Review & Giveaway: The Gypsy Blessing

Jan 27, 2014 by

The Gypsy Blessing by Wendi Sotis is an intriguing variation on Pride and Prejudice that asks the reader to imagine what Austen’s novel would be like if events had been just a little bit different.

Here’s the description:

While taking a solitary ramble on her father’s estate, Elizabeth Bennet finds an injured woman, cares for her, and helps her return to her gypsy camp. For her exceptional kindness, Elizabeth is awarded a blessing, bestowed through gypsy magic.

Forgetting the incident, Elizabeth thinks it merely odd when she begins to receive drawings in the mail with no return address—until she recognizes these same scenes as they become true events in her life. Through the blessing, circumstances bring Elizabeth and Jane Bennet to Ramsgate, where they meet Georgiana and Fitzwilliam Darcy, along with a charming young man named George Wickham.

Will Elizabeth’s efforts to reshape future events alter her destiny?

 

 

Sotis has now written a number of variations on Pride and Prejudice, all of which ask us as readers to imagine “what if” scenarios. The Gypsy Blessing continues this trend and asks us to imagine that Elizabeth Bennet, because of an encounter in which she aids a gypsy family, is blessed with glimpses into the future.

The story begins when Elizabeth comes upon an injured woman in the woods. She tries to help the woman and, in the process, discovers that she is a gypsy and her family is nearby. The family is grateful to Elizabeth for her help and insists on giving her a pendant that they say will bring her blessings. She accepts the token and thinks nothing of it. Until a year later when a strange drawings start arriving even when the daily post has not yet come.

At first, Elizabeth thinks it is her aunt sending her the drawings, which depict very intimate family scenes that no one but a family member could know. But then Elizabeth realizes that the scenes in the drawings have not happened yet. She watches as each of the scenes that have been sent play out. However, she doesn’t know quite what to do with this knowledge.

But then a crisis comes: Elizabeth’s dearest friend Charlotte Lucas is inadvertently poisoned. Elizabeth has received a drawing of a plant she recognizes from her rambles. Putting two and two together, Elizabeth saves her friend by finding the plant that remedies Charlotte’s illness.

After that, Elizabeth begins to pay very close attention to the drawings. In them she sees scenes that both startle and delight her. She sees happiness for herself and her sister, but trials for others… including trials for a girl she’s not yet met.

Sotis does a great job of building out the world in this book. She takes what is familiar about Pride and Prejudice and twists it just enough that it feels fresh. One of the most charming aspects to the book is the friendship that arises between Elizabeth and Georgiana Darcy, who turns out to be the girl that Elizabeth sees in her drawings. The two become dear friends, something that is only hinted at in Austen. Through the friendship, it becomes Elizabeth who is able to avert the danger for her new friend and then nurse Georgiana through a broken heart.

And while this is happening, Mr. Darcy watches his beloved younger sister fall in love with her new friend, just as he finds himself doing. This is my one kvetch with the book: Sometimes the development between Lizzy and Darcy relied too heavily on what we already know – that they will resist each other but eventually get together – and felt a little hurried. I wanted to see more about how exactly they fell in love in this new scenario. Here it’s “love at first sight” that only deepens as they get to know each other. There are no real impediments to their marriage. Though Darcy halfheartedly reasons to himself that people will “talk,” one short conversation with Colonel Fitzwilliam does away with these qualms.

But this qualm is assuaged by the excellent way that Sotis deepens what we know of Wickham. Here he becomes a true villain, only missing a set of fantastic mustachios to twirl while he swishes around in a cape. I liked that this storyline gives us real insight into why Wickham acts the way he does toward the Darcy family. And here there is an even more dastardly plan than just running off with Georgiana.

As in its exemplar Pride and Prejudice, everything comes out alright in the end. We get our love story and we get some adventure. And we also get the promise that there is more, as Sotis adds an epilogue that mentions a modern many-times-great-granddaughter who just might also receive a gypsy blessing. I look forward to reading it.

4 out of 5 Longing Looks Between Darcy and Elizabeth

*****

Wendi Sotis

 

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10 Comments

  1. Vesper Meikle

    I like these glimpses into the future – it is certainly a new idea for Elizabeth to receive them. Hopefully she is wise in the use of them.

  2. I am glad with this story. I read it in Jaff, and I love it. I am following its sequel, and It already has hooked me.

  3. Sophia Rose

    Pair the paranormal to a classic romance is intriguing. It gives whole new meaning to ‘what if’. I like the idea of Lizzy and Georgiana forming a friendship and I look forward to seeing what a truly wickedly motivated Wickham can do.

    Thanks for sharing your review thoughts and for the giveaway opportunity.

  4. I like the new twist to this story especially the part where Elizabeth saves Georgiana from Wickham’s deceit. I wonder whether she knows that Darcy will be her husband. It could be that the drawings are selective and it’s up to her to interpret her own love story.

    I’m international so it’ll be the e-book if I win.

  5. Ceri

    I love it when somebody comes up with a new angle for a variation. I look forward to reading this.

  6. Patty Marq

    This sounds so interesting!

  7. tgruy

    I want it!!!

  8. Thanks to Kimberly for the review and to Indie Jane for hosting the giveaway!

    Good luck, everyone :-)

  9. BeckyC

    I love all things Austen and enjoy coming across unique twists. Thank you for the giveaway.

  10. Deborah

    I’ve enjoyed all your books. I have purchased gypsy blessing but am behind on my reading so I will be reading it soon

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