Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo

As readers of this blog know, I am obsessed with all things Jane Austen. Although I know that nothing can beat the original novels, I love to watch the movies, read historical background on Jane and her times, and also read spin-off fiction based on Jane and her literary creations.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of Emma Grant, a university professor that specializes in Jane Austen. One day Emma returns home to find her husband in a compromising position with her graduate assistant. And to make matters worse, the two ruin her credibility as an Austen scholar. Realing from these personal and professional disasters, Emma journeys to England to visit a woman, Mrs. Parrot, who claims to have long lost letters, never published letters of Jane Austen. Emma is determined to prove that Jane Austen was wrong on love and she (rather unjustly I thought) blames Austen for giving her too idealistic of a version of love. The search for the letters turns into a mini "Da Vinci Code" journey where Emma uses her knowledge of Jane to discover new truthes about her favorite author and herself.

I liked this book - it was a quick, fun read. It was better than a lot of Austen spin-off books. The journey through Austen's England, the bits about Austen, and the romance were all fun. I didn't like Emma's entire basis of her journey - to prove Austen a fraud that gives women too idealistic a vision of love. That didn't seem right for an Austen scholar and lover. Especially as all lovers of Austen know about there are cads in life such as Willoughby and Wickham. Some plot points seemed too trite. Overall though, it was an entertaining book.

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