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The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting…

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men

by Jack Caldwell

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Back in 2011, I waxed poetic over Jack Caldwell's Pemberley Ranch which took Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and supplanted it into the world of the American Civil War. This adaptation was successful, and made for an enjoyable read - one that I would gladly repeat. I noted in my review at that time that Caldwell allowed us a hint of sympathy for Caroline Bingley - something that I had never really encountered (outside of 2008's "Lost in Austen" which posits an alternate theory of Caroline as someone whose disposition is not something wholly understood in Austen's time). In 2012's The Three Colonels, Caldwell takes us a step further with Caroline, making her not only sympathetic but likable.

By tweaking the period of Austen's novels ever so slightly, The Three Colonels brings our characters into wartime. Colonel Fitzwilliam (P&P) and Colonel Brandon (S&S) feature as two of the titular heroes, who are already ensconced with characters we know well - Anne de Bourgh and Marianne Dashwood, respectively. The third is a colonel Buford who is introduced as somewhat of a former rake, but who has fallen violently for Caroline Bingley. Readers will recall that Caroline does not have the most attractive of personalities, but Caldwell paints such a picture of her in his first few chapters that, by the end, one cannot help but like her entirely. And he does this not by creating a new persona, but by shining a light on the character we love to hate and providing a perspective not often viewed. Mary Bennet is given a similar treatment and, together, the two characters become justifiably readable.

Perhaps the most laudable aspect of Caldwell's treatment, however, is his portrayal of our antagonists. Distaste for Wickham is a given (and would be difficult to amend - although, yet again, I will reference "Lost in Austen" as an example of an attempt at that), but Caldwell takes it a step even further, making him somewhat more complex. George Wickham has never seen an honorable day in his life, but he seems even darker by this author's hand. I think even Jane Bingley could not find it within her to be sympathetic towards this version of him; and yet in the end of this book, one almost pities him. Similarly, Lady Catherine is naturally obtuse and condescending (and her treatment of her daughter here is despicable) and yet in the end you do almost feel a sort of compassion for her.

I think most adapting authors choose the road well-trodden where the line between good and evil hasn't just been already drawn, but is honored as Jane Austen canon. But in letting that line bleed a bit, and allowing some of those colors to mix, Jack Caldwell manages to refresh the story in a way wholly unseen before.

www.theliterarygothamite.com ( )
  laurscartelli | Mar 26, 2016 |
Now this one was a bit different from the JA books I usually read, and that is always something I approve of. I do like change.

This book is all about Colonel Fitzwilliam and the lady he loves (yes yes we can all figure it is Anne), Colonel Brandon and Marianne, and Colonel Buford who falls for Caroline. Really Caroline?! That was my first thought, but if Darcy can change then so can Caroline and she does change. She actually becomes a really sweet person and I liked her. Which I never thought would happen.

I felt that the book was mostly about Buford and Caroline, then came Fitz and Anne and last the Brandons. But then these two were settled and happy so no drama there. While there sure was drama around Anne and Richard. And of course the romance of Buford and Caroline. What was also fun was that everyone knew each other. Lizzy was friend with the Marianne and Elinor. There is a mention of Tilney and the Elliott family and I do love that. Like they all were there and could have met.

As for the story there was romance, drama and then last, Waterloo. I liked to see all the characters I love and to see new people find happiness and to hear what happened to others. One thing though, something happened that I did not like one bit, I am still a bit upset, sadly I can't say what. Then again another thing also happened which made me really glad so I guess those two things take themselves out. And there was also a love scene that felt a bit awkward. But I have never been one for details. All in all a fun Jane Austen variation. Though even if not a colonel, I still missed Wenthworth, he is a fighting man after all.

If you want more than just Lizzy and Darcy then this might be JA variation for you. Jane Austen's fighting men sure needs love too.
( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
Going into this, I was rather skeptical, both of the fact that it was written by a man (something I've never before encountered) and because I have found that those novels that attempt to combine characters from multiple Austen novels tend to be particularly bad. The merging of the characters did actually work alright, and was perhaps the best part of the book.

One thing Caldwell has done, that I found both interesting and off-putting, is to focus upon the least likable women from P&P. Caroline Bingley gets married (and sexed). She's suddenly supposed to be a likable character, and I am supposed to be happy for her, even though much of the fun of reading or watch P&P is to laugh at her and yell backfire every time she tries to turn Darcy's eyes her way with the end result of making him more interested in Lizzy.

Caldwell actually does a decent job of selling Caroline's transformation. He says that Caroline and Mary became friends, out of lack of anyone else to talk to in combine family gatherings, to the betterment of both. Mary gets a bit fancier and finds a husband and Caroline gets a bit nicer, because she now knows true friendship. I think that's cool. Still, I just cannot like Caroline Bingley; I'm like Darcy: my good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.

I also have trouble sympathizing with Lydia Bennet. She was a stupid girl who did stupid things and got her due punishment (Wickham). Okay, maybe that seems harsh, but, come on, she rubbed her married status in her sisters' faces, even though Wickham had to be bribed to wed her. Nice she is not. Does she deserve better? Maybe, but only slightly so, if that. Thus, the introduction of a character from her past to pursue her (somehow) was not exactly thrilling for me.

Continuing on in the unlikable women of Austen parade, we have Anne de Bourgh. Actually, we don't see much of her in P&P, mostly because Lady Catherine doesn't let other people get a word in edgewise. Anne suffers from curiously poor health. Caldwell has decided that once she got older, she recovered from her poor health. I am actually okay with Anne getting a personality, because she could be a great person, once healthy and away from her awful mother. However, I really think that there must have been someone better to match her up with than her cousin. You're no better than Lady Catherine, Jack Caldwell!

Oh yeah, and, in case you had the idea that men do not write romance novels, allow me to set the record straight. This novel has steamy romance scenes, just like those you would find in the popular romance novels. Of course, there is slightly more discussion of war, but, really, romance is the main subject. Also, I have to say that giving oneself a nickname for during sex seems rather awkward; I laughed heartily at that scene. Do people really do that? Wait, don't answer that.

Also awkward was the organization. One story line would be followed for several chapters, and then it would jump to another one for several chapters. It was hard to form a sense of an overall plot from all of this. I suspected that it had something to do with the Napoleon stuff in the prologue, but since that didn't come up again for hundreds of pages, it was hard to be sure. Note: it does have to do with Napoleon, but first all of the colonels need to be happily coupled. I definitely liked that Caldwell made a bit more of the historical context of the time period. The book is set against the backdrop of Napoleon's escape from Elba and subsequent attempt to take over Europe, but the historical bits are fairly limited.

So, to sum up, this is about as schmaltzy and full of cheesy sex scenes as most Austen-inspired fiction, all of which I seem to find it necessary to subject myself to. It's a fairly entertaining read, but, well, see above. ( )
1 vote A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Will the lives of Marianne, Caroline and Anne be forever changed by love or will the Battle of Waterloo change it for them? Does love really conquer all?

Colonels Brandon, Fitzwilliam and Buford are in various stages of love: either happily married, falling in love for the first time or ignoring ones true feelings growing within. But their love lives will take a turn for the worse when Napoleon escapes from Elba and the troops are recalled to battle. Will the three couples have an Austen-like happy ending or are they destined for a sinister end?

Jack Caldwell offers a softer, more playful side to some of Jane Austen’s beloved characters; he also shows us how well they hold up in battle. As a Jane Austen fan, I appreciated a fresh look at love and war. A fun escape with a bit of history thrown into the mix! ( )
  Shuffy2 | Sep 27, 2012 |
The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men by Jack Caldwell is set during a time in Europe when empires were being built and shifted, including the Napoleonic empire. Colonel Brandon, Colonel Buford, and Colonel Fitzwilliam are the main players here, but Mr. Darcy’s connection to Fitzwilliam and Brandon and Fitzwilliam’s connections to Buford blend the picture seamlessly. A Regency period novel that begins with the exile of Napoleon to Elba is the calm before the storm as the world teeters on the brink of war once again, which can only bring the three colonels into danger, alongside that love-to-hate rogue Wickham. Caldwell can always be counted on for creating tension that leads to fast-paced action in an Austenesque novel, and he even sprinkles in the romance and common misunderstandings Austen’s characters have dealt with in the past.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2012/03/the-three-colonels-jane-austens-fighting-men... ( )
  sagustocox | Mar 13, 2012 |
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"The worlds of Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility merge in this one-of-a-kind continuation of both beloved Jane Austen tales. Love reigns supreme for Colonels Buford, Fitzwilliam, and Brandon as our brave fighting men are enjoying their courtships and early married lives with three beloved Austen heroines. The couples lead tranquil lives--until Napoleon escapes from exile. As the colonels set out to meet their destinies on the fields of Waterloo, Anne, Caroline, and Marianne defend their hearts against the fear of losing their loved ones forever."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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