Thursday, December 31, 2009

Who is your favorite Mr. Darcy?

It's time to show your hand. No more sitting on the fence. Who is your favorite Mr. Darcy? I've been going back and forth between Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen, but when it came down to that all important click, I had to go with Matthew.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Review for Searching for Pemberley from Diary of an Eccentric

Jane Austen sequels and "re-imaginings" are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I love it when I find one that stands out from the crowd. Also, I am always seeking out books on World War II. Put these together, and you have Mary Lydon Simonsen's Searching for Pemberley.

Simonsen's heroine is Maggie Joyce, an American stationed in London in 1947 with the Army Exchange Service. World War II ended just two years prior, and the British are still feeling the pinch of rations, grieving the death of loved ones killed in the battlefield or by the bombs, and doing their best to get by while standing in the midst of destruction...

Maggie travels with a friend to Derbyshire to visit Montclair, a historic house that once belonged to William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison Lacey, a couple believed to have inspired Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Maggie, a huge fan of the classic novel, wants to know as much as she can about the home and the Laceys to determine whether they truly are Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Her search to learn more about the Laceys brings her to the doorstep of Jack and Beth Crowell, and an instant bond is formed. Jack and Beth grow to love Maggie and think of her as a daughter, and through frequent visits and correspondence, Maggie reads letters and diary entries and slowly uncovers the history of the Lacey and Garrison families...

Meanwhile, Maggie must contend with a longing to return to her hometown in Pennsylvania and her desire at the same time to stay away. She comes from a coal-mining town with few opportunities, and she's grown to love the life she's leading in England. Besides Jack and Beth, Maggie has feelings for both Rob, an American who served as a navigator on a B-17 bomber during the war and wears the scars to prove it, and Michael, Beth and Jack's son and a pilot in the RAF. Things get a little complicated for Maggie, especially when she learns how deeply the horrors of war have affected Rob.

Searching for Pemberley grabbed me from the first page, and I was so lost in the story that I was reading 50-page chunks on the train and bus and almost missing my stop. Simonsen writes from the first person viewpoint of Maggie, but her use of storytelling is what makes the narrative shine... Simonsen did a great job crafting the story of the Laceys-making them different enough from the Darcys to keep the story fresh-and seamlessly weaving in Jack and Beth's story. I actually was surprised how much the book dealt with the topic of war and its impact, which makes Searching for Pemberley so much more than a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. Honestly, the Jane Austen aspect of the story is just one part of the puzzle...

I found the entire book interesting, and Simonsen did an admirable job moving between the Regency, Great War, and World War II settings. I never expected to discover a book that successfully merges two of my primary reading interests into one story, so you can bet this gem of a novel will hold a special place on my shelf.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Great Reviews for Searching for Pemberley

Chicks With Books: Searching for Pemberly by Mary Lydon Simonsen is wonderful historical fiction! Filled with romance, history and the mystery behind the real life characters of Pride & Prejudice. Instead of reinventing Pride & Prejudice into a different story, Mary Lydon Simonsen gives us Maggie Joyce, a girl who loves Jane Austen, who happens to be working in London and has "stumbled upon a rumor that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was based on the lives of a real couple."

What could be more fun then solving the age old question of who the real Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are! Just after World War II, a young Maggie Joyce has just graduated from business school and leaves her coal town in Pennsylvania for office work in Washington, DC... When it's time to move on, we see a little spark of adventure in Maggie as she travels to work first in Germany and then finally in London, England, home to her heroine Jane Austen! It's here where the story really begins... With a tour of what is thought to be Pemberly and the rumors of the real life love story that Pride & Prejudice was based on!

Although this is fiction, you just can't stop yourself from wishing that all that Maggie uncovers is the truth behind the actual romance between "Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy". The story is so well thought out that it is quite believable. Through correspondence and long forgotten diaries & letters Maggie finds, we are propelled into the mystery ourselves! The writing is good, the research done to stay true to the times is evident, and of course the characters are likable and believable. A very unique take in what is a large number of Jane Austen inspired books, Searching for Pemberley is a wonderful story. I so enjoyed this book! And if you are a Jane fan, you will enjoy it too! Mary Lydon Simonsen treats us to a leisurely paced story! Like enjoying a steeping cup of tea, you slowly breathe it all in. Maggie doesn't uncover anything earth shattering, but what Mary Lydon Simonsen uncovers is a story that will keep your interest! A wonderful mystery, a nice heap of romance, and this all adds up to a book well worth any Jane Austen fans' time. The story was more than I could have hoped for!


Once Upon a Romance: Searching for Pemberley is the first novel by Mary Lydon Simonsen and it is a great historical debut. This novel is rich in history and romance as American Maggie Joyce meets up with Beth and Jack Crowell, a couple with knowledge and information about the lives of William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison, a couple whose lives sound very much like those of the lead characters from Pride and Prejudice, Fitwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Fascinated by old letters, the love story of the Crowell’s, and more than a little interested in finding romance herself, Maggie learns of how the Crowell’s love has managed to get them through many family deaths from war. She also learns a great deal about the Lacey and Garrison family through diaries and letters and a lot about herself and what is important to her. Her discovery of what is important when it comes to love leads her away from one man and to another, the Crowell’s son Michael, a man destined to be her own Mr. Darcy.

This was an enjoyable book with a lot of history and some romance. I found the story entertaining and thought the author did a great job of incorporating the main characters from Pride and Prejudice into this book. I feel that the book would have been a little bit better had the relationship between Maggie and Rob been less of a focus, making it more realistic and more believable that Maggie actually loved Michael. 4.75/5.00 Wendy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reviews for The Second Date

Reviews for The Second Date:

Jenny Loves to Read - I was particularly pleased with this review b/c Jenny is an Italian-American from South Philly, so to receive her stamp of approval was very gratifying. Jenny Loves to Read is also having a giveaway. So why don't you go over to her blog and have a look. It's one of my favorite blogs.

This book is much more than Sonia having trouble finding a good guy. This book perfectly describes the Italian-American community of first and second generation immigrants. I should know since I am Italian and grew up in such a neighborhood.

My Grandmom had the plastic furniture covers, parties were held at the Knights of Columbus club, and although other ethnicity's were eventually welcomed, it was hoped Italians married Italians. That's just way it was, and it was the same in the Irish neighborhoods too. As the generations pass, these ways of life have changed, and you won't find too many people with kitchens and living rooms in the basements any more. As matter of fact, the feeling of community that is so prevalent in this book, is starting to disappear as well. Times change.

As she did with Searching for Pemberley, Simonsen seamlessly weaves the characters back stories and other fascinating tidbits into the story. Yes, Italian families still have tons of drama and are emotional, but the core value of family is always there. Your family may not approve of your private life, but they will always love you and do anything for you. Most Italians never forget where they came from either, and maybe that's why we still have our festivals and make big pots of gravy and meatballs every Sunday. (Gravy=sauce in my part of town.)

This was a wonderful little story, and the 1980s setting made me laugh at times. Sonia and the rest of the characters in the story are all sweet in their own way. They may even remind you of people you know yourself. Simonsen is quite good at making the reader feel like a part of the story. You tend to forget where you are, or at least I did. Overall this was a fun and engaging read which brought back a lot of memories for me, including flocked wallpaper and crushed velvet furniture. Oh, don't ask. Jen Ritter


Books Like Breathing - I have never really read a book where the image of an Italian-American was positive. From my childhood I have been bombarded with images of the stereotypes of Italian culture. Mafia bosses, goons, murderers, whacking. Not at all what I have grown up with as an Italian-American... The Second Date was completely different. Not only were the people familiar but the behavior, the language, the dialect was all a page from my life. I found myself laughing out loud in many places because it was so familiar. It would be lovely to see a book like this sitting next to Mario Puzo's novels as representations of Italian-American culture. Or better yet, replacing it altogether... The romance was also good. Nick and Sonia were so cute together. But it was the portrayal of Italian-American culture was the shining star in this book for me at least... I was really pleased with this novel. - Grace Lociano

POD Book Reviews and More - Like a good antipasto, The Second Date is colorful, flavorful, and full of tantalizing little nuggets that aren't too filling - an excellent read, in fact, for anyone who grew up Italian-American in the 80's. And if you didn't - well, now you'll know what fun you were missing. - Dianne Salerni

The Book Shelf - The Second Date - Love American Style is a fine blend of blind dates, food, family, friends, and life. Set in the 1980's, it is written in an easy style, has good humor thrown in, contains the characters of overbearing mother, warring aunts, and the close friend. It's a joy to read as we witness Sonia's journey to find true love. The Second Date is a charming book, well-written with sympathetic characters and an all too true story line. There are many shining moments in this book and it is one not to be bypassed in modern romantic reading. - L Anne Carrington

Bestseller's World - This is a lovely book that spans several decades and gives the reader a vivid idea of what it is like to grow up in an Italian-American family. - Pam Reid

Friday, December 11, 2009

Interview with Jenny Loves to Read and Giveaway of Searching for Pemberley

This was a fun interview because Jenny and I grew up in the same neck of the woods, i.e., North Jersey and South Philly, and have a lot in common. I hope you'll check out her blog. Jenny Loves to Read

Great Review from The Book Tree for Searching for Pemberley

The Book Tree: Maggie Joyce finds herself working in London after World War II... Little did Maggie know that she would stumble upon an adventure that would take her on a search for the identies of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, the couple made famous in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. What if the characters in Pride and Prejudice were based on real people but made to appear fictitious?... What if Maggie could discover the real truth?

The book gives a character synopsis so that you can catch yourself up for the story if you are not familiar with the Pride and Prejudice characters. I think Jane Austen followers, as well as those that have never read a word of Jane Austen, will love this book. It delves into a world where every reader can get excited about the possibilities of what might have been. It allows the reader to go on the search with Maggie and figure out the mystery as if they were Maggie. I highly recommend this book!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Interview and Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews

Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews is having a giveaway of Searching for Pemberley (today through December 13). There is also a fascinating interview with the author of the novel (aka, me). I hope you will visit Meredith's blog because she has a lot of information on her site about everything you ever wanted to now about Austen-related books, products, etc.

Winter Guide to Jane Austen Sequels

Sourcebooks, the largest publisher of Austen-related fiction, has put together a winter guide of new releases. You will be able to download the first chapter to see if that particular book is your cup of tea. Searching for Pemberley is among those listed. I hope you will have a look. Jane Austen Sequels

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cuckleburr Times Blog Post and Giveaway

If you've been wondering how to weave historical research into your storyline, you can read my blog post at
Cuckleburr Times. Another reason to mosey on over there is Cuckleburr is giving away two copies of Searching for Pemberley, and if you have been curious as to what I look like, there is an awful picture of me as well. The sad thing is that this is the best picture I could come up with. My hair looks like a football helmet.

Interview and Review of Searching for Pemberley on Savvy Verse and Wit

I was interviewed by Serena of Savvy Wit and Verse for her blog. She also has a review of Searching for Pemberley and a giveaway of my novel. If you would like to check it out, click Savvy Verse and Wit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Viewing the Masters in the Regency Era

At the time Jane Austen had Elizabeth Bennet visiting Pemberley, the Darcy estate, there were no public art museums in Great Britain. Those wishing to view paintings and sculptures of the Masters would visit England's great estates as well as the extensive parkland surrounding their magnificent manor houses. Middle-class travelers could visit Blenheim, the ancestral seat of the Churchills, or Chatsworth, one of several homes of the Dukes of Devonshire, among many others. The first National Gallery in England would not open until 1824, seven years after Austen's death, at 100 Pall Mall, in the former townhouse of John Julius Angerstein, a Russian emigre, banker, and art collector, who had died the previous year. It was small, hot, crowded, and a national embarrassment when compared to the Louvre in Paris, but it was a start.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Interview on Fresh Fiction

I have been on a blog tour since November 18, and it has been so much fun. Today, I was interviewed for freshfiction.com. where I was asked about my writing habits. Here is a part of my response:

"When I begin writing a story, I start with a “brain dump;” that is, I type out a very rough draft of a chapter. Once I have that down, I want my mind to be empty of all other thoughts, so I go for a long walk or I engage in some mindless task, such as sweeping the patio or pruning my shrubs. But when I really need to concentrate on a scene, my favorite thing to do is to get out my Shark steamer and clean my tile floor. Although my husband has gotten used to me talking to myself while I clean the floors, he’s still puzzled why I find it necessary to speak with a British accent. But it does make a difference. If I’m writing about a character from Britain’s upper classes, I talk in a posh accent. If I’m writing dialog for a servant, I affect a lower class accent (my thanks to Masterpiece Theater for producing Upstairs Downstairs, which has both)..." For the complete interview, please visit Fresh Fiction. This is a terrific site.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Great Review for Searching for Pemberley from The Long and Short of It

An amazingly unique and engrossing tale of three love stories that spans two wars, two continents, and three couples. Searching for Pemberley begins with an American woman searching for the roots of her favorite novel and discovers so much more along the way. An historic and imaginative romance for all times.

On a whim, Maggie Joyce travels with a friend to see Montclair, an old manor house outside of London in post World War II England. Little did she know she’d stumble upon the inspiration for Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice. Intrigued, she decides to investigate more and winds up in the middle of two love stories she never imagined...

Having never read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I was worried that I would be lost at best and bored at worst. However, Ms. Simonsen not only weaves a beautiful love story but also very craftily explains the ins and outs of Jane Austen’s novel so well that even someone who hasn’t read it will understand and enjoy the novel. Searching for Pemberley is without a doubt a must read for any fan of Pride and Prejudice or simply a fan of people finding one another, beating the odds, and falling in love. For the full review, please visit: The Long and Short of It

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guest Post at Rundpinne

I am a guest blogger at Rundpinne in which I mentioned this video. A study in Australia said that women in that county preferred Mr. Darcy to Brad Pitt, and this man set out to test it on his own. It's a hoot! I hope you will pop over and read my post. Thanks. Mary

Grade A Review from Books Like Breathing for Searching for Pemberley

I received a terrific review from Grace Lociano's blog. Here is a part of the review. For the entire review, please visit Books Like Breathing

I really liked that this was a mix of historical fiction and a Jane Austen sequel. Two of my very favorite genres mixed into one book. The premise of this novel was also really great. The idea of Lizzy and Darcy being real people made me do a mini-happy dance. I think that it is a dream every Pride and Prejudice fan has…that their hero and heroine really had that beautiful love story... Overall, this was one of the most fun experiences that I have had reading a Jane Austen sequel in a while. I would recommend this to anyone looking for something really different. I can’t wait for Simonsen’s next books. Grade: A

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Skating Party


Skating party
Originally uploaded by Mary L. Simonsen
Other than walking and riding, there were few outdoor activities that a woman could do in Regency England, but ice skating was one of them. Although this picture shows only the two dandies skating while their female companions look on, women did skate, often on the arm of their suitor. Obviously, the two men in this picture are trying to impress the ladies. They are in their best clothes, and they must have been freezing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The winner of the Other Mr. Darcy is....

Julia Ergane is the winner of The Other Mr. Darcy. If you will e-mail me at quailcreekpub@hotmail.com. and send me your mailing address, I will get the book out to you. Congratulations. The competition was intense.

After purusing everyone's comments, the answer to the question of whether Col. Fitzwilliam would marry Caroline Bingley is a definite "he might." However, there was little enthusiasm for the match, so I will not be writing a book entitled "Col. and Caroline Fitzwilliam, The First Year." Thanks for entering my giveaway.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In World War II, lipstick tubes became bullets.

The setting for my novel, Searching for Pemberley, takes place in post World War II England. As a result, I did a lot of research on the war and post-war periods. Did you know that when World War II broke out and the country went on a wartime footing, and manufacturers had to convert their assembly lines to produce materiel needed for the war? Some of the changes resulted in a shortage of lipstick tubes (needed for bullets) and nylons (necessary for parachutes) and the auto industry stopped producing sedans and started making tanks and airplanes. If you would like to learn more, please read my guest post at A Bibliophile's Bookshelf.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book Blog Schedule for November for Searching for Pemberley

Today is the first day of my blog tour for Searching for Pemberley. I hope you will visit and read my guest posts. Because I wrote the posts, I can give you my personal assurance that they are interesting. :)

11/18 - A Bibliophile's Bookshelf - Something I learned in my research for SFP
11/20 - Romance Junkies - Keeping Austen alive through writing
11/30 - Rundpinne - Why I wrote about Austen's characters

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reviews for Searching for Pemberley

Searching for Pemberley is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and others.

Lib's Library Blogspot - Searching For Pemberley, is different from any other Jane Austen "sequel" that I've read. It's a love story, inside of a love story, inside of a love story. A facinating look into "Austen life" in the 1800's, and into life in Europe in the 1940's. Filled with historical details, and packed with everything that Austen fans are looking for... dashing young men, beautiful young women, conflicts, social issues, humor, British aristocracy, and LOVE.

Could it be true, that Darcy and Elizabeth were real people? Is Pemberley still standing today? Simonsen has done a wonderful job. Searching For Pemberley took me on a fabulous ride. I found myself inside of Austen's world, and I enjoyed every minute! If you are a dyed in the wool Austen fan, Searching For Pemberley should go right to the top of your TBR pile. Jane would be proud! http://libslibrary.blogspot.com/2009/12/searching-for-pemberley-review.html

Jenny Loves To Read - This book is much more than a Pride and Prejudice re-imagined, or continuation of the story. It takes the view that Austen was inspired by real events, relates that inspiration, and along the way tells the story of people living and growing up in England during two world wars. The author also explains Maggie's background and her life growing up in a coal mining town. Again, another tough way to live, but people did it and still do.

This story is fashioned in such a way that the reader forgets they are reading an Austen inspired book. I became wrapped up in the stories of the characters. The British are quite tenacious and let nothing stand in their way. I was transported to the past. Between food rationing and the immigrant experience in America, it became quite clear to me, that I am lucky to be living now. Simonsen clearly did her research, and relates these historical experiences into a great story.

There are indeed three love stories, and possibly four if you count Maggie's relationship with an American airman. Through him the reader learns what it was like to be a bombardier. It is not pretty folks. It is very sad and it amazes me that these young men were able to come back home and lead normal lives, for the most part. As a matter of fact, Maggie has two men vying for her heart; both airmen, one American one British. Two men in uniform, my word...

Overall this was a very enjoyable and engrossing story. I lost myself reading this story, and empathized with each and every character, along with their trials and tribulations. I just wanted to make them all a cup of tea.My Rating: 98/100. Loved it!!! http://jennylovestoread.blogspot.com/2009/12/review-searching-for-pemberley-by-mary.html

Chicks With Books - Searching for Pemberly is wonderful historical fiction! Filled with romance, history and the mystery behind the real life characters of Pride & Prejudice. Instead of reinventing Pride & Prejudice into a different story, Simonsen gives us Maggie Joyce, a girl who loves Jane Austen, who happens to be working in London and has "stumbled upon a rumor that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was based on the lives of a real couple."

What could be more fun then solving the age old question of who the real Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are?! Just after World War II, a young Maggie Joyce, a Jane Austen fan, has just graduated from business school and leaves her coal town in Pennsylvania for office work in Washington, DC. The time just after the war was a dark and dreary time, similar in some respects to the world that Jane Austen writes about in her novel Pride & Prejudice, and we can see the connection that Maggie Joyce has with Jane's work. When it's time to move on, we see a little spark of adventure in Maggie as she travels to work first in Germany and then finally in London, England, home to her heroine Jane Austen! It's here where the story really begins... With a tour of what is thought to be Pemberly and the rumors of the real life love story that Pride & Prejudice was based on!

Although this is fiction, you just can't stop yourself from wishing that all that Maggie uncovers is the truth behind the actual romance between "Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy". The story is so well thought out that it is quite believable. Through correspondence and long forgotten diaries & letters Maggie finds, we are propelled into the mystery ourselves! The writing is good, the research done to stay true to the times is evident, and of course the characters are likable and believable. A very unique take in what is a large number of Jane Austen inspired books, Searching for Pemberley is a wonderful story. I so enjoyed this book! And if you are a Jane fan, you will enjoy it too! Simonsen treats us to a leisurely paced story! Like enjoying a steeping cup of tea, you slowly breathe it all in. Maggie doesn't uncover anything earth shattering, but what Simonsen uncovers is a story that will keep your interest! A wonderful mystery, a nice heap of romance, and this all adds up to a book well worth any Jane Austen fans' time. The story was more than I could have hoped for!
http://chickwithbooks.blogspot.com/2009/12/searching-for-pemberley-by-mary-lydon.html

Once Upon a Romance - Searching for Pemberley is the first novel by Mary Lydon Simonsen and it is a great historical debut. This novel is rich in history and romance as American Maggie Joyce meets up with Beth and Jack Crowell, a couple with knowledge and information about the lives of William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrision, a couple whose lives sound very much like those of the lead characters from Pride and Prejudice, Fitwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Fascinated by old letters, the love story of the Crowell’s, and more than a little interested in finding romance herself, Maggie learns of how the Crowell’s love has managed to get them through many family deaths from war. She also learns a great deal about the Lacey and Garrison family through diaries and letters and a lot about herself and what is important to her. Her discovery of what is important when it comes to love leads her away from one man and to another, the Crowell’s son Michael, a man destined to be her own Mr. Darcy.

This was an enjoyable book with a lot of history and some romance. I found the story entertaining and thought the author did a great job of incorporating the main characters from Pride and Prejudice into this book... http://www.onceuponaromance.net/SearchingForPemberley.htm

Austenprose - Could Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice have been based on the courtship of Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey, a Regency era couple who appear to be the doppelgangers of the legendary Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy? The possibility is intriguing to Maggie Joyce, a 22-year old American working in England after WWII who hears rumors of the story of Elizabeth and William Lacey while touring Montclair, their palatial estate in Derbyshire whose similarities to Pemberley, the grand country estate in Pride and Prejudice seem to be more than a striking coincidence. As a devoted fan of Austen’s most popular novel, Maggie is curious to discover the truth. When she is introduced to Beth and Jack Crowell, a local couple with strong connections to the Lacey family, they gradually reveal to Maggie their own research through the Lacey letters, journals and family lore. As Maggie begins her own journey into the real-life parallel story of the Lacey/Darcy families she meets two young men, a handsome American ex Army Corpsman Rob McAllister who survived his treacherous tour of duty as a bomber navigator over Germany and the Crowell’s youngest son Michael serving in the RAF. Drawn into the struggles of her own love story and inspired by an eighteenth century version amazingly similar to Austen’s original, Maggie, like Elizabeth Bennet must choose if she will only marry for love.

A year ago I read and reviewed the self published version of this book, Pemberley Remembered. Recognizing its strengths and weaknesses, I was pleased to see that it had been picked up by Sourcebooks and would be revamped and combined with a second book, the sequel that Simonsen had already completed. I see vast improvements from its original edition. The complicated story line and vast historical details have been edited down, and the love story of Maggie, Rob and Michael brought forward... It is still obvious from the historical references and antecedents that Simonsen did her research on Georgian and World War era English history as she includes stories about events, people and places to support her characters with aplomb. Searching for Pemberley reads like a documentary where subjects talk about their memories of people and events, or personal letters are read a-la the Ken Burns school of documentary film making... so once I accepted that this novel was not about getting into the characters head or their interactions, I quite enjoyed it...

Written with respect for Jane Austen and a passion for history, Simonsen has combined two genres into a bittersweet war-time drama encompassing the tragic elements of the devastation of war, not only on the men and women that bravely served, but the friends, family and loved ones that they came home to. The references to Pride and Prejudice will enchant Janeites as they remember favorite passages and compare plotlines... http://austenprose.com/2010/01/05/searching-for-pemberley-by-mary-lyndon-simonsen-%e2%80%93-a-review/

The Book Tree: Maggie Joyce finds herself working in London after World War II where she makes friends with a coworker. Little did Maggie know that she would stumble upon an adventure that would take her on a search for the identies of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. The couple made famous in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. What if the characters in Pride and Prejudice were based on real people but made to appear fictitious? What if descendants of these characters were still alive? What if Maggie could discover the real truth?

The book gives a character synopsis so that you can catch yourself up for the story if you are not familiar with the Pride and Prejudice characters. I think Jane Austen followers, as well as those that have never read a word of Jane Austen, will love this book. It delves into a world where every reader can get excited about the possibilities of what might have been. It allows the reader to go on the search with Maggie and figure out the mystery as if they were Maggie. I highly recommend this book!!! http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/2009/12/book-review-searching-for-pemberly-by.html

POD Book of Reviews and More - Maggie Joyce, a young American living in post-World War II England, begins this novel by searching for Pemberley – or, rather, visiting a Regency-era home that may have been the inspiration for the stately home of Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s famous novel. However, a simple afternoon excursion and a conversation about a beloved book ultimately lead Maggie into a soulful search for her own heart’s content...

Maggie’s interest in the story of a Regency-era family who may have inspired Jane Austen’s timeless book Pride and Prejudice blossoms into an enduring friendship with the British couple who have kept and catalogued the family letters and diaries. Through these historical documents, readers are treated to a retelling of the P & P story, with characters and events just different enough from the Austen novel to keep things interesting. Soon, however, we become immersed in the story of the British couple themselves, Beth and Jack Crowell. Beth is a descendent of the Darcy family (here named Lacey) and Jack is the son of her family’s butler. Their unorthodox and class-breaking romance is set against the backdrop of World War I, when a generation of young Englishmen were killed, maimed, or emotionally-scarred by the horrors of war.

Meanwhile, as Maggie grows closer to these people, she begins a romance of her own with a former American flyer, Rob McAllister, who bears visible and not-so-visible scars from his own experiences bombing Germany. As Maggie tentatively embarks on her first true love affair, she finds herself conflicted. She loves Rob, but he will not commit to her, and she is undeniably attracted to Michael Crowell, the son of Beth and Jack, a man she barely knows, but whose family (and ancestors) she has come to love.

This novel intricately weaves multiple timelines of British history – the Regency era and both World Wars – and also includes an engaging glimpse of Maggie’s own hometown in the coal-mining region of the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains, near Scranton. Simonsen has created characters who tug at your heart and skillfully paints an emotional picture of the devastation of war... However, there were also plenty of joyful and truly funny moments, such as a diary entry in which “Mrs. Bennet” gives advice on the marriage bed to her daughters and a humorous retelling of the eldest Crowell son facing a “privacy hole” cut into the bedcovers on his wedding night in Italy. Searching for Pemberley is a historical romance of complexity and depth, with skillfully layered characters that readers will remember for a long time. http://podbram.blogspot.com/

Diary of an Eccentric- Jane Austen sequels and "re-imaginings" are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I love it when I find one that stands out from the crowd. Also, I am always seeking out books on World War II. Put these together, and you have Mary Lydon Simonsen's Searching for Pemberley.

Simonsen's heroine is Maggie Joyce, an American stationed in London in 1947 with the Army Exchange Service. World War II ended just two years prior, and the British are still feeling the pinch of rations, grieving the death of loved ones killed in the battlefield or by the bombs, and doing their best to get by while standing in the midst of destruction...

Maggie travels with a friend to Derbyshire to visit Montclair, a historic house that once belonged to William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison Lacey, a couple believed to have inspired Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Maggie, a huge fan of the classic novel, wants to know as much as she can about the home and the Laceys to determine whether they truly are Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Her search to learn more about the Laceys brings her to the doorstep of Jack and Beth Crowell, and an instant bond is formed. Jack and Beth grow to love Maggie and think of her as a daughter, and through frequent visits and correspondence, Maggie reads letters and diary entries and slowly uncovers the history of the Lacey and Garrison families. Readers take the journey alongside Maggie, and those who have read Pride and Prejudice will see similarities between Austen's beloved characters and Beth's ancestors...

Meanwhile, Maggie must contend with a longing to return to her hometown in Pennsylvania and her desire at the same time to stay away. She comes from a coal-mining town with few opportunities, and she's grown to love the life she's leading in England. Besides Jack and Beth, Maggie has feelings for both Rob, an American who served as a navigator on a B-17 bomber during the war and wears the scars to prove it, and Michael, Beth and Jack's son and a pilot in the RAF. Things get a little complicated for Maggie, especially when she learns how deeply the horrors of war have affected Rob.

Searching for Pemberley grabbed me from the first page, and I was so lost in the story that I was reading 50-page chunks on the train and bus and almost missing my stop. Simonsen writes from the first person viewpoint of Maggie, but her use of storytelling is what makes the narrative shine. Whether the story being told is about the Laceys, the Crowell's love affair, or the hardships experienced during the Great War and World War II, it feels as though you are sitting by the fire listening to an old friend chat. Simonsen did a great job crafting the story of the Laceys -- making them different enough from the Darcys to keep the story fresh -- and seamlessly weaving in Jack and Beth's story. I actually was surprised how much the book dealt with the topic of war and its impact, which makes Searching for Pemberley so much more than a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. Honestly, the Jane Austen aspect of the story is just one part of the puzzle...

I found the entire book interesting, and Simonsen did an admirable job moving between the Regency, Great War, and World War II settings. I never expected to discover a book that successfully merges two of my primary reading interests into one story, so you can bet this gem of a novel will hold a special place on my shelf. http://diaryofaneccentric.blogspot.com/2009/12/searching-for-pemberley-by-mary-lydon.html

Savvy Verse and Wit: Mary Simonsen's Searching for Pemberley starts was a premise many interviewers often ask authors about their fiction: "Are any of your characters based upon real people?" Did Jane Austen use real people to write the great love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? Simonsen's book may not offer the truth behind Austen's characters, but it does spin a unique mystery tale through which one possible reality of Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennet are discovered.

Mr. Crowell, you don't know me. I'm Maggie Joyce, but I was wondering if . . .' But that was as far as I got.

'You're here about the Darcy's right? Don Caton rang me to let me know you might be coming 'round. Come through. Any friend of Jane Austen's is a friend of mine.

Maggie Joyce is the main protagonist and an American from a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. She quickly leaves her hometown of Minooka for Washington, D.C., to help with the government with its World War II-related administrative work. Eventually she is stationed in Germany and later in England following the end of the war. She meets a fantastic family, the Crowells, who help her unravel the real family behind Jane Austen's characters.

Beth gestured for me to follow her into the parlor. She had a way of carrying herself that was almost regal, especially when compared to her husband, who reminded me of a former football player who had taken a hit or two.
Told from Maggie's point of view, the novel grabs readers with its immediacy as Maggie moves through war-torn Europe and reads through a variety of diary entries and letters to uncover the origins of Pride and Prejudice. Readers who have read Austen's novel once or more than a dozen times will recognize echoes of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in the Crowells and may even find parts of the mystery obvious. However, this story is more than a look at where Austen may have found inspiration, it is about a nation (England) and its people in the midst of rebuilding after the devastation of the German blitzkrieg and World War II. There also a healthy dose of romance between Maggie and two beaus that add to the tension.

Nightmares from the war that I hadn't had in ten, fifteen years came back. Jesus, they all came back, he said, massaging his temples as if the act would block out any unwanted images. Picking up bodies and having them fall apart in my hands. Stepping on limbs. Being scared shitless during barrages.

Simonsen does an excellent job examining the shell shock felt by airmen and other military personnel and how their war experiences could impact their relationships with family, friends, and lovers. While there are some occasions in this nearly 500-page book that are bogged down by too much detail, Simonsen's characters are well developed and the twists and turns as Maggie unravels the mystery of the Bennets and the Darcys are fun. The aftermath of World War II is well done and rich in emotional and physical detail, showing Simonsen's deft research and keen eye. Searching for Pemberley is an excellent addition to the every growing market of Jane Austen spin-offs.

Review from My Book Addiction: This is a strong love story, it is amusing, it’s about times after the war in Britain. It has strong characters, and a good story line. I would recommend this book especially if you like time period.

Books Like Breathing: I have been very lucky with Jane Austen sequels lately... This one is no exception. It was unlike any other Jane Austen sequel I have ever read. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

I really liked that this was a mix of historical fiction and a Jane Austen sequel. Two of my very favorite genres mixed into one book. The premise of this novel was also really great. The idea of Lizzy and Darcy being real people made me do a mini-happy dance. I think that it is a dream every Pride and Prejudice fan has… that their hero and heroine really had that beautiful love story. I also thought that the romance between Maggie and Michael was really well done. I really liked that their story did not mirror Lizzy and Will (Darcy) because I think that would have been the easy way. They had their own feel and were much more easy going than Lizzy and Will.

The history geek in me feels that she must comment so she will. I really thought that the use of diaries and letters helped to bring the story of Lizzy and Will to life. I did not feel as if they were specters from the past but real people with an interesting and quite smushy romance. Maggie was also great to follow during her research. It was so fun to follow her quest for knowledge about the real Lizzy and Darcy and as a reformed historian, I think the historical research was the most fun part of the book.

Overall, this was one of the most fun experiences that I have had reading a Jane Austen sequel in a while. I would recommend this to anyone looking for something really different. I can’t wait for Simonsen’s next books. Grade: A

A Bibliophile's Bookshelf: "Rather than writing a sequel ..., Mary Simonsen has gone a different route. She’s written a unique novel based on the idea that the characters of Pride and Prejudice were actually real people that Jane Austen knew and based her popular book on.

Searching for Pemberleyis rich in historical detail, as the book is set in the post-war England. History buffs will certainly be pleased with how accurate the historical facts are, and as someone who hasn’t read many post-war novels I found the historical details very enjoyable.

This was such a sweet, lovely read, with such rich characters and it was with much regret that it had to end... With the holidays just around the corner, I definitely recommend purchasing this beautifully written book for the Jane Austen fan in your family. I know I will be buying a copy for my favorite Jane Austen fans." For the complete review, please visit: A Bibliofile's Bookshelf

Publisher's Weekly: Using a literary mystery rooted in Jane Austen's inspiration for Pride and Prejudice, Simonsen's debut novel brings resonance to the story of a love-torn American girl in post-WWII London. Young and eager for adventure, Maggie Joyce has left her jobless Pennsylvania coal-mining town for a typist position overseas. In London, she discovers two love interests as well as connections to the real-life Londoners rumored to have been the basis for Pride's Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Learning to disregard her prim and proper instincts, Maggie becomes closer to her very own version of Darcy, as well as the families of the original Darcy and Bennet, from whom she receives old diary entries and letters. Simonsen is clever and evenhanded, maintaining an unhurried pace in both the Austen adventure and Maggie's love life. Fans of historical fiction and Austen should savor this leisurely read.

The Romantic Times: In this sweet and nostalgic novel, Simonsen borrows from Pride and Prejudice to create her own post-World War II love story, originally published in 2007 as Pemberley Remembered. Simonsen's attention to Maggie's complex character shows.

Austenesque Reviews: “Searching for Pemberley,”originally published as “Pemberley Remembered” in 2007, is an exceptional Austen-Inspired novel that combines history, romance, war, and “Pride and Prejudice.” In this novel, Mary Lydon Simonsen explores the possibility of Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice” being inspired by real people and illustrates how the love story of Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey parallels that of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy...

Maggie Joyce, our quiet and unassuming heroine, does not have a lot to be cheerful about as she lives in London post World War II and works for the Army Exchange Service. Even though the war ended two years ago much of London is still devastated and destroyed, items like eggs and tea are considered a scarcity, and living quarters are often cramped and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, Maggie finds enjoyment in spending her weekends touring country estates near London. One day she encounters Montclair, a famous estate rumored to be the inspiration for Jane Austen's Pemberley and she learns that many people believe the couple that lived there were the models for Jane Austen's characters of Elizabeth and Darcy. After touring the house Maggie decides to discover for herself if there is any validity to this rumor and embarks upon her own “Pride and Prejudice Project.”

Maggie is introduced to Beth and Jim Crowell, a couple who is connected to and is very knowledgeable about the Lacey family. This lovely and friendly couple begin to care for Maggie as a daughter and become a surrogate family for her while she is away from home. I greatly enjoyed Maggie's relationship with this kind and dear couple; they... shared the story of their own loving, yet at times unhappy and troubled marriage.

There are two men in Maggie's life during her time in England: Rob McAllister, who served in WWII as a navigator on a B-17 bomber and Michael Crowell, son of Beth and Jim, who serves in the RAF. One of these men is reserved, emotionally scarred, and has a commitment problem. The other is flirtatious, charming, and already in a relationship... I took pleasure in this love triangle and at times couldn't decide who I wanted Maggie to be with; Ms. Simonsen created a very captivating and heartrending romance.

How I enjoyed this unique and inventive tale by Mary Lydon Simonsen! It is a serious story and one that is leisurely and lovingly told. I greatly appreciated Ms. Simonsen's attention to detail and her impeccable research and representation of life post World War II. One of my favorite aspects of this novel was how well it portrayed the challenges of living during a war and how it effects and changes the lives of so many for such a long time. In addition, I enjoyed the various documents, diary entries, and letters interspersed throughout the story. These documents, to and from the Laceys, were what Maggie was researching to determine if the Laceys were the real Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I loved hearing the voices and thoughts of these characters through their letters and I found it quite amusing that Anne de Bough would serve as a confidante and faithful correspondent to Mr. Darcy! While these letters and diary entries were insightful and interesting, I would have loved for the story of Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey to be a little more imaginative and original (especially the proposal scenes).

I highly recommend “Searching For Pemberley” for readers who want a break from reading light-hearted and fluffy novels and are interested in a mature and serious tale of three love stories interwoven with the tragedies of war and the discovery of a true “Pride and Prejudice” romance. I dearly hope to see more works from Mary Lydon Simonsen in print soon!

My Victorian Books: On a trip to England, after World War II, an American woman, Maggie James, sets out to investigate a rumor concerning Jane Austen's writing of literature's famous Pride and Prejudice. The history of Pemberley begins to open as she meets the residents of a beautiful stately mansion in the countryside. Was this the actual home of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy? Through reading a series of old documents, Maggie begins to unravel the history and personalities behind one of the most beloved romances in literature.The author's writing flows with ease from page to page, making it an easy, fast read. It's a story that brings new insight, meaning, and possibilities to an old favorite that is sure to fascinate Austen fans.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Winner of the Giveaway Poll is .....

The winner of my poll by a full length is Monica Fairview's The Other Mr. Darcy. The final numbers were 50/34/16 with Murder at Longbourn finishing second. Now, here is what you need to do in order to win a copy of The Other Mr. Darcy.

*You must be a resident of the United States or Canada.
*You must answer the question below as that will be your entry into the giveaway.
*If you are a follower of my blog, you are entered twice. If you are following me on Twitter (see side bar), you are entered twice. If you are related to me, you are entered twice. (I'm kidding on that third one.) All other entries are entered only once.
*Check back on Tuesday, November 24, to see if you have won. If you did win, please contact me at quailcreekpub@hotmail.com, so that I may get your mailing information.

To recap: Meet residency requirements, answer question, and if you win, contact me by e-mail. Pretty easy.

Here is the book's description as shown on Amazon: "Caroline Bingley is our heroine. She is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet; that is, until she meets his American cousin. Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?"

Monica Fairview's Caroline is intelligent and considerate. However, most of us know Jane Austen's Caroline as a catty and conniving woman. These two very different portrayals got me to thinking about another possible scenario. So here is my question:

Caroline Bingley is rich. Col. Fitzwilliam is in need of a rich wife. Would it be possible for the two to get together? If so, why? And if not, why not?

I have read the book and enjoyed it. For a full review, please visit Austenesque Reviews. I hope you will enter my giveaway.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

This award was given to my blog by Meredith Esparza. The rules for the award are: accept the award; post it on your blog with the name of the person who gave you the award along with his or her blog link; pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered and remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award. I did all that (because I was never the one to break a chain letter), so here are my top 15 blogs. The envelope please.

Austenesque Reviews - Jane Austen World - Austen Prose - Jane Austen in Vermont - Monica Fairview (The Other Mr. Darcy) Home Site
Jenny Loves to Read - Books Like Breathing - The Burton Review - The Book Shelf - All About Romance
Enchanted by Josephine - Historical Hussies - Frances Hunter's American Heroes Blog - Dickensblog - Italian-American Girl

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reviews of The Other Mr. Darcy and Murder at Longbourn

Because I write Austen-related fiction, I do not review books written by others who also write novels with Austen tie-ins. However, Meredith at Austenesque Reviews does, so you might want to visit her excellent blog for reviews of The Other Mr. Darcy and Murder at Longbourn. She also has reviews posted with Monica Fairview and Tracy Kiely. Meredith has not yet reviewed A Match for Mary Bennet. http://www.janeaustenreviews.blogspot.com/

Austen Quip of the Day

Catherine Morland takes out a restraining order against John Thorpe, citing stalking and creepiness.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giveaway

My novel, Searching for Pemberley, will be available in December. In honor of this auspicious event, I am having a giveaway of someone else's book because I don't have a copy of my own. But which one of the three books in my possession should I give away? I hope you will participate in my poll (see sidebar). Mary

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Second Date Review on The Book Shelf

The Second Date was chosen by The Book Shelf blog as the pick of the day. I hope you'll go to the site and read the review. Please and thanks. http://www.newandgoodreading.blogspot.com/2009/11/todays-pick-i-like-11209.html#comment-form

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Review of Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely

This is a clever mystery in the style of Murder, She Wrote and Cabot Cove. Elizabeth Parker is vising her Aunt Winnie on Cape Cod when a very unpopular guest is murdered. Because Elizabeth's aunt is a suspect, Elizabeth starts investigating the crime on her own. If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice, you will enjoy all the quotes from the novel that Ms. Kiely has seamlessly worked into the story. A quick, fun read. For a more in-depth review and an interview with the author, visit Austenesque Reviews: http://www.janeaustenreviews.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 23, 2009

Great Review for The Second Date - From Books Like Breathing Blog

I know The Second Date does not have an Austen tie-in (except for my main character who is an Austen fan and an editor), but it is getting very good reviews because it is funny. And I can now say that because that's what the reviewers are saying. I hope you will give it a look by clicking on the picture in the sidebar. Maybe this review will help you decide.

"I have never really read a book where the image of an Italian-American was positive. From my childhood I have been bombarded with images of the stereotypes of Italian culture. Mafia bosses, goons, murderers, whacking. Not at all what I have grown up with as an Italian-American… The Second Date was completely different. Not only were the people familiar but the behavior, the language, the dialect was all a page from my life. I found myself laughing out loud in many places because it was so familiar. It would be lovely to see a book like this sitting next to Mario Puzo’s novels as representations of Italian-American culture. Or better yet, replacing it altogether… The romance was also good. Nick and Sonia were so cute together. But it was the portrayal of Italian-American culture that was the shining star in this book for me at least… I was really pleased with this novel.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Wordy Shipmates - A Review

The Wordy Shipmates is a look at our Puritan roots. A book about the Puritans? Pretty dry stuff—unless it’s written by Sarah Vowell. But reading this book reminded me of someone who drives a SUV with off-road capabilities. You are humming along reading a rambling, but very interesting, story of the Puritans carving a civilization out of a wilderness, when you find yourself on a side road that takes you to a story line involving the Brady Bunch.

But when she writes of John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and religious zealots, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, and the Puritans’ Indian allies and/or enemies, it is a page turner. She brings a unique and often amusing perspective to this chapter in Colonial American history. As an American, she is an admirer of these people who wanted to build “a city on the hill” for all to emulate, but as a realist, she examines the contradictions of a God-fearing people who can burn an entire Pequot village, women and children included, and find that such an act is Bible based. Grade: A-

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sourcebooks Publishing - Authors and Other Info

If you are a fan of Jane Austen sequels, variations, or tie-ins, you are probably reading a book published by a Sourcebooks Publishing author. If you would like to know more about Sourcebooks and its authors (including me), click on the following link. There is also a lot of information on Jane Austen and links to other Austen sites. http://www.sourcebooks.com/sourcebooks-community-books-and-solutions.html

Friday, October 2, 2009

First anniversary of writing fan fiction

I started writing Jane Austen fan fiction for two sites last year. It’s been a lot of fun, and I thought I’d share some of what I’ve experienced.
1) Most of my readers are from the U.S., followed by the U.K., Canada, and Australia, but I also have readers from countries all over the world: Malaysia, Ecuador, Slovenia, Belarus, Philippines, Malta, Texas, and so on.
2) I’ve made friends. Through e-mails, I am corresponding with several people who I got to know through my stories. When my daughter got married, I received numerous “best wishes” e-mails.
3) I enjoy every review or almost every review. (I did have one person who swore at me when the story didn’t go in the direction she thought it should.) But of the hundreds and hundreds of comments, I’ve only had a few truly negative reviews. Those too have been helpful in improving my writing.
4) One reader (a young lady from England) writes her reviews using short phrases, colons, and parenthesis. ;) I had to ask her to explain them to me. Another reader sends only smiley faces, but it is appreciated.
5) Some people are angst weenies (I’m one of them). If they think something bad is going to happen, esp. to Darcy and Lizzy, they’ll send me a PM asking what’s going to happen.
6) A lot of people enjoy guessing where the story will go next. I’ve used some of their ideas in my stories. If you’re reading “Anne Elliot – I Am Woman,” the idea for Swoosh originated with an e-mail from someone who asked if I was going to do a spoof of Mansfield Park and make Fanny Price a secret agent. That idea eventually led to Anne connecting with a street urchin who knows the ins and outs of the bad streets of Bath.
7) Pride and Prejudice is by far the most popular Austen novel. Between the two sites (fanfiction.net and meryton.com), I had 1,200 people following my P&P stories. Only 500 people are following the Persuasion story.
8) Darcy and Lizzy may have to climb mountains to be together, but by the end of the story, they better be together.
9) There are dedicated readers who read the story within an hour of it being posted, but there are also readers who want to read several chapters at one time.
10) I love writing, and I would write even if I didn’t receive reviews/comments. However, I love getting reviews. It’s a way of connecting, and I enjoy it. I’m looking forward to my next year of writing fan fiction.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Contact Author/Blogger

If there is anything you would like to share with me, but don't want to post a comment on the blog, you may e-mail me at: quailcreekpub@hotmail.com. Looking forward to hearing from you. Mary

Great Reviews for The Second Date

Afer reading the reviews, if you would like to purchase, The Second Date, please click on the picture of the novel in the sidebar. If you would like an autographed copy, click on "New from $7.95" on the Amazon book page. I sell my books under Quail Creek Publishing. It is also available in the Kindle Version for $2.99.

Jenny Loves To Read - I was particularly pleased with this review b/c Jenny is an Italian-American from South Philly, so to receive her stamp of approval was very gratifying. Jenny Loves to Read is also having a giveaway. So why don't you go over to her blog and have a look. It's one of my favorite blogs.

This book is much more than Sonia having trouble finding a good guy. This book perfectly describes the Italian-American community of first and second generation immigrants. I should know since I am Italian and grew up in such a neighborhood.

My Grandmom had the plastic furniture covers, parties were held at the Knights of Columbus club, and although other ethnicity's were eventually welcomed, it was hoped Italians married Italians. That's just way it was, and it was the same in the Irish neighborhoods too. As the generations pass, these ways of life have changed, and you won't find too many people with kitchens and living rooms in the basements any more. As matter of fact, the feeling of community that is so prevalent in this book, is starting to disappear as well. Times change.

As she did with Searching for Pemberley, Simonsen seamlessly weaves the characters back stories and other fascinating tidbits into the story. Yes, Italian families still have tons of drama and are emotional, but the core value of family is always there. Your family may not approve of your private life, but they will always love you and do anything for you. Most Italians never forget where they came from either, and maybe that's why we still have our festivals and make big pots of gravy and meatballs every Sunday. (Gravy=sauce in my part of town.)

This was a wonderful little story, and the 1980s setting made me laugh at times. Sonia and the rest of the characters in the story are all sweet in their own way. They may even remind you of people you know yourself. Simonsen is quite good at making the reader feel like a part of the story. You tend to forget where you are, or at least I did. Overall this was a fun and engaging read which brought back a lot of memories for me, including flocked wallpaper and crushed velvet furniture. Oh, don't ask.

Review by Grace Lociano for Books Like Breathing Blog

I know The Second Date does not have an Austen tie-in (except for my main character who is an Austen fan and an editor), but it is getting very good reviews because it is funny. And I can now say that because that's what the reviewers are saying. I hope you will give it a look by clicking on the picture in the sidebar. Maybe this review will help you decide.

"I have never really read a book where the image of an Italian-American was positive. From my childhood I have been bombarded with images of the stereotypes of Italian culture. Mafia bosses, goons, murderers, whacking. Not at all what I have grown up with as an Italian-American… The Second Date was completely different. Not only were the people familiar but the behavior, the language, the dialect was all a page from my life. I found myself laughing out loud in many places because it was so familiar. It would be lovely to see a book like this sitting next to Mario Puzo’s novels as representations of Italian-American culture. Or better yet, replacing it altogether… The romance was also good. Nick and Sonia were so cute together. But it was the portrayal of Italian-American culture that was the shining star in this book for me at least… I was really pleased with this novel.


Review by Dianne Salerni for POD Review of Books

Talk to any person in my generation with an Italian-American heritage, and you will find certain common characteristics. When they were growing up, they almost certainly had a room in their house where no one dared enter – the formal living room where the carpets bore no trace of footprints and the only visitor important enough to use it was the priest. Their mothers probably used wooden spoons as weapons. Dating a non-Italian was bad, a non-Catholic worse, and bringing home a Jewish date who didn’t even believe in Christ was a crisis of soap-opera proportions. Funerals were like Greek tragedies, and let’s not get started on Thanksgiving dinner.The Second Date is, in part, a comedy romance revolving around the dating adventures of Sonia Amundsen (very Italian, in spite of her half-Norwegian heritage), but it is also an endearing web of family stories that traces several generations of an Italian-American family. As Sonia nears her thirtieth birthday, helpful friends and relatives set her up on a series of blind dates, which Sonia views as excellent fodder for the novels she writes, but not a likely source of romance for herself. In fact, Sonia has never gone on a second date with any of her blind dates and now views The Second Date almost superstitiously as the hallmark of Mr. Right. Mary Simonsen’s narrative wends its way through Sonia’s family history, diverting occasionally into the stories of neighbors and friends. You’ll meet Aunt Gina and Aunt Angie, rival sisters always striving to outdo each other in histrionics. You’ll meet Sonia’s father, Lars Amundsen, an “adopted” Italian ... whose calm and thoughtful nature has made him the neighborhood sage. The cast is rounded out with brothers, sisters-in-law, old boyfriends, blind dates, and a charming man who’d like to break Sonia’s no-second date curse... The Second Date is a slim book, just over 160 pages. Like a good antipasto, it’s colorful, flavorful, and full of tantalizing little nuggets that aren’t too filling – an excellent summer read, in fact, for fans of light romance, or anyone who grew up Italian-American in the 80’s. For complete review visit the Amazon book page or http://podbram.blogspot.com/2009/07/second-date.html

The Book Shelf - The Second Date - Love American Style is a fine blend of blind dates, food, family, friends, and life. Set in the 1980's, it is written in an easy style, has good humor thrown in, contains the characters of overbearing mother, warring aunts, and the close friend. It's a joy to read as we witness Sonia's journey to find true love. The Second Date is a charming book, well-written with sympathetic characters and an all too true story line. There are many shining moments in this book and it is one not to be bypassed in modern romantic reading. - L Anne Carrington


Review by Joseph's Reviews

Do you ever think that your perfect guy might walk into your life, and you won’t even know it because you never gave him a chance?” This is a very important question posed in Mary Lydon Simonsen’s novel The Second Date. The story is about Sonia Amundsen, a Norwegian-Italian-American beauty who goes out on many blind dates – first dates – but never a second. That’s because the 30-year-old has a very precise checklist in her head that will help her determine if and when she meets the perfect man (AKA Mr. Right). When we meet Sonia her biological clock is, of course, madly ticking.

It takes a chance of fate – a scheduled blind date reconciles with an ex-girlfriend and sends a friend in his place – for Sonia to meet someone who makes her act “a little bit nuts.” Once she meets Nick Santangelo it’s pretty clear that Sonia will not be going out on more blind dates. But will things work out?

This is the set-up for this very entertaining and well worth reading story by Simonsen... [T]his is a fine novel by a promising writer. “…what’s worse than losing someone you love? Not loving. That’s worse.” You can find the full review here: http://tiny.cc/Sj3k1

Monday, September 7, 2009

Austen Quip of the Day - See Sidebar for Twitter Updates

9/25/09 - Harriet Smith, tired of Emma's failed attempts to find her a husband, joins a dating service and is matched with Robert Martin.
9/21/09 - Lucy Steele finds her first gray hair on the 4th anniversary of her secret engagement to Edward Ferrars.
9/19/09 - Col. Brandon asks Marianne Dashwood to play "Take a Chance on Me" on the piano-forte while the smug Willoughby looks on.
9/17/09 - Lucy Steele celebrates the 3rd anniversary of her secret engagement to Edward Ferrars without him. Her favorite song is "Alone Again--Naturally."
9/14/09 - An ineducable Amanda Thorpe gives out her personal info to a third party so that she might claim a 100 pound gift card from Wall's Mart. We all know what happened next.
9/12/09 - Amanda Thorpe, desperate to come up with a dowry, responds to a request from a Nigerian banker and gives him all her personal information. We all know what happened next. (Northanger Abbey)

Quips are also on: http://searchingforpemberley.blogspot.com/
OR
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/Bibliofilly