Review: 'Who Needs Mr Willoughby' by Katie Oliver (2016)
What should rule - your head, or your heart?
When sisters Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are forced to leave their family home to live in a rural Northumberland cottage, Marianne is convinced her social life is over. Somehow, she can’t see kitten heels coping well in the countryside – and being stuck in the middle of nowhere, miles from London, sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry. Not to mention her arrogant new boss, Dr Brandon, who doesn’t seem to think much of her city ways.
When she meets the gallant, charming and handsome Mr Willoughby, Marianne begins to think that country life might not be so bad after all…especially when he suggests that marriage might be on the cards. But the countryside still has a few tricks up its sleeve for Marianne…after all, love rarely turns blossoms in the most convenient places!
On the 24th of March the third part of Katie Oliver's latest book series, The Jane Austen Factor, was released by publisher Carina UK. 'Who Needs Mr. Willoughby' is a retelling of Jane Austen's classic 'Sense and Sensibility', which I'm sure people who know the book already managed to get out of the title. A few weeks ago I read and reviewed the second part of the series, 'The Trouble with Emma' (click here to read my review), which I really loved and is a modern-day retelling of Austen's 'Emma.' I couldn't wait to check out this last part as well, even though I have to be honest and admit I'm quite sad to see this so far great series finish!
The lives of the Dashwood family, consisting of sisters Marianne and Elinor and their mother, are suddenly changed when they are forced to leave their home and move to a cottage in rural Northumberland instead. Marianne feels there's nothing positive the countryside could possibly bring her and finds it difficult to settle in. She manages to find a job at the local veterinary office, but her new boss Mr. Brandon is quite a challenge to please. When Marianne meets the handsome Mr. Willoughby, she is over the moon; finally something to keep her distracted from her rather boring new life. But as they embark on a romance, Marianne has no idea the countryside still has quite a few unexpected events in store for her...
I still don't exactly know why it took me so long to finally pick up one of Katie Oliver's novels, but after having read this second one of hers I am convinced her books are definite must-reads for any Jane Austen fan out there! 'Who Needs Mr. Willoughby' is a modern-day retelling of Austen's 'Sense and Sensibility' and Katie Oliver decided to go with a mix of elements from both modern times and Austen's original stories. The story is told from the perspective of Marianne, the younger of the two Dashwood sisters, and I loved how the author portrayed a more modern version of the character while also staying true to her original personality (especially Marianne's love for drama!). I have to say I've always been more of an Elinor fan myself and would have liked it if a bit more focus had been put on her as well, but it didn't make me enjoy Marianne's story any less.
You don't need to be familiar with the other parts of this book series or Austen's original novel in order to understand what's going on in the book; it can definitely be read and picked up as a stand-alone. Katie Oliver's writing is really great, in my opinion. The book is well-paced and the chapters are of a good length, not too long and not too short. I am really quite sad to see this series come to an end and can only keep my fingers crossed and hope Katie Oliver will decide to turn Austen's remaining three novels into modern-day retellings as well! Overall, 'Who Needs Mr. Willoughby' is another entertaining, well-written and simply great modern retelling of an Austen classic; definitely worth picking up for any Austen or chick lit fan!