Book #44 – According to Jane (final thoughts)
It had been an otherwise normal day for 15-year-old Ellie Barnett. Bullied by the popular girls (the leader of which being Ellie’s sister), teased by the ever annoying (yet tantalizing) Sam Blaine, and generally keeping up her reputation as the smart, nerdy girl. But then, while the next book to be studied was being handed out in English class, Ellie heard a voice. A voice that no one around her seemed to hear. A voice that belonged to the author of the book Ellie held in her hands, the classic Pride and Prejudice. A voice with plenty of opinions, none of which it hesitated to share.
A couple months ago when I found out I had won a signed manuscript of Marilyn Brant’s According to Jane from Lydia at NovelWhore’s Blog, I was pretty much ecstatic. I had heard a bit about it around the blogosphere and it sounded like such a great book. Plus, I was in the middle of reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time and thought that this would be the perfect first spin-off to read afterwards. It took me a while to get to, but I’m so glad I finally did!
Ellie starts hearing the voice of Jane Austen while in high school; she’s been sent to advise Ellie on life, but primarily on relationships. From the age of 15, we follow Ellie and Jane through twenty years of relationships and heartache. Through these relationships, and near-relationships, Ellie has developed a system to categorize the men she’s dated, which she and Jane discuss throughout the book. You see, Jane also has a system of categories that anyone who has read P&P will be very familiar with. There are the Wickhams, who have bad intentions from the get-go, but are experts at winning over women. There are also the Bingleys, who are sweet and kind, but can be somewhat spineless. Both of these seem to be in high supply, but where oh where are the gallant, noble Darcys?
I really liked Brant’s look on finding love, that it’s not always instantaneous. Sometimes it’s not about finding the right person, it’s finding, or re-finding (is that a word?) that person at the right time. Once in a while those two events coincide, but there are times when a bit of waiting is required.
I also enjoyed how Brant interlaced Pride & Prejudice themes and quotes with the modern story of Ellie. Each chapter begins with a quote from the book, but here and there throughout the book are little gems such as this:
Now, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman in possession of an important date must be in want of a hot outfit. (p. 111)
You don’t have to have read Pride & Prejudice to get what’s going on, but obviously understand the story, and Jane’s life, will add an extra layer of enjoyment to According to Jane.
My rating: 8/10