Sense and Sensibility ," Rushton's (the Fab Five series) contemporary English romance borrows nume"/>
 

THE DASHWOOD SISTERS' SECRETS OF LOVE

Rosie Rushton, Author, Rosie Rushton, Illustrator
Rosie Rushton, Author, Rosie Rushton, Illustrator . Hyperion $15.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7868-5136-2
Paperback - 325 pages - 978-0-7868-5137-9
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Billed as a "modern-day homage to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility ," Rushton's (the Fab Five series) contemporary English romance borrows numerous plot elements from the earlier novel, but makes little attempt to mimic its slyly humorous characterizations. Still, readers will enjoy tracking the fortunes of the three Dashwood sisters as they adjust to a new life and sort out the boyfriend situation to their liking. When their father dies, sisters Ellie, Abby and Georgia discover that they can no longer reside in Holly House, the family's ancestral home on the outskirts of Brighton, because he bequeathed it to his second wife, the shrill Pandora. Luckily, the girls' mother is offered a rent-free cottage in remote Norfolk, to which the family repairs. Steady Ellie, the eldest sister, carries on a long-distance friendship (that hovers frustratingly on the brink of turning romantic) with Pandora's sweet and dishy nephew Blake, who is revealed to be trapped in a relationship with scheming Lucy. Meanwhile, middle sister Abby tries to maintain the affections of a dazzling but caddish new beau while orchestrating (in a twist that seems borrowed from Austen's novel Emma ) a romance between a lumpish new friend and the hottie who plays in a local band. Though some awkward bits of writing ("She ran across the gravel drive toward the garage, her ample breasts bobbing up and down in alarm"), cause the occasional narrative hiccup, the pace is mostly brisk in this bright-eyed tale. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

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