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REVIEW: A Little Folly by Jude Morgan

Dear Mr. Morgan,

I haven’t read many Regency era books lately. Whenever I’ve looked at new releases, I’ve almost immediately been put off of them for some reason, often before I’ve even finished the blurb. Usually it’s some bizarre plot set up or mistorical aspect which promises to make me cringe if I should ignore my initial instincts and wade into it anyway. “A Little Folly,” though, has restored my faith. Not only did it seem almost entirely rational and period in feel, but I finished it so happy with the subgenre that it makes me want to rush right out and read another historical romance rather than cleansing my palate with another subgenre as I usually do.

A-Little-FollyThe plot is simple on first glance but reveals its layers as the book progresses. There is no secret-decoder-ring-wearing club of noblemen with silly names who have sworn off marriage. The story hasn’t any noblemen spies working for the government against Napoleon. Valentine’s and Louisa’s father might make Joan Crawford look like a shoo-in for parent of the year but that’s all. Instead of the usual dreck which sends me screaming there is the story of a brother and sister, brought up by a (recently deceased) overbearing father who now find themselves free to live. They aren’t just free to do what they want but are free to think as they wish without the need to conceal their thoughts and feelings from their father and to finally take part in society – both locally and in London.

Louisa can reject the cold, controlled neighbor whom her father wished her to marry and Valentine can take his place as the master of the snug estate left to him. They can also renew ties with the cousins on their deceased mother’s side whom their father forbade them to know. Soon, the two are headed to London to stay with their cousins and drink deeply from the cup of ton life. But will they discover too late where their love and happiness truly lie?

The arc that I got from Jane has a quote on the front cover that likens the story to Austen and Heyer. “Really,” I thought. “What modern Regency era books don’t try and associate themselves with either or both of those authors down to stealing characters and plots wholesale?” Still, there seemed to be good reviews of your books out there and I’m willing to try a book for a few chapters. After I’d finished said few chapters I thought, “Say, I don’t think those comparisons are too far off. And I’m not cringing yet!” Though I hesitate to tell readers that “If you love Austen/Heyer you’ll love this” I don’t mind saying “give it a shot.” The language doesn’t scream 21st century, the characters don’t fall into bed with anyone at the drop of a hat and the plot twists involved situations that just might have actually have been of concern to Regency people. I could catch little glimpses of things from the aforementioned authors but shifted slightly and given a new (but still period) spin. The nod to ‘The Greats’ exist but it’s not slavish, derivative fawning but rather taking them as inspiration.

The pace of the story is slower which is in tune with a world centered on the social niceties of calling cards, note writing and the attention to manners which marked a well bred person of the day. These people are rarely in a hurry and I felt myself settle down to enjoy the leisurely pace of their lives and interactions. I’ve read countless Regency books and have heard and noted all the facts about Almacks, period dress, slang, the Peninsular Wars and Wellington. A few are scattered around in the book but they feel germane rather than laid on with a trowel. I enjoyed the sly dig at too much slang in the silly character “The Top” whom Louisa and a friend from home secretly find ridiculous. There’s also no mention of watered down lemonade though some of the festivities which celebrated the defeat of Napoleon and those demmed Frenchies are attended by our characters.

There is an elopement in the book but unlike “Pride and Prejudice” it’s actually another period route to social ruin which threatens here and calls for timely intervention on behalf of one who loves from afar. Just as in an Austen novel, there are romantic feints and false starts among the cast and Louisa must wait until nearly the end of the story to get her romance but when it finally arrives and declares itself, I sighed with happiness and chuckled at her hero’s sense of humor and sense of the absurd. The two of them, and indeed all the couples, are well matched though some are perhaps not looking for nor will they probably be rewarded with wedded bliss.

I finished the book with nary an eye roll or groan of disbelief. Valentine and Louisa became real people to me with faults and follies to go with their ultimate growth in character and understanding. I didn’t feel that you were trying to cram modern characters with modern sensibilities into a past era. Readers looking for a lot of action and running around might not care for the story but those seeking a more character driven book which focuses a lot on the manners and observational habits of the day should check it out. B

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

22 Comments

  1. tangodiva
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 08:15:11

    Looking up Jude Morgan, she appears to have quite a backlist of titles, most literary fiction including an interesting book, “Charlotte and Emily,” about the Bronte sisters. I’m intrigued.

  2. Carrie G
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:04:23

    I clicked on the link for the book on Amazon and was shocked at the price. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but $12.99 for the ebook is too steep for me. Maybe my library will get it…..

  3. Jayne
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:14:40

    @tangodiva: The reviews for her older books appear to be fairly positive though @Carrie G: at those prices, I’d want the opinion of someone I trust before taking the plunge.

  4. Jen Black
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:17:02

    Isn’t this Jude Morgan a man? His other works are Indiscretion, Symphony, A Touch of Passion….if you liked A little Folly, you’ll love Indiscretion.

  5. Laura Vivanco
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:20:04

    This is probably irrelevant but when I saw that you’d addressed Jude Morgan as “Ms” I was reminded that the author is a man.

    [Edited to add: I see that Jen got in before me. There's more information about him here.]

  6. Isobel Carr
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:28:14

    I was sold until I saw the price. $12.99 for an eBooks is a deal breaker unless the author is an autobuy.

  7. Jayne
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:33:24

    @Jen Black: Thanks for the rec and @Laura Vivanco: for the correction.

  8. Carrie G
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:43:32

    @Jayne: I did see that my library has several books by this author already, so I’ll try one of those first. I put in a request for the library to buy a copy of the new book. Our library system is unusually good about trying to buy books suggested by patrons, especially if the library already has copies of the author’s earlier works.

  9. Elaine
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:56:31

    I only have one auto-buy author at that e-book price. Happily, my library has this on order.

  10. Laura Vivanco
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 09:58:57

    @Carrie G: Indiscretion would be a good comparison, if they’ve got that. [Here's a review.] That one’s similar in tone to this one and can also be classified as a romance, whereas quite a few of his others are historical fiction.

  11. Ros
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:01:08

    I had very similar feelings when I first read Jude Morgan a few years ago. Finally, someone who gets it! I also enjoyed An Accomplished Woman very much.

  12. Jayne
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:18:30

    @Carrie G: @Elaine: I take this opportunity to heap laud and praise on public libraries!

  13. Carrie G
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:19:03

    @Laura Vivanco: Thanks for the suggestion and the link to the review! My library does have Indiscretion so I’ll definitely give it a try!

    ETA: Yes, Jayne, we’re so fortunate to have a good public library system in our county. Here in the
    “Triangle” in NC, Durham is looked upon as the poor relation sometimes, but our library system puts those in the adjoining counties to shame. Plus we have Jennifer Lohmann!

  14. GrowlyCub
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:31:45

    @Carrie G: I hope you succeed. I tried to get my library to buy but was told they (e-copies) were not available to libraries. Major bummer, as this sounds totally up my alley.

  15. GrowlyCub
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:47:51

    @Laura Vivanco:

    Could you list which one you feel are romances as opposed to hist fic? Thanks!

  16. Laura Vivanco
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 13:02:21

    @GrowlyCub: I’d only come across Indiscretion and A Little Folly and then I picked up Symphony and it turned out it was “about the composer Hector Belioz”. When I flicked to the end, the love story in it didn’t appear to be ending happily. So I looked around a bit online and judging by the description, his An Accomplished Woman seems as though it could be another romance.

    The rest seem to me to be historical fiction: The Taste of Sorrow (which I think may have been published with an alternative title of Charlotte and Emily) is about the Brontës, The King’s Touch tells the story of Charles II “through the eyes of his illegitimate son, James, Duke of Monmouth”, Passion “brings the world of Keats, Byron and Shelley to life” and The Secret Life of William Shakespeare is, obviously, about Shakespeare.

  17. Jeff Rivera
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 17:13:24

    Nice review, this book looks really good and worthy to check out. I look forward to more posts from you, thank you.

  18. willaful
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 21:24:56

    I very much enjoyed the Morgan I read — probably Indiscretion. Luckily, since he’s a male author, this counts as literature not romance so my library might actually buy it. [/bitterness]

  19. Susan
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 23:42:12

    I have one (unread, so far) Morgan book in my TBR pile, but I have a number of others on my wish list waiting for them to either become available as ebooks or for the prices to come down. Grrr. Holding firm.

  20. carmen webster buxton
    Mar 14, 2013 @ 08:05:04

    Weird! One of the reviews specifies that it is for the Kindle edition, and there is a price (too high!) for the Kindle edition, but there is no link to buy it on Kindle, or to get a free sample of it! It says it’s not currently for sale.

  21. Janet Mullany
    Mar 14, 2013 @ 18:39:40

    I don’t think this is Morgan’s strongest book (I’d vote for Indiscretion every time) but heck, it’s Jude Morgan and it’s brilliant.

  22. James
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 19:47:40

    Hi,

    Having read every Jude Morgan book, under different pseudonyms too, I can recommend anything he writes.

    I’m crying out for one of his historicals to be made into a BBC drama!

    Miss out on any of his books at your own peril!

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