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RichardListener last won the day on July 13

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  1. Thoughts on the book overall (SPOILERS)

    I enjoyed the book, in the context that it was the third in a romance series, with the twist of being a homage to a beloved classic. The unavoidable pitfalls with doing this sort of thing: -- If you leave it to the reader to discover the similarities, many will say "Like, she totally ripped off Pride and Prejudice!" -- If you announce that it is a retelling at the outset, it will be subjected to a microscopic scrutiny, compared and contrasted (often unfavorably) with the original. Alas, with the Christian/Romance/Western genre, I am so far out of my depth that the fish have lights on their noses. So take my opinions with a big grain of salt. I did enjoy this book, though. Thank you, Lacy, and thank you, my high school English teacher, who forced me to read Austen instead of something about rocket ships.
  2. Ok. After the first read through (I usually skim, then "cherry pick" sections, then reread in entirety) here's what I see. (But have probably missed lots). First, "Cowboy Pride" is part of the "Wild Wyoming Hearts" series and, as such, this novel has to be consistent in the setting and characters with the series. It is constrained by having to be a romance that can be read between life's interruptions and is further limited by its length -- about half of Pride and Prejudice. Rather than reading it as an attempt to replicate P&P, I decided to view it as a sequel to "Marrying Miss Marshal", but spiced up with characters and plot lines that Austen fans would recognize and be amused by. Rob Darcy is the brother of marshal Danna Carpenter/O'Grady, the protagonist in "Marrying Miss Marshal". (Danna makes frequent appearances in this "Cowboy Pride", but has no counterpart in Pride and Prejudice.) He starts off by insulting Liza, as Fitzwilliam Darcy does to Lizzy in P&P, but Rob's faux pas is due to his inexperience and clumsiness with women, not by being an absolute prig with a silly name -- there, I've said it -- like FD is in the original. Of the two, I liked Rob Darcy right off, but Fitzwilliam Darcy needed those 1000+ pages to get into my good graces. These plot lines seem to be preserved in "Cowboy Pride" - The Rob Darcy + Liza Bennett (Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet) romance - The Nathan Bingley + Janie Bennett (Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet) romance - The George Wickham + Lydia Bennett (George Wickham and Lydia Bennet) elopement, and Darcy's intervention I'm really disappointed that the Charlotte Lucas settling for Mr. Collins in P&P was sidestepped entirely. Is this because that a non-romantic marriage would be a downer in a romance novel? I feel that, if included, it would validate the other romances -- showing that you don't have to take the first offer, or settle for second best. Ideas?
  3. Like heathera, I was interested in how Elizabeth's best friend Charlotte's marriage of convenience to cousin Mr. Collins in the original would be handled in "Cowboy Pride". It seems that in "Cowboy Pride" Charlotte is a new aquaintance, and Mr. Collins has been upgraded from an unctious twerp to a solid businessman, and a friend of the family. I'd be interested to know why the sub-plot of Elizabeth's friendship with Charlotte and Charlotte's decision to marry someone she didn't love was sidestepped. I always felt that Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice was given a raw deal by Austen's narrator: ("She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper."), when it seemed that she was a woman of pretty good emotional intelligence from the things she actually said and did in the novel. This was England's Regency period, after all, and Mrs. Bennet would naturally be worried sick about how her daughters would survive without an inheritance or independent income. In "Cowboy Pride" just about everyone is down on Mrs. Bennett, including her daughter, and I am finding her a much less likeable character. In both books, her fit of pique in refusing the use of the buggy to Jane/Janie was a real stopper. In the original, I put it down to a momentary lapse - a loss of temper in an otherwise loving family. In "Cowboy Pride" it seems to be right in character.
  4. Too excited!

    There is a scene in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where Indiana Jones looks into a pit and sags back, saying "Snakes -- why does it have to be snakes?" When I first learned of this choice for the Big Library Read, I confess I thought "Cowboys -- why does it have to be cowboys?". I am not a Romance reader, and as far as Westerns are concerned the only Louis L'Amour book I own is "Last of the Breed". And in that book, you cheer for the Indian. Also, living here on the Left Coast, I couldn't find any Lacy Williams books, new or used, on either the Romance or Western shelves. However, Big Library Read, for me, is about reading outside my comfort zone, so I dug in. With a little research I found that Lacy Williams has (1) a prodigious number of titles in print. (2) an incredibly focussed writing style, with a Lexile reading level to allow any recreational reader to follow the plot, (3) a website that is super-friendly with goodies and freebies for her fans, and (4) a series of books ("The Smart Indie") that shares her experiences and advice for aspiring independent author/publishers. So far I've read "Once Upon a Cowboy" from her website, made it about half way through "Cowboy Pride" and am in serious danger of becoming a fan.
  5. Re-tellings and re-imaginings

    Here are my three favorite retellings, from a SciFi and Fantasy buff: 1. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. "Inferno" I first read Dorothy L Sayers translation of Dante's Inferno in high school, and loved the her version's attempt to combine readability with the rhyming pattern in the original Italian. The SF writing team of Niven and Pournelle have retold the story as a fantasy novel. N&P's "Inferno" is a modern day (well, 1970's, anyway) version - same old Hell, but it is amazing how modern foibles fit nicely into all the same slots. Told with humor and insight, and gives you pause for thought about how things we don't ordinarily regard as particularly evil can literally drop you into deep s**t in the afterlife. It also gives the reader pause, and a new take on what the purpose of Hell is, in a universe of a loving Creator. 2. Orson Scott Card. "Enchantment" As a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, Card's novel has a modern young scholar (and long distance runner) return to a place glimpsed in his childhood, where he rescues a sleeping princess and travels back with her to medieval Russia. A beautiful and robust love story - of both the romantic and parent-child kind. And it has a deliciously evil witch, who gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "a wicked sense of humor". 3. Sherry S. Tepper. "Beauty" Also based on the Sleeping Beauty tale, this novel sweeps through time, Earth and Faerie, rolling up most every fairy tale - Cinderella, Snow White, The Frog Prince - along the way. (The real fairy tales, that is, not the Disney silliness). This book is as beautiful as its title suggests, and is extremely well written and conceived -- what the TV/Netflix series "Once Upon a Time" would be if its writers were, like, about 100 times better than they actually are. In a similar vein, Lacy Williams has a "Cowboy Fairy Tales" series, the first of which, "Once Upon a Cowboy", is available free on joining her web community. While not retellings of anything in particular, these novels are set in the the modern day and include princesses, assassins, Navy SEALS and cowboys. With all those in there, what's not to like?
  6. For fans of Pride and Prejudice, I thought it might be interesting to detail similarities and differences between Lacy William's retelling and the original. From reading the book sample preview earlier, I'd noticed that the character's names generally correspond, but with different diminutives (Elizabeth/Lizzy=Liza), and Austen's "Bennet" surname has been changed to the more comfortable modern "Bennett" spelling. Janie (Jane in P&P), is refused the use of the buggy by her mother to visit the Bingleys. She has to ride her horse, as in the original, but, rather than getting sick from a chill, she has finds herself in a much more serious accident. (The sample ended here, but I'm betting on a rescue, and a stay-over, based on how Austen's novel proceeds.) I am looking forward to things that other readers spot. If there is a difference, perhaps we can speculate why the narrative was changed in the retelling.