What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
I quite enjoyed this book, and one of the main reasons is that the ending was not rushed. It was very well written and had all of the elements for a good story. It was evenly paced, had a bit of romance, adventure and mystery as well as good character development. I was actually sad when I had finished it so quickly, that I would no longer have a chance to enjoy the story. Though, as I mentioned that the ending was not rushed, so I did not feel cheated when the story did end.
It was obvious in reading Ms. Brown’s book that she researched the Regency period and actually put in those little details that everyone wonders about, but no one writes. One such instance is her description of the ‘Removal’ at dinner, when the guests all get up and chat while the servants completely clear the table and reset it for the next course. I actually learned quite a bit about the Regency dining process.
The refrain “What would Jane Austen do?” was not said too often, and put a smile on this reader’s face as you could imagine that the conclusions that Eleanor came up were probably the same that our beloved author would have said. Luckily Eleanor knew the Regency from her own studies as well as reading Jane Austen’s novels, so she didn’t seem too out of place. However, she did learn to love the ‘little’ things that modern day provides.
The basic premise of the story deals with Eleanor Pottinger, a modern-day Regency dress maker who goes to England for a Regency conference and bumps into two ghosts. The ghosts wind up making a bargain with Eleanor, help keep their brother from dying in a duel, and they will introduce her to Jane Austen. In order to help these sisters, Eleanor is transported back to 1814 England. The feisty ghost sisters are hilarious and Ms. Brown did a wonderful job of portraying Jane Austen at a house party. Ms. Brown did a decent job in drawing the characters (most of them, at least) so that you had a sense of who they were. I am sure that a purist would find fault with some of the vernacular or situations that occurred, but this reader found this book a pleasure to read.
I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Jane Austen, the Regency, a little adventure, and doesn’t mind a few intimate scenes (or easily enough to skim, as some of us are want to do!). It was fun, light-hearted and quite an enjoyable read. Below are a few of my favourite quotes. They don’t give too much away, but if you don’t like any spoilers, you might want to end here!
‘Elizabeth’s journey taught me I should listen to my brain and my heart and to neither exclusively. Love does not demand perfection because imperfections make each of us unique. Appearances can be false, and what is important comes from the inside.’ (pg 255)
‘I suppose this author is much like any other,’ Jane said. ‘I once ... heard an author describe writing as taking bits and pieces of her experiences and observations, then she questions, dissects, and analyzes them. She extrapolates from them, stretching the thought out. Then she adds from her imagination a big dose of what might have been, a god measure of what would never be, and spices it all with wishful thinking.’ (pg 256)