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Book Review: Suit and Suitability

Suit and Suitabilit by Kelsey Bryant (5 star review)

Suit and Suitability
Vintage Jane Austen series

written by Kelsey Bryant

364 pages // published in 2017 // Christian historical fiction


The mystery surrounding their father’s criminal accusations is almost as hard to solve as the many puzzles springing on their hearts.

Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?

My Review

5 Star Rating

A review from a bookworm who's (accidentally) never read an original Jane Austen (oops!) .… but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy a historical fiction novel based on Austen's books!

To start this review off, I'd like to say that the writing style is really good. I felt liked I'd just been dropped off in Canton, Ohio in the early 30s. The descriptions of the setting felt so real. Elements of the time period are weaved in so neatly. In the way that the characters talk, certain old words they use, it's just perfectly vintage.

“...That may tie me up and you'll never hear a peep out of me except when I can remember to send a telegram with one word– no, three: 'Alive STOP M.'
- Marion Dashiell

The characters show true growth; I like that in the book. Each one of the Dashiell sisters changes over time. I also loved how the girls really looked out for each other and their family. In one scene, Ellen was alone, praying for the needs of each of her family members; that scene struck me as charming and wonderful, and has since been on my mind.

Faith plays a big part of the story, and there are some excellent Christian qualities to be found in the characters. You may not always notice while you're reading, but sometimes it's clearly there, and overall, the novel has a spiritual message in it.

“With God there is always hope.”
- Calvin Bradley

The romances are sweet. But each one comes with its individual complications. Potential suitors seem to abound everywhere, as does heartache. This isn't light fiction. The story is based on a classic, and for good reason. There's a whole gamut of emotions that shines through in Suit and Suitability.

One difference (I believe) when comparing Sense and Sensibility and Suit and Suitability, is in the fate of the Dashiell's father. I may be speaking out of turn a bit (not having reading the original Austen novel yet). But I like the fact that since this retelling is taking place in the 30s, the author took advantage of the time period of classic detective novels and spiced up her own plot with an era-authentic twist. Pretty ingenious, I think.

“I have to get to know her, too, don't forget, and I get acquainted with people at the speed of molasses.”
- Ellen Dashiell

And – oh! I loved, adored, and cherished Sport. He's a dog of the Dashiell's relatives, and deserves a little mention here. I love how the author always included fun little tidbits about Sport in various scenes.

This is a clean read. I could wholeheartedly recommend it to any Austen fan, young or old (and even to other Austen fan wannabes, like myself!).

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Read my review for other books in the series: Emmeline.

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