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Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover
I first read this book last year when I found a paperback in the US and loved it so am delighted to see that it has now been published here in the UK by Bloomsbury.
Jaa The whole book is a bit of a hoot and enormous fun. Not going to set the world alight I can tell you that now, but it is hugely entertaining and I can recommend it as a relaxing read and it will not upset Jane purists (I consider myself one but after reading this and watching and liking Lost in Austen which has the same story line as this book, I fear I have been guilty of presumption). The heroine, Courtney, is a bit of a loser when it comes to men back in her own time in Los Angeles, having discovered her fiance playing away just before they are due to marry (he rather fancies the lady making their cake and is caught displaying more interest than is healthy in her royal icing) and is suffering from low self esteem and locked in the Bridget Jones Why Can't I find a Man syndrome? Seems to me that this kind of heroine seems to turn to Jane Austen and yearns after a Darcy figure and Courtney is no different.
At first totally amazed and frightened to find there is no waking up from her dream she decides to make the best of it. Her father, a Mr Bennett figure married to a Mrs Bennett figure (only she is ghastly and malevolent, not just silly) is fond of her and as Courtney has never known her father, she begins to feel affection and love for him. She is being pursued by Mr Edgworth (no relation to Maria we are informed) but hears that he is a bit of a libertine and is frightened to become involved in another dead end relationship.
What I found rather endearing about this book is the chance that Courtney grabs to visit Bath and London, places she has only read about in Jane Austen but has never visited, and she is overawed and thrilled to bits to find herself attending a ball at the Assembly Rooms:
"We enter through the wood and glass doors and make our way down a carpeted entrance hallway flanked by marble pillars and illuminated by crystal chandeliers......I look around at the grandeur of the vast columned space, the soft candlelight glowing golden on the gowned and waistcoated dancers......"
There is an amusing episode in the book when she hears a 'Miss Austen' being served in a shop in Milsom Street and races after her to tell her 'I love your books and am a big fan' and starts to chat to her about Mansfield Park which has yet to be published. Courtney then goes on to tell her that in 200 years time here books will be universally popular, scholars will discuss her plots and style and that there will be film and TV adaptations of her books and so on. Of course, Jane Austen thinks she is dealing with a mad woman and hastens away as quickly as possible. A conceit, but very funny.
It all ends happily with Courtney deciding to stop being a wimp and to take control of her life and marry the man of her choice. But where does she find her happiness? Longbourn or LA?
You will have to read the book to find out.
02 March 2009