Monday, April 4, 2011
Review: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones
Book: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones
Genre: Literary Fiction
For: TLC Blog Tour
From: The publisher (Harper Collins)
This is the story of Lily, a huge Jane Austen fan, who is struggling with her boring, sad, mundane life. Actually, maybe a life where too many unpleasant things seem to be happening. She gets dumped by her boyfriend, she loses her job, her mom has recently died, and her dad is getting remarried way too fast. I mean, could it get any more pathetic? No.... and that's why she jumps at the chance to go to England and participate in a Jane Austen literary festival where this year they will be acting out scenes from Mansfield Park.
However, once she gets there, she finds out things aren't so rosy there either. The organization is facing bankruptcy, Lily ends up with really no part to play in the production, her roommate, who wasn't supposed to show up, does and is a trip and a half, the landlady is on the brink of death which means the cool old house where they run this show could be sold out from under them, and then, to top it all off... .she meets a mysterious guy in the attic!
I expected this book to sort of be the escape of a modern woman into the world of Jane Austen. While it was a fun intriguing story, it didn't quite fit that escape scenario. I was a little disappointed at this. Instead of hearing about all the financial stress, and business side of the festival, I was hoping to have more Jane Austen-ish type situations befall our heroine.
Even so, all the Jane Austen references were very fun, and I learned quite a bit about her. There were many other non-Jane Austen literary references that I enjoyed too. This is truly a book lovers sort of book. But my most favorite part was how the character in the story, Lily, had her own personal Jane Austen (which she dubbed "my Jane Austen") that followed her around and had a reaction to pretty much everything that happened to Lily. Very fun idea. She was truly a tangible character and very much a part of this story.
One of my other favorite parts of this book is what I found at the end, where the author Cindy Jones, suggests ways to find your very own Jane Austen friendship. These include:
1. Read all six novels, without fail. (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey)
2. Read a Jane Austen biography.
3. Pick your favorite Jane Austen novel and study it to the point that you can read between the lines and decide what you think she was really saying.
4. Join a Jane Austen fan club or society like JASNA
5. Become obsessed. Blog hop, lurk on forums, etc. Learn all you can!
Author Cindy Jones says that after she read all six Jane Austen novels and realized there would be no more, she went into withdrawals and found herself struggling to fill the void. She then realized she could write something to fulfill what she was missing and bring Jane to life. She says, "I envisioned gothic elements and characters immersed in enactments and discussion so immediate it would seem Jane Austen were present. I found myself inventing a literary festival where Jane Austen's novels assume relevance in the life of a troublesd young woman. Spending five years writing My Jane Austen Summer thoroughly satisfied my Austen craving." She has always dreamed of living in a novel, and she has discovered that now, through writing, she CAN live in a novel for the best part of the day!
Other Links of Interest:
Cindy's Blog: First Draft
My Jane Austen Summer Facebook Page
Other tour stops and reviews