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Friday, August 26, 2016

Mount Hope by Sarah Price | Guest Review from Sophia Rose!

You may recall Sophia Rose, author of the Austenesque story Second Chance at Sunset Beach, from last year's guest post in which she made the case for why Austen's minor characters are actually the best.
This year, she's dropping in to share her thoughts on the Austen-meets-Amish story, Mount Hope. Check it out below, and leave Sophia some love by sharing your thoughts in the comments!

Mount Hope by Sarah Price
#5 Amish Classics
Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Realms  |  Published: 9.6.16
Pages: 304  |  Rating: 4
Format: eARC  |  Source: Net Galley
Sellers: Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

When her father can no longer provide for his large family, Fanny Price is sent away from her small Amish community in Colorado to live with her aunt’s family in Mount Hope, Ohio. Fanny immediately feels out of place at the Bontrager farm but finds a friend in her aunt’s stepson, Elijah Bontrager. As time passes, Fanny begins to long for their friendship to blossom into something more, but her hopes are dashed when Elijah starts to court someone else. With her uncle pressuring her to marry a man who can take her off his hands, Fanny must learn to rely on God for her future.

A blend of the Amish life and Jane Austen's classic tale, Mansfield Park was a curiosity that I just could not pass up particularly after enjoying the earlier released Sense & Sensibility story in the same series.

While part of the Amish Classics series, each of these books are standalone sharing only the classic story retelling set in the Amish world.

As with the last book I read by this author, I felt that by placing the stories in the Amish world that there aren't as many problems cause by cultural and societal differences in the times. The Amish daily life, family, courtship, religion, and character parallel the England of two hundred years ago quite well. Being immersed in the Amish world was intriguing for me and it all felt authentic from the way the characters thought and acted to the settings described and the activities they engaged in.

The author stays pretty close to canon with her retellings in that the story line and characters are easily recognizable. I did note nuances that are different for each character and even small adjustments to the plot. I think the one change that was small, but it made a profound difference for me came near the very end. I will say that the change was to Elijah (the Edmund Bertram character) and raised him a bit in my eyes as a romance hero. Oh, don't get me wrong, he's still in want of smacking for his obliviousness, but as a young Amish man, his actions made a bit more sense and he came to his senses sooner.

Fanny is the sole narrator for this one and really the focal character so the reader gets the scenes colored with her perspective and opinion. Her thoughts could be harsh and even snitty when she was so jealous of her rival for Elijah. But I also felt some pity and understanding, too. Fanny is written as this young woman who has grown up knowing she was unwanted by her parents and treated like an inconvenient burden when she arrives to hear her two aunts fussing over who will get stuck with her. From childhood on, she learns that she must blend in, stay in the shadows, and make herself indispensable because of knowing she is unwanted and unloved by those who are her family. In fact, the author writes the uncle character to be more harsh with her and her fears are realized when she angers him and he lashes out in an unjust brutal way. Aunt Naomi (Norris) is even more hard and demanding of others and self-centered causing misery and pain for everyone around her particularly Fanny. Mary is the object of her jealousy and a little envy because how easy this other girl has it and that she captured Elijah's attention without effort. Fanny can't compete because she only knows how to give selflessly and be true to what is right even if it doesn't bring her the object of her desire.

Speaking of Mary...this particular story had me so curious to see certain characters as Amish. I just couldn't imagine Aunt Norris, Maria Bertram, Henry and Mary Crawford, and Tom Bertram as Amish. I know Amish are just ordinary people, too, but this group of characters were a stretch to imagine them living humble, simple lives and following strict religious rules. And as I read, I was intrigued by how the author managed them as Amish. They lack some of the sparkle and wit that showed up in the original tale, but the makeover to Amish folks was enough so that the lack didn't show up in the story.

The author did some snipping so that the plot and pace moved along at a better clip. I appreciated that she didn't feel she had to do a one to one scene ratio with the original. I don't think this story is lacking for her choice to ditch some of the extra and stick with the more prominent story threads.

In summary, this was picked up as a curiosity piece, but I ended up impressed again with the author's voice, her adaptation in this retelling, and her creative way to bring the Austen story and characters to life Amish-style. I would recommend this story to those who enjoy Austenesque stories, inspirational fiction, and sweet romance.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.

Discussion Questions: Does curiosity play a role when you choose your books? Do you like it when a variation or retelling places an Austen story in a different setting? What has been your favorite different setting of an Austenesque you’ve read so far?

About Sophia:
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Social Media Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sophia.rose.7587
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13418187.Sophia_Rose
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sophiarose1816/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiarose1816

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  1. I love Austen themes in different times and places, and Mansfield Park/Amish looks like a very interesting combination! Thanks for the review :)

    1. Me, too! And the more interesting the mash-up the better. :)


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