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Synopsis: Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, Yes! And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia is the reason why!
His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?
Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?
Sally Smith O’Rourke’s Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is the second book in her The Man Who Loved Jane Austen series. I haven’t read the first book, which takes the name of her series, and although I didn’t feel lost reading Yours Affectionately, I do feel I would have been better prepared had I read it. At the time I wasn’t aware it was a second book and it wasn’t until I read it that I felt certain events were missing. I do recommend you read the first book and then proceed to Yours Affectionately.
Yours Affectionately picks up where The Man Who Loved Jane Austen left off. Eliza Knight has made contact with Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms in Virginia and brought him the letters written by Jane Austen herself. Eliza’s arrival coincides with the famous Rose ball held annually at Pemberley Farms and she’s happy to immerse herself in a recreation of the Regency period. She dances the night away with Darcy and believes him when he announces, he time traveled to Austen’s time. Meanwhile in the 19th century, we get glimpses of Austen’s life shortly after Darcy’s departure. He made an impression on her and she still thinks of him. When her brother’s groom, Simmons, announces he wants to go to America to work for Darcy she tells him the truth. Armed with a package and a mission, Simmons manages to time travel to our modern period. What ensues is a lovely tale about love and trust featuring one of our most beloved heroes and author.
Character development is strong. There’s a cast of secondary characters that are needed, but they don’t distract from the plot. They actually enhance it. At Pemberley Farms, Eliza gets to know Darcy through his employees and they help clear up any misunderstandings. As for Eliza, I have a feeling O’Rourke developed her more in The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, but I still feel we got to know her. She’s an artist and isn’t afraid to voice her concerns. On the other hand, I feel as if we got two different Darcy’s; the first being, the one who shows a different face to Austen and the one who is most comfortable at Pemberley. As for Austen herself, she plays a minor role, but O’Rourke developed her enough for non Austenites to appreciate her.
Yours Affectionately is well written and the language used for the 19th century scenes doesn’t sound modern. I liked how O’Rourke used modern words and had Austen speak them, but always as an afterthought and explanation. I particularly enjoyed Austen thinking about our modern world and couldn’t help but imagine her in it. O’Rourke also does a superb job detailing the relationship between Austen and Darcy. Eliza at one point is jealous of that relationship, but it is clear that Austen is never far from Darcy’s mind and vice versa. I liked how she incorporated the past to run alongside the present. For example, Austen writing a letter to Darcy that turns out was resealed twice because his business card at one point was with the letter. That could only have happened in Austen’s time and yet in the present an Austen expert brings this situation to light and questions it.
I debated with the rating between a three and a four. In the end, I decided on a four because of the emotions O’Rourke evokes when Simmons in our modern world and the confusion he has towards this century. Also due to the romance between Darcy and Eliza and how they grew to trust to each other.
If you’re an Austenite, I recommended Sally Smith O’Rourke’s Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen. Just be sure to read the first book before delving into this one. You’ll see Darcy a little differently and can’t help but think, “what if.”
Praise for Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
O’Rourke creates a world that defies cynicism and demands suspension of disbelief – even in this age of doubt and hyper-realism. Sheer escapism at its best. Clever, charming and affectionate.-Jocelyn Bury
…the reader must tenaciously read on rather than put the book down to satisfy their hunger for the story to resolve, which it does in characteristically Jane Austen fashion. -Erin Murdock
In Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, author Sally Smith O’Rourke creates a compelling story that investigates what and who might have inspired Jane Austen. While the story line is certainly far-fetched, it is a truly unique idea, one that captivated this reader until the very last page.-Meg Massey
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With her late husband, author Michael O’Rourke (aka F.M. O’Rourke) Smith O’Rourke owned and operated a medical advertising company where she used her diverse talents to produce and co-write teaching films and videos. Working not only with major medical and surgical manufacturing companies but also network television. These endeavors ultimately led to a collaboration on two feature films (direct to video) and three published novels.
The wife and husband writing team of Sally Smith and Michael O’Rourke, being long-time fans of Jane Austen, wrote The Man Who Loved Jane Austen released by Kensington Books in 2006. Kensington followed that very successful effort with The Maidenstone Lighthouse in 2007 and Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage in 2009, both also collaborative projects by Smith and O’Rourke. Published after her partner and spouse’s untimely death in 2001, the publisher chose not to use the names Michael O’Rourke and Sally Smith (as the manuscripts were presented), releasing all three books under Sally Smith O’Rourke.
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is Sally Smith O’Rourke’s first solo novel.