidence, disguise, trickery, and mistaken identity, albeit set on a tropical island in the 21st century.
Clepitt’s trademark humour infuses the narrative with warmth and a lighthearted tone that make the story very entertaining. The characters are, in keeping with Shakespeare’s play, delightful and a bit daft at the same time, which is how the story is actually made to work.
Given that the play already bent the gender roles and expectations back in the 1600s, it is a plot that easily lends itself to the incorporation of gay and lesbian characters and themes, achieved with the intelligence and wit that are characteristic of Clepitt’s writing.
There is sufficient homage to Shakespeare’s tale to make it recognizable, and sufficient originality and development of setting, plot and characters to make the work distinct as Clepitt’s own.
A most enjoyable read, ‘Or What You Will’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.
A tragic story, very well told.
When one sets out to retell an old, world famous story, it is essential that both the plot and the characters are crafted well enough to keep the reader engaged when they already know what’s going to go wrong and how things are going to work out. This first first title in a ‘Fractured Shakespeare’ series by D.K. Marley does not disappoint in its new delivery of the ages-old story of Hamlet.
‘Prince of Sorrows’ is a novelised retelling of the story of Hamlet with a much less ‘Anglicised’ feeling about it than Shakespeare’s play. In fact, this story feels so authentic and well-developed, it actually seems as though it’s more like the original story from which Shakespeare might have drawn his plot and characters. The characters are complex and intricately drawn, and bear names that are definitely more Scandinavian than those used by Shakespeare, yet many are not entirely dissimilar. The story is just as dramatic as the play itself, capturing the intrigue of politics within the castle of Elsinore and the rollercoaster of Amleth’s thoughts and feelings as the tension increases and the story reaches its climax.
Even as a reader who knows Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ extremely well, I enjoyed this adaptation of the play to prose. It’s a tragic story, very well told.
‘Prince of Sorrows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.
One of the finest Austen variations I have had the pleasure to read.
Having read and been delighted by a number of Austen variations on previous occasions, I was most interested in Manning’s adaptation of Mansfield Park. While not my favourite of Austen’s works, I was intrigued as to what might be done to the classic novel to provide genuinely viable alternate outcomes for the characters, and hopefully to make Fanny Price more interesting than I found her in the original classic.
Lona Manning’s recreation of Mansfield Park, its inhabitants and neighbours did not disappoint. I found myself drawn into Austen’s world where the Bertram family prosper and their cousin, Fanny, is stifled amongst them. From that point, Manning’s variation is interwoven seamlessly with the original until Austen’s story is found to be completely changed. More than once, I had to think back and remind myself of what had happened in the original text, until I gave up on doing that and simply allowed myself to be carried away by Manning’s narrative.
‘A Contrary Wind’ is well-written, keeping in step with the language and writing style used by Austen to tell her stories, while being mercifully less wordy about some of the characters’ more trifling thoughts and decisions than Mansfield Park itself.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and consider it to be one of the finest Austen variations I have had the pleasure to read.
‘A Contrary Wind’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.