With familiar settings and familiar characters, reading Mrs Bates of Highbury is just like stepping into a Jane Austen novel and meeting with old friends, even though in this case they are in fact younger. Allie Cresswell has the style of writing pitch perfect and the plot was so like a Jane Austen novel. The manners and mannerisms of the characters were spot on. As in many Austen novels, there is a focus on social niceties and the difficulties for women particularly unmarried women with no income.
Mrs Bates is not the silent old lady we know from Emma. She has been recently widowed and like most mothers in Jane Austen books, is trying to make sure that her daughters are happily married and settled. She is not without the possibility of romantic attachments herself. Hetty, who we know in Emma as Miss Bates, is a nervous young woman, wittering on as she does in Emma, so true to Jane Austen’s character. Her sister Jane is bright and intelligent, keen to see more of the world – or even just more of England! Mr Knightley is only a boy but already thoughtful, intelligent and caring even then. He is considerate of others feelings just as he is when we meet him as an adult. There is no Emma yet but her father Mr Woodhouse, although just in his 30s, is just as paranoid about his and everyone else’s health. He behaves as a much older man even then
I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs Bates of Highbury and feel it is a very convincing prequel to Emma. I really must reread Emma soon as it now seems like such a natural follow-on to this book, which felt almost as though it was flowing from the pen of Jane Austen herself. Although there is going to be another book focusing on the other Miss Bates, Jane, so I’d perhaps better wait for that one first. If you are a fan of Jane Austen and wish she had written more in her short life, I’m sure you would enjoy meeting her characters again in this short but entertaining book.
Thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be part of the tour. Mrs Bates of Highbury is available now as an e-book or in paperback. You can order a copy online here: Mrs Bates of Highbury
From the back of the book
The new novel from Readers’ Favourite silver medalist Allie Cresswell.
Thirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.
Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.
Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.
Mrs Bates of Highbury is the first of three novels by the Amazon #1 best-selling Allie Cresswell, which trace the pre-history of Emma and then run in parallel to it.
About the author
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.
You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com or find her on Facebook
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For the duration of the blog tour, Allie Cresswell has five hard copies of Game Show and five hard copies of Tiger in a Cage, all signed, available for £5 plus p & p to UK addresses. If you are interested then please get in touch.
Follow the rest of the tour and catch up with any stops you’ve missed