An Anti-Austen Addict Finds Jane Austen
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Giveaway Win
Georgina Jackson, feeling a mixture of apprehension and dread, makes her way down to her literary agent’s office, wondering what it is her agent wants to see her for. It probably has nothing to do with her first novel from two years ago, which received raved reviews from critics but was not a big seller, and most likely isn’t about her second book, in which Georgina is unable to write beyond the first chapter. What could her churlish agent want with her?
Georgina soon learns the reason she has been summoned: she has received a commission to complete a recently discovered fragment of novel for a famous author. While this sounds like a fantastic professional opportunity and an answer to Georgina’s financial problems, she cannot accept this assignment. Why? Because the famous author she is suppose to imitate and complete the fragment for is none other than Jane Austen!
The novels of Jane Austen and Georgina Jackson are as different as night and day. Georgina writes dark and tragic novels, filled with misfortunes and misery, and Jane Austen writes (in Georgina’s opinion) “about young women falling in love and getting husbands.” Or at least that’s what she believes she writes, since Georgina has yet to read a Jane Austen novel. Gasp!
Georgina has been given an insurmountable task. Not only does she need to write a believable pastiche of a Jane Austen novel, but she needs to do it in three months time! It would be a substantial challenge for any writer to complete a one hundred and twenty thousand word novel in twelve weeks time. Let alone a writer who needs to spend time reading and researching an author she knows nothing about. Assisting Georgina in this project is her scientist landlord, Henry, his fourteen year old sister, Maud, and their Polish housekeeper, Anna, who all adore Jane Austen and are very knowledgeable on all things Austen. Furthermore, these characters also help Georgina escape her loathsome agent and publisher who are relentlessly harassing and nearly stalking her.
With such a fantastic premise and intriguing plot, I found myself very excited to read Writing Jane Austen. While I enjoyed many parts of this story such as the minor characters, the references to Jane Austen novels and characters, and the jabs at the Austen industry, there were some aspects of this novel I did not enjoy. The first being our heroine, Georgina Jackson. I understand the author wanting to portray Georgina as very anti-Austen and create conflict with her difficulties writing a Jane Austen novel, but I feel she maybe carried it too far. Georgina spent so much time avoiding her work, running from her agent, and procrastinating that I started to find her a little unlikable and immature. Perhaps if Georgina showed some significant maturation or responsibility, readers would feel a little more sympathetic and endeared towards her.
Another aspect of this novel I wasn’t too fond of was how some characters and plots seemed a little superfluous and often disregarded later on in the novel. For example, one time when Georgina is hiding from her publisher, she stays at her ex-boyfriends apartment. The author gives a brief background on this ex-boyfriend and his relationship with Georgina but never alludes to his existence again. Another scenario is when Georgina visits a friend in Bath. There is a couple of chapters devoted to this trip, yet it seems a little isolated and does not connect to the main plot very cohesively.
With six lovely Pride and Prejudice sequels already published, Ms. Aston is becoming a well-known and admired Austenesque author. I am delighted that Ms. Aston decided to deviate from Pride and Prejudice sequels and write an Austen-Inspired/Jane Austen Chick-Lit novel. Whatever the genre is, Ms. Aston’s novels always illustrate her great love and veneration for Jane Austen and her world. I dearly hope Elizabeth Aston continues to pen more Austenesque novels!