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Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange
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Colonel Brandon's Diary

by Amanda Grange

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885137,094 (4.05)4
Member:SimoneA
Title:Colonel Brandon's Diary
Authors:Amanda Grange
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Collections:E-books
Rating:***
Tags:2008, fiction, *novel, read 2012

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Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange

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Showing 5 of 5
Grange's book doesn't provide much insight into the character of Brandon during the events of Sense and Sensibility. The book is really rushed and could have benefitted from a good 50 pages more - the first half, which is Brandon's life up till S&S, is where the author truly shines. His relationship with Eliza in particular felt really realistic and I enjoyed hearing about his time abroad. It's good, easy fluff and Grange's style is clear, free of any sentimentality. Good book. ( )
  RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
This nice novel tells the story of Colonel Brandon, the famous character from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I enjoyed this book, which is an easy and quick read. Nothing surprising, but I wasn't really expecting those. A nice in between read for Austen fans! ( )
  SimoneA | Nov 7, 2012 |
Thank you, Amanda Grange, for realising the heroic and romantic potential of Colonel Brandon, which is merely suggested in Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Also, thank you for the first ‘parallel novel’, or ‘missing scenes’ tribute to a classic story, which not only works, but is beautifully written and well researched.

Forgive my gushing praise of this delightful book, but every word is well deserved!

Though not a fan of Austen’s books, the patient, caring and devoted Colonel Brandon instantly won me over, despite the fact that he is absent for a good part of the story! Modern, younger readers of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ - if there are any teenagers who discover Austen for themselves, without having her ‘genius’ thrust upon them at school – will no doubt appreciate Willoughby more and wish that Marianne could have married her first love, but on second thoughts, I think that Austen made the right match for her more passionate heroine in the end. Yes, Willoughby is young and exciting and charming, but he is also shallow and selfish. Colonel Brandon is older – not elderly, at thirty-five, just older than Marianne’s seventeen years – but he is deeper, wiser and his love for Marianne far more constant than the pretty playboy. So what if he will be a father figure as well as a lover to her – a calmer, more mature Marianne will need both companion and suitor to keep her happy.

‘Willoughby was nothing but a tawdry tale bound in gilt and leather, whereas you, dear Colonel, have in you the poetry of Shakespeare, though your cover is not so fine.’

Colonel James Brandon – he doesn’t even merit a first name in Austen’s story! – is worth waiting for. For the many other readers who, like me, fell for him in ‘Sense and Sensibility’, but felt cheated out of his company, ‘Colonel Brandon’s Diary’ is the perfect complement to the original novel. Tempted by the recounting Brandon gives to Elinor of his tragic love affair, and the contrast of a once lively and loving youth with the older, heartbroken man he becomes, Amanda Grange obviously had to bring this ‘good man’ to life. And such is the author’s familiarity and expertise with Austen’s characters, in her dialogue and descriptions, that she can employ them expertly in her own version. Mrs Jennings is just as funny, but Miss Grange also adds her own wit in the form of Brandon’s Wodehousian aunt and Eliza’s landlady (‘And then she said, “Maybe he’s got the smallpox,” but as I said to her, “I hope it’s not the smallpox. Just think of my sheets,” so then she said he probably dropped off his horse, as gentlemen have a habit of doing.’)

Whereas Austen also makes me laugh, however, only Amanda Grange’s take on the story really touched my heart, or made me *sigh* with feeling. Reading this novel, which I absorbed in one day and will no doubt return to soon, I was struck with the realisation that Austen left the best scenes out of her book! Brandon’s angry confrontation with his dissolute brother, his beloved Eliza’s death and the tender love he has for her daughter, only to find that Willoughby has broken her heart and ruined her. The duel they fight, which is passed over in a line in ‘Sense and Sensibility’, is all the more dramatic when experienced from the Colonel’s point of view. His judgement sharpened by concern for Marianne – and perhaps a touch of jealousy – Brandon is able to see through the young pretender from the start: ‘he is all surface, with nothing underneath’. Willoughby’s heartless treatment of both young Eliza and Marianne leaves him seething with rage, and the reader can only sympathise (and wish him good aim!)

The story starts in 1778, with Brandon studying at Oxford and returning to Delaford only to learn that his father has promised Eliza to his elder brother, and opens his diary and his heart to the reader through disappointment, travel abroad, a change of fortune, grief, and hope, to his marriage with Marianne in 1798. Grange captures his voice and inner thoughts so well, growing older and darker with experience, but also makes Marianne an appealing and (more importantly) willing match. The Colonel sees and admires in her the same qualities that make her my favourite Dashwood sister, who is ‘as honest and open as the day’ with her opinion. And whereas Austen’s last word on their union is rather depressing, almost forcing Marianne to marry him for his money, Grange gives Marianne a rousing speech bidding ‘adieu’, once and for all, to Willoughby (‘And for whom did I almost die? A man who did not deserve my love’) and shows her growing love and admiration, long overdue, for Colonel Brandon. The final scenes are so intimate and touching that I have now officially substituted Austen’s hurried summary for Amanda Grange’s thoughtful and lingering courtship:

‘You have loved and suffered, and yet it has not made you bitter, for you have the courage to love again. It is you who are the figure out of romance.’

Colonel Brandon and Marianne have both loved and lost, which is ironic for her – who proclaimed that she did not believe in second attachments – but makes them right for each other. Bringing them together slowly and with patience, instead of pushing them together in the last paragraph, is the difference between a May to December arranged marriage and one of the sweetest literary romances I have ever read. And the difference between Jane Austen and Amanda Grange. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Sep 3, 2010 |
The story is not new - anyone who has read Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is familiar with the romantic but reserved Colonel Brandon. In Colonel Brandon's Diary Amanda Grange has taken our hero and fleshed out past for the reader, making him an even more charming and sympathetic character than he was in Sense and Sensibility.

Of all the Austen novels Sense and Sensibility is my favorite! I was extremely happy with Grange's take on Colonel Brandon's life. She filled in the blanks beautifully and created a seamless story. I loved seeing the events of Sense and Sensibility through Colonel Brandon's eyes. Amanda Grange has given the Colonel a unique voice while staying true to the original. Colonel Brandon's Diary is a wonderful look into the heart and soul of one of Austen's best-loved characters. ( )
  susanbevans | Jun 23, 2010 |
I loved Amanda Grange's other Austen retells, and this was no exception. I'm glad she chose to write from Colonel Brandon's point-of-view, rather than Edward's, because 1) I think Brandon's back story is more interesting, and 2) I really, really enjoyed picturing Alan Rickman as Brandon while I was reading it. (Yes, yes, I know: "He's too old to be Brandon!" I don't care. It's ALAN RICKMAN.)

The story begins when Brandon is a student at Oxford; he reveals his feelings for Eliza, their plans to elope, and the tragic end to their affair. It also covers Brandon's time in India and his military (naval?) career, his relationship with Eliza's daughter (also called Eliza), his friendship with Sir John, and his eventual introduction to the Dashwoods, culminating in the requisite happy ending. I liked the first half of the novel more than the second, I think. It's nice to read such a fleshed-out story about a situation that was mentioned briefly in Sense and Sensibility - it's very similar to what Grange was able to do with the Wentworth/Anne backstory in her retelling of Persuasion. It also sets Brandon up as a big ol' romantic, something that helps make his attention to Marianne more realistic. That's the main reason I really enjoyed this book: the idea of impulsive, wild Marianne settling down with prim and proper Brandon always seemed a bit strange to me. Some of their interaction in the back half of the novel seems a bit off (a sure sign it's time for a re-read of S&S), and Grange's characterization of Brandon (a reciter of poetry and part-time matchmaker!) is...maybe not exactly how I pictured him, but it works. ( )
1 vote jessidee | Jul 17, 2009 |
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At the age of eighteen, James Brandon's world is shattered when the girl he loves, Eliza, is forced to marry his brother. In despair, he joins the army and leaves England for the East Indies for the next several years. Upon his return, he finds Eliza in a debtor's prison. He rescues her from her terrible situation, but she is dying of consumption and he can do nothing but watch and wait. Heartbroken at her death, he takes some consolation in her illegitimate daughter, who he raises as his ward. But at the age of fifteen, his ward goes missing. Devastated by the thought of what could have happened to her, he is surprised to find himself falling in love with Marianne Dashwood. But Marianne is falling in love with the charismatic Willoughby.… (more)

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