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Jane Austen Ruined My Life Paperback – February 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Emma Grant, the heroine of Pattillo’s first outing, has a major beef to settle with her literary heroine, Jane Austen. Austen’s novels taught Emma, a college professor, to believe in happy endings, but her own happy ending goes up in flames when she discovers her husband, Edward, in the arms of her teaching assistant, after which the two have her professionally discredited by claiming she plagiarized a paper. Disillusioned and disgraced, Emma flees the U.S. for her cousin’s house in England after being contacted by Gwendolyn Parrot, an elderly woman claiming to be in possession of a stash of lost Austen letters. Rather than simply handing over the letters, Mrs. Parrot sends Emma on a succession of tasks that gradually reveal a secret about Austen’s life previously unknown to scholars. Along the way, Emma reconnects with Adam, her former best friend whom she fell out of touch with after marrying Edward. Filled with all the whimsy and romantic literary fun the title promises, Pattillo’s novel is a rewarding read. --Kristine Huntley


Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo is smart chick lit that is an absolute pleasure to read. English professor and Austen expert Emma Grant is heartbroken after her divorce when an intriguing communication lures her to England and a possible cache of Jane Austen's unpublished letters. Her desire to inspect them is complicated by her renewed acquaintance with fellow professor Adam Clark, and the series of Austen-related assignments that the guardian of the letters gives to Emma. Yet through these tasks Emma learns about herself and her attitudes toward love and marriage. While the growing romance between the heroine and Adam is sweet, sweeter is the new sense of self that Emma gains. Written in first person and flavored with interesting Austen information, this is a book readers will drink down like a lovely cup of fragrant tea. --BookPage

Professor Emma Grant has always had faith in the happily-ever-after depicted by her favorite author, Jane Austen. But where's Emma's happy ending when she discovers that, instead of a Darcy, she's married a Wickham who both breaks her heart and destroys her career? Emma sets off for England on a quest to reestablish her academic credibility by tracking down the lost letters of Jane Austen and finds a romantic adventure of her own. Fun for Anglophiles and Austenites alike. --Library Journal

Pattillo... has created a lush story where England plays as much a character as anything else. For Anglophiles and Austen fans, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is a joy to read. --Oklahoma Gazette

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: GuidepostsBooks (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824947711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824947712
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Beth Pattillo's love for Jane Austen was born when she studied at the University of London, Westfield College, for one glorious semester. Her passion quickly became an obsession, necessitating regular trips to England over the past twenty years. When not dreaming of life 'across the pond,' Beth lives in Nashville with her husband and two children.

Customer Reviews

The book was intriguing and I kept reading to see what would happen.
I didn't buy the story line and the characters were not very interesting people.
I am a huge Jane Austen fan and this book made me love her even more.
Erin B. Lush

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Vic on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo is a surprisingly fast and fun read, and I found myself unable to put it down at times. The plot revolves around wishful thinking: WHAT IF Jane Austen's sister Cassandra saved more of her letters than we know about? What if the missing correspondence is being kept somewhere, protected from the public?

This knowledge has English professor and devoted Jane Austen scholar Emma Grant salivating. Her academic reputation is in tatters after her husband and his teaching assistant (and his paramour) accuse her of plagiarism. Newly divorced and denied tenure, Dr. Grant travels to London hot on the trail of the rumored missing letters. There, she meets up with Mrs. Gwendolyn Parrot, a Formidable, who tantalizingly allows Emma to read a copied snippet of Jane's missing letters. Scholar that she is, Emma immediately recognizes Jane's handwriting and the (seeming) authenticity of the fragment. To be certain, she would have to read a copy of the original.

After extracting a promise of secrecy from Emma, Mrs. Parrot sends her on a series of tasks, in which Emma visits Steventon, Chawton Cottage, Bath -- well, you get the drift -- all the places that Jane Austen either lived in or traveled to. Emma's motives for going through all this trouble are the possibility of handling the actual letters and researching them. Her resulting book would salvage her academic reputation. Traveling with Emma is an old flame who, coincidentally, is staying in the same flat as Emma. Does he know of her secret or is he truly as interested in her as he claims? His presence adds to the mystery and suspense of the plot. The book is a fast read and I found it completely satisfying until the very end.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By LizziesMom on June 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
*** SPOILERS!!! ***

Proceed only if you've already read the book or don't mind knowing how it turns out.

This novel was really interesting until the plot was "explained."
All I could say was "huh?"

First of all, is it really that easy for a scholar to have her work claimed by a no-name teaching assistant? Surely EVERYONE involved with "convicting" Emma of plagiarism wasn't juvenile enough to think she was only hired because she was Edward's wife. Her work would have stood on its own and it shouldn't have been difficult to prove its authenticity. If she couldn't get an objective hearing the first time, an attorney should have been brought in at that point. Hello?!

Secondly, it was Edward who committed adultery - why is Emma so destitute financially after the divorce? She can't even afford a cell phone? It was made clear that they were quite wealthy.

Many other examples like this abound - things that don't quite add up. But the most inexplicable part of the plot is the reason given for Jane's letters being hidden in the first place. It is irrelevant to the success or enjoyment of her novels. Why would knowledge of the events of 1801 make anyone think differently of her writing? It was known already that they were written by a woman, and what woman hadn't experienced some kind of heartbreak? That somehow disqualifies her from being a respectable author? It doesn't make a bit of sense. And the choice Emma makes at the end of the book doesn't, either. She could have gotten a statement from the university that would have made future employment no problem, and I'm sure her case would have been settled rather quickly once they were sued. All she did was wimp out and go stick her head in the ground at Mom & Dad's instead of embracing life - how is she any less a blundering fool at the end than at the beginning?
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Ann VINE VOICE on February 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
American college professor Emma Grant always does the right thing and expects the same from others. She acquired her expectations from her minister father and her favorite author Jane Austen, who both taught her to believe in the happily-ever-after. Life was turning out as planned until she unexpectedly discovers her husband's affair with her teaching assistant who in turn falsely accuses her of plagiarizing another author's work. An academic scandal ensues prompting an investigation and removal from her prestigious teaching position, denunciation by academia, and an ugly divorce leaving poor Emma at a turning point in her life. She had always believed in the possibility of finding her Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley and settling down to martial bliss. How could Jane Austen have ruined her life?

Without a job, husband, reputation or money, she packs up and off to London on the invitation of an elderly woman Mrs. Parrot who claims to have a stash of undocumented letters written by Jane Austen. If this woman's claims are true, they might be the famous missing letters that Jane Austen's sister Cassandra inherited after her death in 1817 and supposedly burned deeming them to personal for public view. If authenticated, they represented the ultimate Holy Grail of Austenalia and the ticket to Emma's academic and personal happiness. The enigmatic Mrs. Parrot is not quite ready to just hand them over to anyone, even if they have been summoned to her house. Emma must prove her worthiness to Mrs. Parrot, one of the `Formindables', a secret society of devoted Janeites named after Jane's own moniker of herself and sister Cassandra in their later years. Mrs. Parrot sends Emma on a series of Austen related tasks/tests to prove she's up to snuff visiting Steventon, Chawton, Bath and other Austen haunts.
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