Colonel Brandon’s Diary
By: Amanda Grange
Format/Source: eBook; my copy
At the age of 18, James Brandon’s life is set fair. He is in love with his father’s ward, Eliza, and he is looking forward to a lifetime of happiness with her. But his world is shattered when Eliza is forced to marry his brother and James joins the army in despair. Returning to England, Brandon finds Eliza in a debtors’ prison. He rescues her from her terrible position, but she is dying of consumption and he can do nothing but watch and wait. Heartbroken at her death, he takes some consolation from her illegitimate daughter, whom he raises as his ward. But at the age of 15, the young Eliza goes missing. Oppressed by the thought of what could have happened to her, he is surprised to find himself falling in love with Marianne Dashwood–but Marianne is falling in love with Willoughby.
I’ve mentioned it before but Sense & Sensibility (review) is actually my second favourite Jane Austen novel. I love the story and the characters and the themes that it tackles, as well as the 1995 and 2008 adaptations of the story 🙂 So I suppose it was high time that I got around to Amanda Grange’s diary on Colonel Brandon 😉
I think it’s official: I am in love with Colonel James Brandon 😛 Yes, I have a soft spot for Captain Wentworth and his heart-on-his-sleeve, and of course Mr. Henry Tilney and I would get along smashingly chatting about books and other references and he’d make me laugh with his cheeky sense of humour, but this book made me love Colonel Brandon. I knew he was a solid guy in S&S but omg here he is a precious cupcake that deserves all the goodness and happiness life can give him. Because he (and Elinor) went through a lot in S&S, him more so with the events beforehand.
The first quarter of the novel was absolutely heartbreaking as it recounts James’ tragic relationship with Eliza and the events that tore them apart. Ugh, James’ family (notice that I keep calling him James; throughout S&S it was always Colonel Brandon, so I guess this is just me getting used to his first name 😛 ) family is the worst: his father cares only for networking and riches and his brother has all of the roguish qualities minus the charm. I felt so bad for James and Eliza, they were really in love, and James was such a romantic then, not to mention very studious. So to read as they are torn apart by circumstances was hard, and then following James as he entered the army, and then returned home to find Eliza ill and dying 🙁 That broke my heart, but how he took care of little Eliza afterwards was so sweet.
This book really expanded on his character, but in a way that is still very much rooted in the Colonel Brandon we’ve come to know in S&S. Lots of things obviously happen to him throughout S&S, but it was interesting to read events from his perspective, the people who piqued his interest and his opinion of them, the division of his focus between his growing attachment to Marianne (however hopeless he thought his suite was) and his concern for his ward Eliza. But he’s such a good and solid guy all throughout, supporting Eliza after Willoughby’s abandonment of her and supporting the Dashwoods in any way he could. And as Marianne later points out, it’s amazing how he managed to get through his earlier heartbreak and still be the romantic that he is. He absolutely deserves all the happiness that came his way *hearts and stars* 🙂
Oh, and just to burst my heart even more over him, there’s lines like this:
I left the room, and as I went downstairs I did not recognise myself in the mirror, for I looked so different. I wondered what the difference was and then I saw that I was smiling.
Oh, James Brandon, you precious cupcake, you 😛
Also, you may have seen my post on Instagram but I was rooting for James big time when he confronted Willougby about Eliza and calling the duel. You go, boy! 😀
Gah, I don’t know what else to say about this book except that it was absolutely delightful and really does a wonderful job in expanding the characters and what they were doing in and around the events of S&S without either becoming a carbon copy of the novel or going absolutely off on a tangent and the characters becoming OTT. I don’t know if it was possible but it made me love the characters even more. Colonel Brandon’s Diary I think is officially my second favourite diary by Amanda Grange after Captain Wentworth’s Diary (review). Highly recommended!