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"Brant infuses her sweetly romantic and delightfully clever tale with just the right dash of Austen-esque wit." --Chicago Tribune
"A charming book." --Family Circle Magazine's "Inner Circle"
"Fresh, original, and lots of fun." --Barnes & Noble Review, "The Long List"
"What an unexpected, uplifting, and urbane debut novel! ...Subtly powerful and amusingly acerbic, you will be gently reproved into agreeing in the power of love to transform us all." --Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
From the Author
~~~As a long-time and extremely devoted fan of the works of Jane Austen, I couldn't be happier that my contemporary debut novel featuring her as a character has been so well received. Many thanks to the readers, librarians and booksellers that have embraced this story and shared it with others!
ACCORDING TO JANE is the winner of:
~~~Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award for Best Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, 2007
~~~Single Titles Reviewers' Choice Award, 2009
~~~Booksellers' Best Award for Best Single Title/Mainstream Novel, 2009-2010
This is utterly unique and hard to define. I wish I could recommend it to young readers because it so perfectly describes the pain of adolescence and trying to deal with the cruelty of peers and older siblings at that age. However, there are also descriptions of encounters of the sexual kind as Ellie Barnett ages from high school to her mid-30s that are NOT appropriate reading for less mature audiences. Despite that, I related so strongly to Ms. Brant's depiction of growing up and maturing that her book struck me as nothing short of brilliant.
Ellie tells the story in her own words, beginning when she was a high school geek in the 1980s. A straight-A student, she is far removed from all the cool kids, especially her overbearing older sister, Diana. Instead of trying to shield her sensitive sibling, Di takes every opportunity to embarrass Ellie in front of schoolmates. But Ellie's life changes on the day her English teacher hands out copies of Pride and Prejudice. Suddenly a voice pops up. Inside Ellie's head. And it's Jane Austen.
Yes, the Lady herself speaks directly to Ellie telepathically. The first thing JA does is to warn Ellie that Sam Blaine, who sits behind her in English class ("thanks to the eternal delights of alphabetical order," according to Ellie) is "your Mr. Wickham." Seems like JA's right, too. Sam is handsome, charming and he's popular despite being super smart. He's only the first of a series of boys and/or men we're introduced to through Ellie, and Jane is ever in her head trying to counsel her about them.
There's a lot of ironic humor throughout. For example, Ellie has her first sexual experience the night of her Senior Prom with a "safe" male friend who turns out to be completely inept and believes he's de-flowered her (as does the rest of the school) when, in truth, he has not.
JA and Ellie both are witty and have a way with words, but in characteristically different ways. The arguments going on in Ellie's head between the two are always entertaining. Naturally, Ms. Austen doesn't have full understanding of contemporary culture, so her perspective isn't always on the mark.
Jane does provide constant companionship for Ellie, encouraging and appreciating her for who she is as no one else in Ellie's world seems to. JA doles out wisdom and astute observations about what's going on in Ellie's life.
Significant truths are sprinkled about. For example: JA: "Your mistakes in judgment are not due to the complexity of humanity, Ellie. They are due to the lens with which you view love." Ellie: "You mean, I need to challenge the fairy tale and not the man?" JA: "Precisely." Me: YESSSS!!!
And Di, whose relationship with her husband Alex factors strongly here, correctly states, "True love... [is] all work and building trust and fighting for commitment, day after day after day. And both people need to want to make it happen. Bad."
And I REALLY love the truth expressed in the turning point of this book that you can't have a healthy in-love relationship until you're okay with being alone without one. That doesn't mean that you're not open to romance, of course, but too many women marry a guy because they want to be married rather than because they're truly in love.
Ms. Brand's writing is flawless and beautiful. She successfully conveys the awkwardness of the various relationships Ellie has in her quest for her Mr. Darcy. These guys all turn out to be losers in one way or another, even when the sex is magnificently toe-curling.
I loved everything about this story: the writing, the characters, the plot development, and the theme. It transcends an ordinary romance.
Be warned that, along with the realistic sexual content, the homosexual relationship of one character leads to a gay wedding, which Ellie attends.
The title caught my eye at the shops. I was intrigued by the storyline. A girl who is haunted by Jane Austen herself. Ellie isn't just haunted by Jane through her teen years though. Austen has been with Ellie from the age of 15 to 34 years old. So this is a coming of age storyline with Jane Austen's help.
Just like Ellie, I was a geek in my English classes because I enjoyed reading the books assigned. Not all sophomore teens can understand Austen's satire, let alone dialogue. So that's why I was a book mouse. I might not of had Jane Austen "haunting" me. I did have Jane's works to use as guidelines in finding a Mr. Right. But like Ellie has realized, I've set that bar pretty high.
"Heaven forbid! - That would be the greatest misfortune of all! - To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate! - Pride and Prejudice."
At the beginning of each chapter, Marilyn Brant gives a quote from one of Jane Austen's works. This one is from chapter 9 and I think it is the perfect description of Sam Blaine. Jane and Ellie consider him to be Mr. Wickham. In my opinion, teenage Sam is a lot like the teenage boys that were in my school. The Wickham comparison is pretty good. But unlike Wickham, I think Sam can and has shown that he is changing. He wants to be a better person. So I was glad that Sam proved Ellie (and Jane) wrong about him.
Most romance books that have H and h reunited have the heroine be celibate. I disagree with that. In According to Jane, I was very happy that Ellie isn't celibate while Sam wasn't also.
I think that it's plausible that 15 y.o. Sam knew that Ellie was "The One." After all, my Uncle married his Junior High School sweatheart. They are still married and very happy. So finding "The One" at such a young age can happen.
I am very glad I have this book. I've read it 5 times now since I bought it almost three years ago. I didn't always like Jane's "hauntings" because I thought they interfered with this nice story. They were good though.