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Review: Writing Jane Austen, Elizabeth Aston

Georgina Jackson is a serious, literary writer – which is her world means she’s writing quality stuff, but sales are low and people are uninterested.  Though her first novel was a success by those standards, she’s struggling with book number two and has no idea whether she’ll be able to stay in her beloved England after her research money runs out.  So when her agent pitches her as the ideal writer to complete a Jane Austen book based on a single chapter, Georgina knows she can’t do it – especially because she hasn’t ever read a single book by Jane Austen – but she capitulates anyway because she desperately needs the money.

I liked a lot of things about this book.  For one thing, I can completely understand an American in love with England, especially London.  I’m a ridiculous Anglophile myself and I could completely identify with Georgina’s longing to stay.  I nodded my head every time she listed all the wonderful things she’d miss about England – and as she travels a bit searching for inspiration, I recognized the places she went and I could just feel the appeal coming through the book’s pages.

I also am a huge fan of Jane Austen – I love her work and I often get annoyed that people fail to see more than the romances which make up her books’ plotlines.  (Seriously, why do we always dismiss things the minute we learn they’re romantic?)  As she wanders the streets and bumps into all the people who are crazy about Jane Austen, Georgina listens to their conversations about the books and can’t understand why everyone cares.  I was clamoring for her to just read them for herself – nothing irritates me more than someone who disdains a book without trying to read it first – but in the end I found I really liked her slow discovery of the books’ appeal.  The author really got into how fabulous Austen’s books are and it formed a crucial part of the story; she had plenty of opportunities to explain just why her books have universal appeal even now.

I did think Georgina herself was annoying for most of the book, though; I’m not really the type of person who can understand constant procrastination with deadlines looming, so I just wanted her to sit down and write a book already.  I’m no author but I can pretty reliably sit down and force out a couple thousand words a day; if she’d just done that from the start, she might have had something she could have worked with.  And then there was her refusal to even read Jane Austen for pages on end, and her snobbery, despite the fact that she goes on trips to get into the proper atmosphere.  She improved by the end in terms of openness, especially with a couple of sweet romantic interludes, but overall I had trouble understanding her and thus couldn’t really identify with her.  The secondary characters were particularly charming, especially Henry and his 14 year old runaway sister, and did help to lessen the annoyance I felt with Georgina.

While the main character got on my nerves, I still found Writing Jane Austen to be a wonderful book in many ways.  I think it would be perfectly suited to someone who loves Jane Austen or just loves England and London in particular.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free for review.

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