Author: Beth Pattilo
Pub: 2009; Guidepost Books
Genre: Jane Austen, Fiction, Contemporary
It seems as though this novel receives mixed reviews from the I-love-Jane-Austen-and-no-author-is-more-of-a-rockstar-community. The biggest complaint seems to fall along the lines of how can you blame jane austen for ANYTHING, much less ruining your life?! Which, I find to be pretty pathetic. Obvs this book is tongue in cheek with the blame game. I mean, COME ON, look at the freakin' cover. I love the melodramatic Victorian back-hand to forehead snapshot. How many times have I done THAT to anyone who would glance my way when I felt put off or mishandled by Life. So, yeah, that argument for hating this book blows.
Now, the other point, which is TOTALLY valid and I'm going to assume IN TRUTH since I have yet read the book is there evidently is an error in the book when main leading lady, Emma, refers to a home and its occupants from Mansfield Park but got the names wrong. I personally have yet to read Mansfield Park, so I don't know if this is valid or not. IF there is merit, then boo on the lack of editorial skills.
But, let's move onto the fun stuff - the actual book!
It was fanciful and fun and totally and completely put me in the Austen mood. Emma is an English professor who has lost everything - her hubs to a TA, her position at the university, and most importantly, her credibility. Believing that there is nothing left she plunges forward to pursue a hunch that there's this old(ish) woman in England who holds the secrets to Austen's life. Meaning . . . she has hidden away a treasure of authentic Austen letters. Emma believes this is her one and only opportunity to bring back her good name. Secure the letters and publish, publish, publish.
Foregoing the easy way back into university graces, Emma has a few problems with this endeavor. Firstly, her estranged and very handsome best friend, Adam, is also staying at her cousin's flat. Secondly, Mrs. Parrott, the key to Austen's secrets, decide to send Emma on a wild Jane hunt. Thirdly, have I mentioned that it's an inconvenience that Adam is always around?
Good times to be had as we tour the townside with Emma as she visits some of Austen's haunts. There is an unfolding mystery that supposes who Austen was in love with, and while the author absolutely states in her afterward that she took liberties in this indulgence, I fell for it hook and line. It was absolutely romantic and realistic. Which rarely happens.
And speaking of romantic and realistic? Uh, hello! The ending. Truly the ending is what caused this little book to move from a three-star-er to a four star shout out. Sure, I'm an optimistic and want the world to end in happily ever afters. But I'm also a realist and get giggly when things end happily but perhaps not ever after. Intrigued are you? This book will only take a couple of hours to read. Go for it.