When Jane in Love by Rachel Givney showed up at my door last year I was very intrigued. I routinely get review copies for Austen-related books and am always open to new interpretations and adaptations. Plus the blurb on the cover seemed pretty unique.
“What if Jane Austen traveled to the present day, and fell in love?”
Indeed, what if. So the tldr of the premise is just that. Jane Austen miraculously travels to a modern day film set for an Austen movie and eventually stumbles into love. But at what cost?
My non-spoiler review is: I felt like this was two books. One following Jane trying to find love and one following Sofia Wentworth, the actress dealing with her failing career and marriage. I think it might have been stronger if they had been two books. But if you are looking for an escape, and willing to suspend A LOT of disbelief, this may be a good read for you.
For me, it felt often like a Mad Libs fanfiction of Jane Austen’s life.
Anyway, if you want more info (with spoilers) keep on reading.
I like for time travel to be explained, or have some mechanics or logic, but I get that there are folks who don’t see that as the focus of their story, so don’t really need to get too deep into logic and lore. This book gives some info on how the time travel may work, but… it felt very lackluster and ill-planned.
But that wasn’t what bugged me most. What bothered me was Jane Austen falling in love with Fred Wentworth in the modern day. It felt SUPER forced and the Austen on page of this book really felt like a failed attempt to capture the author’s voice and character.
She has to choose between being happy with this dude that, IMO has very little to recommend him, and going back to her time before her works are erased from existence. And I guess her going back in time and naming a character after this dude she randomly falls for is… the massive sign of her affection.
Listen, I really wanted to like this, but it repeatedly just got more ridiculous as it went and I just wasn’t sold on the love match.
If the book had been about Jane and Sofia being besties and Jane learning about the shitshow that is modern dating and marriage, I think it would have been entertaining absurdity, but the attempt to make it earnestly about love pushed it to full silliness.
Anyway, I guess we’ll see if the on-screen adaptation can salvage this.
What you should drink with this: Lots of vodka.
Who would enjoy this: If you are wanting for fanfiction of Jane Austen’s life, this is for you.
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