September 20, 2009
Review of Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
When I picked up this book at The Mother Ship (also known as Barnes & Noble), I had no idea that this was our heroine, Emma Grant's second literary appearance. As a reader, you should have no fear that you need to read Ms. Pattillo's first book featuring Emma before this one. I did not and I still found Jane Austen Ruined My Life to be a delightful, witty romp through England.
I loved the setting - - I have always wanted to travel to England and having yet to get there, I savor any books that take place in that lovely foreign land. Ms. Pattillo, who states in her bio that she travels annually to Britain, describes even the most everyday highlights of British living, from the local Starbucks to riding the tube to jaunts to the local bookstore. Even having never been to London or the surrounding areas, I could picture each location almost clearly in my mind from the narrative.
I could also relate to Emma. She realizes too late that she was married to a man who was controlling and didn't cherish her. She changed her life to suit him and his and it took something as cruel as catching him the act of adultery for her to make an official break. She is scarred and she is bitter about relationships but she isn't a bitter person. I could also understand her passion about finding potential secret letters written by Jane Austen and her one-minded drive in her hunt.
The only thing I didn't like about Emma was her apparent blindness when it comes to Adam, her friend from college days whom she hasn't spoken to or seen since marrying Edward and who she runs into again upon arriving in London. It's painfully obvious, to this reader at least, that Adam has long held a torch for Emma and it was no coincidence that Emma and Adam's friendship was broken when she married Edward.
Adam is a wonderful leading man - - thoughtful, generous and literate. Throughout much of the book I rooted for Emma to come to her senses and throw herself into Adam's arms - - in between rooting for Emma to find those Austen letters and reveal some tantalizing aspect of Ms. Austen's life.
Jane Austen too is a central character of this smart piece of chick lit - - her name isn't just used to sell the book. There are no flashbacks but much of Jane is revealed, fictionally, through papers.
In all, I found Jane Austen Ruined My Life to be a fun, intelligent read and a wonderful way to spend some quiet afternoons. The ending was not at all what I expected and some readers may find the ending questionable and objectionable. While it might have been a bit of a letdown, it didn't ruin the spirit of the book for me.
If you're a fan of clever chick lit and/or Jane Austen, I recommend you pick up this book.
Visit author Beth Pattillo's website here.