Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits (2013) by Mary Jane Hathaway is the first book in the Jane Austen Takes the South series. The novel comes in all forms including eBook, and is 352 pages in length. With a full-time job and a precocious five-year old at home, this novel took me less than 24 hours to read (because it is SO much fun!). I give this novel 5+ STARS. This book is a Contemporary Christian Romance.
I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book! I think it a very sweet, fresh, modern take on Austen's amazing novel, Pride and Prejudice. Do not be fooled by the sort-of low rating on GoodReads. This book is well worth the read.
Shelby Roswell is the main character, and the narration is 98% told through her point of view. She is a wonderfully written character: she is feisty, intelligent, funny, slightly geeky, and a woman who tries desperately to seek after God's heart. She speaks truth no matter the cost, and this does burn her several times. And, she truly tries to do the right thing in every situation. There is a moment towards the end of the novel where she discusses forgiveness with Ransom. It is one of my most favorite chapters in the novel, and a great reminder that we will never truly find God's peace if we are adamant to hold on to hurt and griefs and shame. God forgives and forgets, and we need to do the same! I really loved Shelby. To me, she is a genuine, believable character and I enjoyed watching her story play out!
The opening scene where Shelby meets "Mr. Darcy" face to face is brilliantly written! Let me set the stage; I promise, no spoilers. Shelby is an assistant professor at a small Southern college called Midlands. Specifically, she is an American Civil War historian. Shelby has recently published a 56-chapter tome on the Civil War. College is a dog-eat-dog world of publish or perish. Colleges establish their reputations based on the prestige of professors who write well-reviewed texts. So, when the leading Civil War historian writes a scathing review of Shelby's latest work, she is angry, hurt, and ready to fight! And, this leads to chapter one where Shelby and Mr. Darcy, I mean Ransom Fielding, meet for the first time. Sparks definitely fly!!! What ensues is hilarious, and really captured my reading interest. I just had to see how it would all play out.
Ransom Fielding is a really great character. His version of Mr. Darcy is very well played. Ransom is a widower. His wife was killed in a car accident six years prior to this novel. A year prior to the accident, he and his wife had a miscarriage and lost their baby. He has sworn never to date anyone who could lead to a real relationship because he never wants to be so hurt ever again. He is also extremely angry at God for allowing all this needless pain to happen. When he meets Shelby for the first time, a real, faith-filled woman of substance, he knows he is in trouble. At first, he tries everything in his power to be standoffish and ignore her. But, this proves hard to do as he is incredibly drawn to her. Ransom is a great hero. He is intelligent, handsome, wounded, and prideful. He is exactly the kind of character women swoon over. He definitely reminded me of a Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester, but not overtly so. He is definitely his own character just as much as Shelby is.
I had never heard of Mary Jane Hathaway before, and I had no knowledge of any of her books. I just happened to see the cover to this book on the sale page at ChristianBook.com. According to her GoodReads page, Mary Jane Hathaway is the pen name of an award-nominated writer who spends the majority of her literary energy on subjects unrelated to Jane Austen. She is a homeschooling mother to her six young children who rarely wear shoes, and she's madly in love with a man who has never read Pride and Prejudice. She holds degrees in Religious Studies and Theoretical Linguistics, and has a Jane Austen quote on the back of her van. She can be reached on Facebook at "Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits" or her regular author page of Virginia Carmichael (which is another pen name, because she's just that cool). I am very glad that I found this author and plan to read more of her works!
Brilliant and funny and whimsical with some deep-rooted truths thrown in. I was completely captivated.
I love Shelby and all her foibles, especially her penchant for inserting her foot in her mouth. She's always spoiling for a fight but that's only because of her passionate drive to fight injustice wherever she finds it. She's vibrant and alive and relatable.
Ransom -- adore the name by the way. He's like a slumbering giant who is jarred awake by the fiery Shelby. Rousing to life again makes him awkward and 'growly' though. So fun to watch the two battle wills and numerous misunderstandings that often lead to laugh-out-loud one liners too good to miss.
A light-hearted and touching nod to Austen's classic Pride and Justice.
A beautiful story! I loved the development of the characters and the spiritual thread running through the story. I also loved the humorous moments. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits truly is a delightful contemporary Jane Austen romp type of story which follows loosely the storyline of Pride and Prejudice while also throwing in the delightful charm of the south, thus where the cheese grits fit it. The novel opens ,as any good Pride and Prejudice based novel should, with a scene where the main character , in this case Shelby Roswell, a Civil War historian and professor, crossing swords with a visiting professor named Ransom Fielding, who also happens to be the one who gave her book a scathing and damaging review. As she enters his classroom and creates quite a stir, she also leaves quite an impression on Ransom. I can't possibly give you the details here as I wouldn't want to spoil it for you, but I will say that in Elizabeth Bennett fashion she dresses him down a bit and had me the reader laughing out loud. Poor Mr. Darcy, uh_Mr Fielding.
With that rough start the two main characters aren't very fond of each other at first, and with Shelby ,working hard to earn her tenure at her small college named Midlands located in Mississippi is finding that her college's administration have determined it quite an accomplishment to have landed the prestigious Ransom Fielding straight from Yale to come in for a guest professorship and will basically move heaven and earth to keep him happy. When the two of them do not get along, they make it very clear that they will come down on Ransome's side of any argument, which means she may be kissing her long sought after tenure" Goodbye". But just as Darcy against his will becomes taken with Elizabeth, so does Ransom with Shelby. Despite her many social "faux pas', he somehow falls for her. I found Ransom's backstory to be touching as he is recovering from losing his wife and so he is leaving his Ivy league Academia to come to this small college near his hometown to recover a bit and ends up meeting Shelby and so his journey to seek out peace and quiet is a bit sidelined as she is anything but that .
For true Jane Austen fans, this isn't an exact replication of the story Pride and Prejudice in a contemporary setting, as certain characters are morphed into one- e.g- the Mr Collins and Mr, Wickham character become one to make up the "bad guy" of the story, and there isn't a whole lot of emphasis on Shelby's siblings and their stories, but as I was engaged in this story, it didn't matter to me as I enjoyed this storyline and where the author took these characters. The character of Shelby certainly had plenty of "Elizabeth Bennett" spunk as well as a bit more thrown in for good measure as her mouth so often got her into trouble whenever she was in social situations- very cringe-worthy at times- but I have to say that just led me to really loving the character of Shelby even more. Just as in Pride and Prejudice, Shelby and Ransom butt heads a lot initially and their pride and their prejudice keep them from each other, but as the story unfolds and they understand where each other are coming from, their relationship starts to develop.
This was an enjoyable read for me and I am so happy to see that there is a series here with Emma, Mr Knightley and Chili Slaw dogs on deck. If it follows the same vein as Pride,Prejudice and Cheese Grits, then it will definitely be a winner. Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits delivers, faith love and fun all rolled up into one great book with some good old fashion Southern charm thrown in as well.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
I'm not sure which I liked more about this book, that it is Southern fiction or that it is a modern retelling of one of my favorite Jane Austen novels. This book is filled with all the interesting yet quirky characters that we expect in a great Southern novel. There's the beloved aunt, the overbearing momma, the overindulged sisters and the very patient and highly supportive daddy. Oh and don't forget the friends and the frienemies. They truly make the story.
The setting is a beautiful small town Southern college. Shelby is on the tenure track and trying to publish several articles about Civil War history in order to cement her position. Unfortunately her latest article received a scathing review from the renowned historian Ransom Fielding. And if that isn't bad enough, now Ransom has invaded her territory by taking a one year position with her college.
Shelby loathes Ransom but unfortunately her oath to avoid him at all costs is quickly cast aside. In fact the headstrong Shelby makes quite a first impression . . . but so does Ransom. He is definitely Mr. Darcy in spades. He looks good, he smells good, and to top it off he's actually a nice guy. But if you are up on your Pride and Prejudice facts you know that there is a BIG misunderstanding that makes Ransom totally off limits.
The ride through all the misunderstandings is definitely a pleasure trip. The food alone is worth the read. (Recipes included in the back of the book!) One of my favorite things was the quotes from Pride and Prejudice at the beginning of each chapter. It was such an added treat that set the stage for each scene.
So . . . if you love Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy or even if you haven't a clue as to who he is but want a light funny romance pick this book up! It's the perfect complement to a tall glass of sweet iced tea on your front porch swing.
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.