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Monday, October 30, 2017

Mini Reviews: Battle of the Ones Imitating Austen



Blurb from Goodreads:
After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.
My Review:
 
Katherine Reay pretty much became a must read for me after I devoured her first book, Dear Mr. Knightley. She followed up her amazing debut with a string of books and I've liked them all (you can read some of my reviews of her other books HERE).  Her latest is no exception and I almost feel like she's a modern Jane Austen herself! There is something about the way Katherine Reay writes her characters that is always magical to me - she is good at it that I've pretty much fallen in love with all of them. Mary Davies is another such character - I was immediately rooting for her while intensely understanding her.  I think that is Ms. Reay's greatest gift - empathy -I am always drawn to and drawn in by her characters and I think and feel along with them in every word.
Austen really had a thing against Marys. I'd met Mary Bennet first. Then came Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park. She initially misled me. She had all the wit and vivacity of a Lizzy Bennet, but it took me time to catch on.  She had none of the wisdom -- no discretion. And she got not happy ending. And now Mary Elliot . . . We Marys weren't a kind and gentle lot. We didn't grow. We didn't change. We didn't get redeemed.


Blurb from Goodreads:
Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she's been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So naturally when Emma falls for Blake Hampton and he invites her home to meet his parents, she is positive an engagement is in her future. After all, Blake is a single man in possession of a good fortune, and thus must be in want of a wife.

But when it turns out that what Blake actually wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, the fastest growing gym franchise in the nation. She loves her work, and she's good at it, which is why she bristles when her boss brings in a consultant to help her spearhead the new facilities on the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake's younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate.

What she can't understand is why Lucas continues to try to push her back into Blake's arms when he so clearly has fallen as hard for her as she has fallen for him.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must find a way to let Blake know that it's time for him to let her go and to let Lucas know it's time for him to love her back.
My Review:
This was a bit sappy but I still really liked Emma - she didn't fall into a lot of obvious traps that I kept expecting and there was something very refreshing about this romance.  Yes, there was lots of drama and stops and starts but it also felt very real to me.  My one criticism would be a lot of focus on Emma's career - as in the day to day, not just broad strokes - and that bored me a bit.  But still, it also made her a real person and added depth to her character.
Jane died an unmarried woman, which in her day was something disastrous. In my current modern-day America, married or unmarried didn't matter much. But to be unloved . . . that was disastrous, and I'd spent so much of my time being unloved that I knew something had to change if I wanted a different ending from the one my once-hero author had. I had to stop believing her. The bad thing, the secret I carried with me all through my liberal education and feminist discussions with my friends as i worked my way to the executive levels in my company, was that I loved love. I wanted to be loved and to give love and to fight and make up and smile across the room at the one my heart raced for -- smile because he was mine.
Both of these books have Austen in the title but only one involves an MC obsessed with Jane from the very beginning - in a way, both of the MCs of these books are trying to throw off Jane at all directions and end up more immersed than ever.  Both The Austen Escape and Lies Jane Austen Told Me will be released next week on November 7, 2017, and I would definitely recommend reading some Katherine Reay, I've loved everything she's written including this one!!

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