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My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park Paperback – March 29, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
A down on her luck woman goes on an Austen-inspired journey of self-discovery in Jones's middling debut. After Lily Berry loses her mother, gets dumped by her boyfriend, and is fired, she finds in her passion for all things Jane Austen (Jane, indeed, is Lily's imaginary friend) an escape route: she travels to England to participate in a Jane Austen re-enacting festival. Full of enthusiasm—but not acting talent—Lily is not embraced by many of the Janeites, but this doesn't prevent her from meeting a charismatic actor, contending with an impossible roommate, and struggling with dark family secrets, all while trying to find the courage to be the protagonist of her own story. While Jones does a credible job of creating a heroine in transition, Lily's process of self-realization isn't nearly as involving as the subplots, which is quite unfortunate, considering how much time is devoted to sussing out her issues. (Mar.)
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“Austen lovers everywhere will delight in Lily’s summer adventure and wish Cindy Jones had cast them in a role, too, so they could play a part in this whimsical literary treat.” (Marilyn Brant)
“An invitation to get lost in Austen all over again. Janeites will have great fun watching how Cindy Jones cleverly interweaves a very modern romance with the characters, themes, and scenes of Austen’s masterpiece” (Lynn Shepherd, author of Murder at Mansfield Park)
“A delightful story that takes us for a romp through the English countryside and into the wonderful world of Jane Austen. You can’t help but root for Lily Berry, a refreshingly real heroine as she searches for herself in a novel and finds something quite unexpected.” (Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Author of Secret Daughter)
“An indulgent escape for anybody who has ever wished they could live in an Austen novel...poignant, funny, and as sharply observant of human foibles as the great Jane herself.” (Stephanie Barron,,Author of the Jane Austen Mystery Series)
“Austen lovers and romantics won’t have had this much fun since Bridget Jones’s Diary.” (dolcedolce.com)
“Jones’ Austenish charm dances through each chapter, causing you fall in love with Lily right from the first few pages while empathizing with the ever complicated issues of her life.” (Marie Claire)
“This is an amazing debut for Cindy Jones...My Jane Austen Summer is worth every word on the page; I suggest you pick up a copy because you will love it.” (Bookreporter.com)
“Whether you are a Jane Austen super fan or a hopeless romantic, Cindy Jones’ debut novel will sweep you off your feet.” (She Knows)
“My Jane Austen Summer” is packed with rich plot, detailed characters and elaborate settings…a literary feast for Austen fans.” (Deseret News)
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I was a bit confused in the beginning and wondered where this story was headed. Lily Berry sounded desperate & lost but OMG, I hated her ex-boyfriend calling her a "lost dog". I thought it was really insulting. She was just trying to figure things out.
I was also confused when she kept referring to "My Jane Austen" until it dawned on me that she was actually seeing her Jane Austen. I loved this concept. Others may have thought it peculiar but I thought it suited her personality. She was going through major grief so my heart really went out to her. I was so happy to see how her love interest responded to Lily describing to him about her Jane Austen. I really loved how she identified herself with classics that I personally do as well.
There was one really quite odd sex scene( and actually, I'm wondering if actual sex happened on her end). I'm still scratching my head over the details. The ending left me quite miffed because it ended too abruptly for my tastes.
Overall, I didn't want it to end so I really hope the author will continue with the Jane Austen-inspired theme. Good job!
Lily Berry is not your average protagonist, and that keeps this story from being another vapid summer beach read. Jones weaves a complex plot that provides a wealth of reasons to scratch your head or summon the book group for full discussion. The story is a fascinating reflection of contemporary lifestyles and refuses to turn blindly down the well-worn path to a simple and happy ending.
From the horrifying gothic madness of her relationship with Sixby to the quiet yearning forbidden relationship with Willis through the "oh no you don't" ending with Randolph, Jones leads Lily Berry through an engaging and soul-searching adventure worthy of close examination. And along the way, it is entertaining, with reasons to laugh, cry, and wince. My first read-through was fast with the paperback and I missed a lot of the subtlety of the story lines. My second read-through was slow, on my Kindle, and I often found myself stopping to highlight a sentence and admire the expertly crafted turns of phrase and vivid imagery.
Literature Live, the literary festival that provides the setting of the book, is truly alive. From John Owens jumping on the stairs to test the manor house's structural integrity to Magda's relentless oppressive condescension, every character adds charm and interest and advances the adventure in what should never have been anticipated to be an easy proposition.
This is not a book to be taken lightly. You will get out of it what you put into it. If you are a serious reader, you should love this very unusual book.
The story centers around Lily Berry, a 20 something woman who has recently lost her mother. She has an ex-boyfriend that she stalks and a job she has failed at miserably - due to reading Jane Austen books during business hours. The poor thing is depressed, distracted and in need of something to change in her life. In a sudden and courageous (crazy) move she up and takes off for England for a Lit Fest. Does she do the impossible? Turn everything around? More importantly, does she find what she's looking for/gets what she needs?
This book delivers, and is such a nice surprise. I think "My Jane Austen" (sitting in the corner) read it last night when I went to sleep. I wonder what she thinks of the Kindle?