Friday, 29 October 2010

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

I Was Just Austen's Best Friend
Cora Harrison

When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this dashing man?

But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor orphan girl to do?

In this delicious dance between truth and fiction, Cora Harrison has crafted Jenny’s secret diary by reading everything Jane Austen wrote as a child and an adult, and by researching biographies, critical studies, and family letters. Jenny’s diary makes the past spring vividly to life and provides insight into the entire Austen family—especially the beloved Jane.

I'll start with what I didn't like:

The writing was very simple. I noticed this seems to be a problem with books written in journal format, but still. Pretty annoying.

Jenny was also very much a Mary Sue for a while. Every boy loved her, she loved every boy and how EVER would she choose the right man? It changes later on in the story, but I was just hit with the realization "Who ISN'T in love with her?" in the middle of reading.

But Jenny grew SO much over the course of the novel, just a couple months, that it's astounding. I loved that. I was never truly in love with Jenny and never wanted to be her, but she definitely improved.

The character of Jane was snarky and funny and loving and just amazing. Exactly how I like to picture Jane. The whole Austen family was very Becoming Jane-esque.

I LOVED the romance in this book. Oh my Captain. It was truly amazing. And while it might seem crazy for this time, it seemed really fitting for the time it was in.

So while it was far from perfect, I AM looking forward to the sequel, Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend. It sounds awesome! And if you're a fan of historical fiction/Jane Austen, I'd suggest reading it!

--Julie

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