‘Jane Austen Ruined My Life’ a Satisfying First Novel

austenruinedlifeJane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo (Guideposts Books)

Emma Grant blames Jane Austen for encouraging her to believe in happy endings. Happy endings are in short supply in Emma’s life. First she found her husband Edward and her teaching assistant in flagrante delicto, on her kitchen table, no less. Then the assistant, with the backing of now ex-hubby, accused Emma of plagiarism, destroying her career as an English lit professor.

Emma responds to this insult by fleeing to England to track down an alleged cache of previously undiscovered letters by Jane Austen.

In England, she runs straight into Adam, the former best friend who dropped out of her life when she married Edward. And she encounters an eccentric grandmotherly woman who claims to have access to an unimaginable treasure—thousands of letters by Jane Austen.

Beth Pattillo’s first novel (to be followed this February by Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart) is an entertaining, emotionally satisfying story. Emma Grant is an independent, likable heroine with a sense of humor and a set of scruples, keeping her true to the spirit of Austen.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life moves quickly, pays homage to Austen’s characters and stories without being totally predictable, and includes plenty of fun Austen biographical and historical tidbits. I’m looking forward to Pattillo’s second book.

Meeting the Austen Challenge

Oh my, time does fly. Back in July, I announced that I would be taking part in the Everything Austen Challenge. I more than fulfilled the requirement to read or watch six Austen-related books or movies before January 1. In fact, I easily met the requirements of the Austen Challenge X Two. Alas, I have been too busy this fall (well, OK, sometimes just too lazy) to post about my reading and viewing adventures.

I’ve got bits and pieces of reviews scattered over my hard drive, which I will gather up and post over the next week or two, but in the meantime, I ring in the new year with a list of what I have read/watched since the Challenge began in July.

  1. Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, by Claire Herman. I actually did manage to post a review of this.
  2. Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo. An entertaining, Austen-inspired modern tale in which the heroine is lured to London by the promise of a cache of undiscovered Jane Austen letters. The cover alone, featuring a swooning lass in an eye-catching scarlet dress, is worth the price of the book.
  3. The Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy by Pamela Aidan. These well-written books, told from Darcy’s point of view, include An Assembly Such as This, Duty and Desire, and These Three Remain.
  4. “Clueless,” the fun 1995 movie that transports Emma to a 20th century high school. Alicia Silverstone plays the clueless, matchmaking heroine. [Read more…]

Challenge Yourself with Everything Austen

Been meaning to read Sense and Sensibility or Mr. Darcy’s Diary? Never did get around to seeing the movie “Mansfield Park”?

Deadline for entering the Everything Austen Challenge is July 15.

Deadline for entering the Everything Austen Challenge is July 15.

Well, here’s your chance to catch up on all things Austen, and maybe win a prize in the process. The blog Stephanie’s Written Word has announced the Everything Austen Challenge. Between July 1, 2009 and January 1, 2010, simply finish six Austen-themed things, such as reading one of Austen’s books, watching Austen-related movies, or attending an Austen event.

Since I’ve seen just about every Austen-related movie out there, my list is heavy on books. The first item on my list is reading The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, which is proving to be quite diverting (look for a review shortly). I’m also going to read Sense and Sensibility…I never have read it all the way through. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife should be arriving soon. I’m also keen to read Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World. And I look forward to “Clueless,” one of the rare Austen-inspired movies I have not seen. In a more proactive mode, I’m also working on a couple of Austen-related YouTube videos.

Of course, the list may evolve as the months pass.

How about you? What’s on your Austen Challenge list?

A Feast of Austen and Zombies

prideandzombiesIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single reader in possession of a good Austen zombie romance, must be in want of more. It is only a matter of time before we are imposed upon by Northanger Abbey and Vampires. Mansfield Park and Werewolves. Emma and the Exorcist.

Yes, I have succumbed to that plague sweeping the land: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has infested so many that the book, by Jane Austen with a bit of help from screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith, is on the New York Times bestseller list.

The genius of this novel (and I use the term loosely) is that 85 percent of it is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, word for word. The remaining 15 percent is zombies (or unmentionables, as the residents of Regency England prefer to call them) and ninjas. (Ninjas? Yes, really. But then again, who could do a better job of warding off the undead?) Elizabeth catches Darcy’s fancy for the liveliness of her wit and her superior fighting skills. Darcy’s pretty good at beheading zombies himself, though not quite as much a fighting legend as his fearsome aunt, Lady Catherine.

Published this spring and billed as a book that “transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read,” Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is also illustrated with disgusting drawings of zombies and ninjas doing, well, what zombies and ninjas do.

[Read more…]