As mentioned in my review of Book One, So Rough A Course, I was concerned that Book Two, So Lively A Chase, wouldn't live up to my expectations. While I wasn't quite as entranced with this book as I was with the first, I think that can mostly be attributed to my very high expectations. I certainly was not disappointed. My only complaint is that as I read both of these books in less than an afternoon, it seems rather unfair to have split the story into three volumes (especially as they only number about 200 pages each and sport the outrageous price tag $14.50 a pop). While such a scheme undoubtedly will generate more money for Ms. Hile, it has left me in the rather uncomfortable position of forking out nearly $45 (plus shipping) for a single days worth of reading material. Oh well. As she has me hooked, I have little choice but to submit to this outrageous cost.
In this book Elizabeth Elliot is no longer the frivolous, carefree creature Austen created but a lady facing the most difficult trials of her life - her independence infringed upon, her debts overwhelming, and her self-identity under severe strain. While she suffers and Admiral McGillvary, the hero of our tale, works to assist her while maintaining a false identity (contrived in Book One), Sir Walter and Lady Russell, in an attempt to extricate the gentleman from his increasingly impecunious situation, embark on an outrageous adventure. Mr. Elliot continues to connive, Charles and Mary Musgrove approach a dangerous dilemma in their relationship, and poor Anne and Wentworth seem destined to be caught in the middle of all this Elliot family drama.
The funniest moment in this volume is supplied by Sir Walter. When I first read this passage I was rather disturbed by the implications, but upon reading the footnote (transcribed below) I laughed as hard as I have at any book in quite sometime, possibly years:
Sir Walter continued to talk. "The face is the first to show the effects of age-it grows lank and wrinkled. The neck succumbs next and then the breast and arms. You might not realize this, but I have read extensively on the subject," he explained. "It is known as the Deficiency of the Fluids. It appears first in the highest parts. But the lowest part," he said more brightly, "that is to say, those below the waist, continue as plump and fresh as ever! Indeed, in those areas it is quite impossible to tell a young woman from an old one!"From everything I have heard about Benjamin Franklin, he would have known! This is about as raunchy as I ever intend to be on this blog and I apologize if I have offended anyone's sensibilities. Be assured that the topic of the above quote is not demonstrative of the content in the rest of these books, thus far. However, it is hilarious, is it not?
Note: Sir Walter is indebted to Benjamin Franklin for his theory regarding the Deficiency of the Fluids (Advise on the Choice of a Mistress, 1745).
If a kind reader out there has any information regarding the release of Book Three, I would be very grateful if you would share it. In the meantime, I'm tempted to reread the first two volumes again. Well done Ms. Hile!