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
A new reinvention of Pride and Prejudice – don’t expect the same story!
In this reinvention of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, the author has reworked the same characters and some elements of the story to create an original work based on Austen’s classic, but not consistent with it. I did enjoy some of these new twists and turns, and appreciated the author’s exploration of the stigma associated with epilepsy in the 18th century.
I found myself conflicted not by these alterations, but by the fact that the entire story is written in present tense, which gives the story the feeling of a running commentary rather than a developed storyline. While that may be a matter of personal preference, I didn’t feel as though the narration did justice to the storyline or the important ideas the author wanted to develop and explore.
I also found it odd that the characters kept on using each other’s names every time they spoke during a conversation, which felt stilted and quite redundant.
All in all, this was an enjoyable enough read, but probably better for a reader less fussy about writing style than I am.
Falling for Elizabeth Bennet has been awarded a Bronze 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.