The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories is a ravishing collection of eight short stories full of charm, magic and wit. These fascinating stories are set in the same England as Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and the talented author skillfully portrays once again a nineteenth century England where faeries live among humans and where magic is present everywhere. In these spellbinding stories, Susanna Clarke explores the relationship between humans and faeries, showing the reader how the presence of faeries influences humans in different ways.

Here’s more about the eight stories:

The Ladies of Grace Adieu tells the story of three ladies who live in Grace Adieu and who deal with Jonathan Strange and his brother-in-law in their own way, using their magical powers to achieve what they want.

On Lickerish Hill is narrated in Suffolk dialect and is a wonderful retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story where a young wife seeks the help of a faerie creature so she can fulfill her husband’s demands.

Mrs Mabb deals with a young woman whose financé has been enchanted by the Faerie Queen. The young woman is determined to find her finacé who is being held prisoner in Mrs Mabb’s house, but there are many obstacles standing in her way.

The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and it’s one of my favorite stories. It is set in a village called Wall, which happens to be situated near the wall that separates the human world from Faerie. This funny story shows the reader how the Duke of Wellington accidentally enters the world of Faerie, nearly not surviving his visit.

Mr Simonelli or the Fairy Widower is a story about a clergyman who finds out that he is related to a powerful fairy lord. In order to rescue the community from his fairy cousin, the clergyman has to match his fairy wits against his relation.

Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby gives an account of the adventures of Tom (the fairy prince) and David (the Jewish doctor). This story particularly explores the relationship between humans and faeries.

Antickes and Frets is one of my favorite stories as it deals with the vengeful Mary, Queen of Scots, who tries to harm Queen Elizabeth by using magical embroidery.

John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner tells the story of John Uskglass (also known as the Raven King) who is harassed by a charcoal burner. This simple man seeks revenge against the Raven King by calling upon various saints.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories has all the right ingredients of great fairy tales – vengeful owls, dark woods, houses that never appear the same way twice and ladies who embroider terrible destinies. Our heroes and heroines have to overcome many obstacles and they have to be careful, as Faerie is a dangerous and wild place!

This wonderful collection is packed with vivid character portraits, wit and intelligence. In addition to that, the author’s original and beautiful writing style will enchant readers and will make them long for more. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories is certainly a remarkable collection of stories that will sweep you away and astound you. Be prepared to be taken on an unforgettable journey into the magical world of faeries where nothing is quite as it seems.

What I really liked about these stories was the fact that Susanna Clarke has managed to capture so many different relationships – the relationship between sisters, parents, friends, but also the relationship between humans and faeries. The characters are very charming and you can’t help but feel sympathetic to them. But what is probably the most attractive thing when it comes to this collection of stories is the author’s writing style. It’s so unique and masterful and it will remind you of Jane Austen’s prose as both are highly formal and witty. Furthermore, Susanna Clarke offers the reader a number of different viewpoints, thus, achieving a various number of effects that will most certainly appeal to readers who appreciate an eminent storytelling.  

Nonetheless, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories will not appeal to everyone, as not everyone will delight in this sort of genre. However, this collection of magical stories will certainly make Neil Gaiman fans and fantasy lovers happy, as they will adore Susanna Clarke’s distinctive and bewitching voice! As for my part, I must say that I just loved The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories and I can’t wait to read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in the near future. Susanna Clarke is now one of my favorite authors and I am looking forward to reading more works by this marvelous author! I have never read anything like this before and I think that’s why I found The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories so special and captivating!

If you want to find out more about Susanna Clarke and her work, please visit her website here. The site has many features, including a section where you can read the short story The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse (which I mentioned above). Click here if you want to read it and if you want to acquaint yourself with Susanna Clarke’s brilliant writing style.

Have you read Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell? If so, did you like it? Also, what is your favorite fantasy novel?

Note: I would like to thank Peter Miller from Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a copy of this engaging collection!

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Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith

Intimations of Austen is a fine collection of nine short stories inspired by Jane Austen’s novels. These follow-ups (and more) will appeal to Austen fans as well as to those who enjoy a romantic and heart-breaking story. Jane Greensmith offers the reader some fascinating what-if stories, sequels and prequels to Jane Austen’s works. These nine stories are little treasures that will delight Austen fans, as Jane Greensmith manages to capture Austen’s voice in an authentic way and to provide realistic insights into characters you will love (or love to hate).

Here’s more about the nine short stories:

Rainbow Around the Moon is inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion and it revolves around an admiral, his daughter and his grandchildren.

Three Sisters is inspired by the novels of Jane Austen and it deals with three sisters who all want to marry, but each one wants to marry for different reasons. As their wishes come true, one of them realizes that she hasn’t made the right decision.

The Last Baby is inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and it gives the reader a glimpse into Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet’s life and we can witness how both of them try to cope with the fact that they are alone now, with their daughters married and gone.

Bird of Paradise is inspired by Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. This short story centers around Fanny’s marriage to Edmund Bertram and the reader can witness how Fanny struggles with self-doubt and jealousy.

The Color of Love is inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and it shows us Mr. Darcy’s point of view regarding his various encounters with Elizabeth. Furthermore, we can witness how Darcy has the ability to see different colors in each person’s handwriting, each color having a special meaning.

Remember That We Are English is inspired by Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and it gives the reader an insight into Henry’s thoughts concerning his fear of his father and his love for Catherine.

When Fates Conspire is inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion and it tells us how Captain Frederick Wentworth finds out what brought him to Kellynch Hall again and why it is happening.

Heaven Can Wait is inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. This heart-warming story is my favorite one as it revolves around Jane Bennet’s marriage to Charles Bingley. The reader learns that Charles wasn’t the first man Jane ever loved. When she was fifteen, she had a suitor who wrote her poems.

All I Do is inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and it’s the longest short story and also one of my favorites. In this enjoyable little tale, Elizabeth and Darcy are not a married. Elizabeth has married someone else and you will delight in finding out why and what will happen to our favorite couple in the course of the story.

Intimations of Austen is a must-read for Austen fans and I am sure that readers will savor every page of this enchanting book. You will long for more and you will look forward to reading other works by Jane Greensmith, as the author has delivered nine creative and unforgettable stories that will linger in your mind for a long time.

I truly enjoyed Intimations of Austen, I was absorbed in Jane Greensmith’s poetic and beautiful writing, and I appreciated the fact that the author remained true to Austen’s characters. Overall, I was very pleased with this adorable little book, and for a while, I forgot everything around me and I was lost in a world full of romance. I just wished that Jane Greensmith’s stories were longer and not so short!

Note: I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of her charming book!