I entered into this one with no expectations. That's not to say I wasn't hoping to enjoy it, but I had little or no prior knowledge about the author or her work except what I had learned about them while on Twitter (which by the way...she does tweet and is certainly one I'd put on my follow list...if she wasn't already on there...). That's where the beauty of social networks like Twitter come into play. You can "meet" and "greet" people you may have never otherwise spoken to or heard of and actually HEAR them. Does that make sense? Let's see...how to explain it....you know how when you're in a bookstore and you know nothing about an author or a book that you see, something has to draw you in? Be it the cover, title, font, genre, etc...something has to catch your eye. That's one of the things Twitter let's people do...in this case, authors, readers, publicists and publishers. Since you get to set who you see (follow) or don't, your focus is on things you are interested in...BUT it doesn't block out others in the same arena from making their case to you either thanks to RT's and @replies. So in a way it can act as a revolving showcase, forever granting you a view of something more, something new; hopefully that made my point clearer (if not, you're on your own...this is after all a review not just me rambling about the marvels of social networks....).
The book bounces back and forth between present day and memories of the past but does so with an effortless hand. It's quite easy to discern the voice of young Ellie versus her modern self during the shifts, so no need to worry about potential confusion there. While a lot of the action that moves the story forward happens during these lapses into memory, it's a good technique actually...it helps build not only the storyline but the characters you are about to meet. Speaking of this interesting gathering of the minds....
Now the storyline was great with heartfelt laughs and cries, but the ending? The ending was absolutely 'tre magnifique! (Ooh, look, it's Angelique speak! Oh, who's that? Umm, she's Ellie and Di's oh-so-perfect cousin that loves to show off with her French language skills...but she comes around eventually...) I was hoping for an ending that....well, happened the way that it did (hehe, can't spoil it for you...nope....), but as the pages began to dwindle I just wasn't sure what end she would actually meet. I mean, look at her life! Ellie had quite the time there; between the ups and downs, welcoming starts and spills along the way, who knew if she'd end up with a photo finish or merely a cannonball straight to the bottom of the deep end. I sure didn't. But I digress....there is one aspect if which we haven't discussed...the little voice inside her mind. Now, even though Ellie is hearing voices, she's not crazy (the reason behind the voice comes out later in the book), by any means (in fact, I wouldn't mind a guide like her from time to time). Jane Austen's "presence" acts as more of a "visual" reminder of what the story is really all about...the quest to find ones self and true happiness (or at least that's what I took away). It doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. Some find it with friends, some with family, some with their significant other, and others still on their own; it just has to fit the person that it's intended for. If you've found your version of happily-ever-after...I applaud you. If you're like me and still open to the possibility of it (whether actively seeking it or not)....I applaud you as well. As Ellie so gracefully (okay, sometimes not no gracefully) shows us, all the steps it takes to get us to that place go into building the type of character WE are and that's a life changing experience none of us should want to change for the world.
SIGNED and personalized (hehe) copy of the book for review received from the author herself. (THANKS!) For more information on her work both current and past, check out her website or follow along on Twitter! Speaking of current work, while this book was released October 2009....her most recent work Friday Mornings at Nine hit shelves just last week...so happy belated book birthday and be on the look out at your favorite book retailer! Both books were published by Kensington, and are viewable at their website as well as their current catalog.
Until next time...happy reading!