Saturday, February 10, 2024

"A Very Bookish Romance" by Abigayle Claire, Sarah Holman, J. Grace Pennington, Kellyn Roth, and Kate Willis

I am a little sad that this is the last "A Very Bookish Holiday" title.  The series of Christian novellas has been a lot of fun, and has introduced me to some authors I might not have tried otherwise.

Like in the previous installments of this series, each novella in this collection retells a classic book, but also has the characters in the novella reading that classic and thinking about how it relates to their own situation.  Which sounds awfully meta, but I promise it works in a charming and cute way.  After all, what avid reader hasn't seen parallels between something in their life and a beloved book?  That's part of what makes reading so much fun!

Of the five novellas here, my favorites were "The Artist of Hearthstone Cottage" by Kellyn Roth and "Daisy's Heart" by Abigayle Claire.  Interestingly, those were the two that are based on books I am not very, very familiar with!

Here's a little bit about each novella:

"Daisy's Heart" by Abigayle Claire is inspired by Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, which is a book I actively avoid because I can't stand spiders.  However, I did read it as a kid, so I do remember vaguely what it is about.  But this story stands beautifully on its own -- it's about a young woman, Daisy, whose parents have died, leaving her to care for the family farm and her younger, developmentally challenged brother.  She wants to save the farm, she wants to raise her brother well and give him a good home, and she wants to maybe have time to think about going out with the kind handyman who helps her out from time to time... but she's under an awful lot of pressure.  Learning to accept help, even ask for it, is a big part of Daisy's character arc.  I happen to be writing a book that revolves around that theme myself, so this story resonated really strongly with me.

"A String of Paper Hearts" by Sarah Holman is inspired by Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  It's about a college girl who can't stand this loud and socially awkward guy, but ends up having to spend a lot of time with mutual friends and coming to realize maybe she is way too prone to judging people on appearances.  This was a good story, but I was a bit taken aback by the repeated denunciations of anyone who likes any movie version of Austen's book that is NOT the one released in 1995.  First of all, I thought Austenites had grown past that particular nonsense a few years ago, and second of all, it was jarringly at odds with the novella's theme of not judging people for having different opinions or likes and dislikes from your own.

"Southeaster Lodge" by J. Grace Pennington is inspired by Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  This one was very cute, all about a girl who takes a job cleaning a family-owned resort that hides a few mysteries and secrets.  She falls for the owner's son, who manages the resort, but some poor choices in friends threaten their emerging relationship.  I really appreciated that there was no horrible John Thorpe character in this.

"The Artist of Hearthstone Cottage" by Kellyn Roth is inspired by The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, which I have never read.  This one is set in Britain in the 1940s, unlike all the others, which are set in the USA in the present day.  I love the 1940s as a setting, so that definitely endeared the story to me.  Plus, it felt very relatable -- its about a mom struggling to balance raising her toddler with being an artist.  Her husband died during WWII, and she has moved away from everywhere and everyone she knows so she can start life over again with her son.  She makes some new friends and finds a new love interest, but needs to come to terms with her past before she can truly move forward with life.

"Lore in Love" by Kate Willis is inspired by Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  In it, a teen gets a part-time job helping watch toddlers and babies at a Christian school/daycare.  Sometimes, she gets a ride to her job from one of her mom's friends, but sometimes, it's that friend's quiet teen son who gives her a lift.  A sweet relationship slowly develops between them.  This one also features a younger sibling with developmental challenges, and the friendship between those two siblings was really lovely.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: G.  Absolutely nothing here that you couldn't read aloud to a child.

This has been my fifth book read off my TBR shelves for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge (I didn't receive my copy until it was released in 2024, but I had pre-ordered it in 2023, so it still counts!) and my third for the #CozyWinterChristianFictionChallenge


  1. This does sound sweet! But ughhh, not more "P&P 95 Forever" purism //sad face//

    1. Katie, it's overall and cozy collection :-) The P&P95Forever stuff comes from a side character and only gets mentioned a couple times, so I just rolled my eyes at it and moved on. Annoying, but not enough so to ruin the story.

  2. That makes me so sad that we still can't move past the P&P95 thing! That novella would frustrate me for that reason alone.

    HOWEVER, the rest sound darling! I'm a huge Tenant of Wildfell Hall fan, brilliant novel, so that novella sounds fun and I love, love, love Northanger Abbey.

    I know it's past Valentine's Day now but I'll have to check out this collection.

    1. Carissa, yes. The whole P&P95Forever thing actually popped up on Instagram recently too. And ugh, just... ugh.

      I guess you could say that it is just one character in that novella who has strong P&P adaptation views, and it COULD be that the author did that to warn us that this character can be judgemental... except she really wasn't otherwise. Maybe it is meant to be a character flaw.

      I still need to read Wildfell Hall -- it's on my overflowing TBR shelves! And yeah, Northanger Abbey is a huge favorite for me.

      Word of warning: this collection will only be available for a limited time. So if you want to get it and read it, don't put it off for too long! Then the authors are free to release their novellas separately, which some have with their novellas from the previous books in this series, but I'm not sure all of them have. Just so you know!


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