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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers! Today's post coming at you straight off of the reading assembly line...meaning I just finished reading it yesterday, hurriedly typed up the review just after devouring the last few pages, and posted it today....why? No, there wasn't a deadline...it was merely because I couldn't wait to share!

Being that it is 'Spooktacular Finds In Reading' month, I said I was tying everything into the spooky creepy seasonal category in one way or another. We started the week off with dragons...hey fire breathing reptiles are pretty scary! Today...GHOSTS...or rather ONE GHOST to be precise and she's a doozy too! Though the cover may not scream BOO...the ghost is still there....in her mind. Curious? (*hopes for a nod to the affirmative*) I thought you might be. Today's book of choice is....

According to Jane
by
Marilyn Brant

Ellie Barnett is your average girl.  She's smart, courteous, a bookworm at heart...oh, and ever since her high school lit class passed out Pride and Prejudice for a class assignment....she's had the ghost of Jane Austen living in her mind.  Yep...just your typical teenage girl.  Nothing unusual here.  *whistles*  Let's say for the sake of argument that this development was a bit unusual...how bad could it be?  She has someone there to talk to when the days get dreary or dull, someone to give her advice on random instances in her life, and someone to guide her on the path to finding her true love...oh, wait a second, didn't Jane Austen actually live her life out sans man but with the companionship of her sister?  Something tells me that in this area alone, their opinions may differ...leading to some rather interesting situations to say the least.  Would Jane Austen and her words of wisdom have fared as well in the world as we know it today?  She and Ellie both are about to find out...

Ever have a moment where you just couldn't type fast enough to get the words out? I mean where speaking them aloud doesn't seem to help either? Okay, so if you're a reader you've probably had that experience more than once.....for me, it happens every time I really enjoy a book. The words just seem to flow like an unending river and there is no stopping them. Even in cases such as this where I end up worrying if readers are getting too much from what I include or if I'm being too long winded to suit the online reading format for a blog because let's face it, too long and depending on content, the mind wanders, it happens....I just can't seem to stop. This book created such a case.

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....

The characters were vivid and memorable....from the scary Aunt Candice (scary as in authority figure you wouldn't want to cross) to Di, Ellie's rebellious sister (whom we come to know better as the story progresses), from Brent the 'Strip Go Fish' college guy (yeah...hilarity ensues there and a good example of one of the steamy situations, though not the most steamy) to Sam the....oh, no words would suffice, though if you ask Jane, she'd have a string of them. Then we have the main star of this tale....Ellie Barnett...oh and Jane's ghostly presence in her mind, but she'll have to sit tight for a second. Ellie is endearing in all the right ways. She's a self-proclaimed geek, being both a book reader and quite studious. She has a few friends that are about as close as she will let them be (hey protective barriers exist for a reason). She has Sam...her best guy friend though that relationship is something that will haunt her in many ways as the years go by, some of which are quite unexpected but relevant nonetheless to her growth.  Yes, a great blend of smarts, spunk, and self reflection indeed amongst this group.

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.


Readers beware...there are a few things you need to note about this book aside from the utter fun I had in reading it....though it was quite a lot. First, there are certainly a few blush-worthy situations so if you can't stand a little heat as they say, apply caution before entering the kitchen. We're not talking X rated (though I haven't read a book of that nature, I'm basing it on what I would think one would be like) but it is a mix of strong PG-13 and maybe a tinge of R at points so just proceed with the knowledge that gives you.  Second, do not be surprised if you find yourself wanting to rush out and either read or re-read Pride and Prejudice upon the books completion. In my case, it would be read as I haven't yet (PUT THE BOOK DOWN....no pelting of the reviewer allowed....besides I have a feeling your computer would not do well with a dent the size of your latest read in its screen) put as I've enjoyed the movie in the past and the reminder of Jane's ever present strong will, formidable ideas, and influential candor, it just might end up in the TBR soon enough. Last but certainly not least, there is a rather unique Q&A at the end of the book where Ellie (and friends) interview (and harass) the author giving you a look at how she came to be a writer and why she chose Jane Austen (or did she choose her?) as her book's "mentor"...among other fascinating bits.

So, do I recommend you read it? Well (YES), if my experience sounds good to you (YES) then I'd say (YES)...GO FOR IT! It was a great read, a step away from same old same old that I've read of late (not complaining about them, just saying "different" is not a bad word) and one I soon won't forget. So, yes...recommended for older teen readers through adult...and certainly to Jane Austen fans looking for a look at the author from a new stand point that doesn't involve paranormal creatures (okay so she's a ghost, but you know what I mean).

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!




9 comments:

Cleverly Inked said...

Same for me, That is when I like a book the words come tumbling out.

....Petty Witter said...

Hmm, not too sure about this one but thanks for the recommendation.

Teresa said...

MUST READ THIS BOOK!! I thought so before reading your review, but now I'm convinced that I must do it soon.

Marilyn Brant said...

GR~Thank you ;). I was hoping you'd enjoy According to Jane and am just thrilled that was the case! Thanks for the time you devoted to reading it and to writing such a thoughtful review. And, ALSO, for explaining some of what you love about social networking!!! (I'm SUCH a Twitter newbie still, so your opinion on how it works for you is really helpful. :-) You definitely made my day!!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great review :) Vivid and memorable sold me :)

Christie (The Fiction Enthusiast) said...

Great review! I really enjoyed this one.

NotNessie @ Today's Adventure said...

Sounds like you REALLY liked this one! I might just have to check it out.

GMR said...

Cleverly Inked: Yes, it just makes it that much more fun to write!

Petty Witter: Kinda figured you might say that....not quite your cup of tea, but thanks for stopping by anyway! ^_^

Teresa: Alright! ^_^ When you do, feel free to share what YOU thought of it...

Marilyn Brant: You are most welcome! Thank YOU for the great read. Regarding Twitter...it's MADE for newbies, so any time you've got a question....just put it out there! Someone is always happy to help... ^_^ (Thanks for stopping by here too! *big smile*)

Juju: Wow... O_O That is a compliment indeed...thanks!

Christie: Aww...thanks!

NotNessie: How could you tell? LOL. It was definitely fun...if you try it, let me know! Would love to see what you thought of it...

Bri Meets Books said...

You should mail me this! :) I want it after reading this review!

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