Thursday, July 1, 2010

What I Read Last Week

What I Read Last Week . . .

Writing Jane Austen by Elizabeth Aston -- Austenesque
Victorian scholar turned novelist Georgina Jackson has one critically acclaimed novel under her belt, yet no one has read it! She needs to write a bestseller in order to have enough money to stay in England. Her demanding agent declares that Georgina has been tapped for the biggest project in history. A rare fragment of a manuscript from a nineteenth century author has been uncovered and Georgina's publisher demands she complete the novel. Gina is convinced she can't complete this novel for many reasons: Gina knows nothing about Jane Austen; she's never even read the novels (gasps and faints!) and she's convinced that Jane Austen is not realistic enough for her tastes. As Gina tries to escape her autocratic publisher and agent, she immerses herself in Jane Austen's world and discovers the variety of Janeites who flock to England in search of the world of their favorite author. With encouragement from her wonderful housemate Henry LeFroy and his teenage sister Maud, Gina reluctantly sits down to complete Love and Friendship with surprising results.

This is a cute, light read fo
r die-hard Jane Austen fans. There are many many references to people from Austen's life and times and various Regency figures flit in and out of Gina's life. I laughed out loud at some of the more obvious references. There are also Harry Potter references that make the novel even more amusing. I could really relate to Gina! I'm a procrastinator and a chapter one writer. (Actually, I'm worse; I haven't even gotten that far!) and I could totally feel Gina's panic at trying to copy the style of the incomparable Austen! The secondary characters are great too. I was really interested in Maud's story because she is an interesting and realistic teenage misfit. Henry isn't very well developed, but he is a typical sweet romantic hero. Anna adds another dimension to the plot and together, the housemates form the family that Gina needs.

This novel doesn't follow the conventions of typical chick lit/romance novels which is both good and bad. My complaints are that Gina takes way too long to sit down and write that the ending of this book is rushed. The romance plot comes out of nowhere even though I saw it coming from the first page. There isn't really any dramatic conflict. The conflict comes from Gina's writer's block and procrastination. Some of the Austenesque references are a little too coincidental and may bother some readers. Overall though, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for all die-hard Janeites who don't take themselves too seriously.

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