A Jane Austen Daydream: Scott D. Southard

Good evening readers, this blog post comes from a very calm and collected little blogger. These last couple of weeks have been really busy and a combination of late nights, looming deadlines and general stress has lead to a very (very) tired Lizzy. A weekend just reading, writing and sorting through emails whilst watching girly films has sorted this little blogger right out and I’m now on course for a much calmer month ahead. This review comes from an author who emailed me back in May so sorry it’s taken so long, but it’s finally here; hope you enjoy.

All her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane? Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess. Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for Jane.

Have you ever wondered what the life of an author was like, say Jane Austen? Well look no further, in this delightful book Scott, D, Southard has done just that! If you are an Austen fan definitely look into this book as it will really surprise you. I really loved the way that the book is written in the same style as the author herself and the way that her life is populated by the same types of character that we could (and do) find in her very own books. I really enjoyed the concept of the book as it takes a biography style but a fictional form which was incredibly clever (can someone do one for Roald Dahl?) Although an interesting concept the book is a light-hearted affair and you can read it with very little or no knowledge as to Austen herself and still enjoy it. I am a terrible reader of the classics as I very rarely find myself making time to discover them however I still found this a lovely little read. I did also like that the book is only loosely based on Jane Austen’s life and follows her from around the age of twenty to thirty five however it does incorporate events that did occur to Jane including the death of a future brother in law and a move to bath. Jane also throughout entertains a number of interesting potential suitors and the mix again between real and daydream creates an interesting mix to interest the reader.

Although the concept is brilliant I did find a few minor faults with the actual construction of the novel. Firstly, I thought Jane was wonderfully whimsical and delightfully youthful but at times she was a little overplayed in terms of being a little impressionable and vulnerable. Yes, she stands up for herself and is determined but I would have liked her a little more steadfast. Also, the book is incredibly long. At over 400 pages it could have been edited down a lot and that would have helped to move the narrative on at a much quicker pace. Additionally for me some of the passages really dragged and I found myself losing interest but with a snappier, sharper edit it could have drawn me into the story with more power. There is of course no evidence that Austen pulled plot lines from her own life and that her characters did in fact come from people that she met in real life however in this respect the book is a little fun for the imagination. I guess it must be said in this respect if you are looking for something that is fact over fiction I would suggest this isn’t for you. (Unless you like a little challenge and fancy looking for the lesser known characters and quotes that I most definitely missed!)

Too sum up, I really liked this book especially the thought behind it, and I really found myself getting involved. With a more decisive and harsher edit the book would have had a snappier feel and the pace would have moved with more style and derision and would keep the reader more entertained. I think for a real lover of Austen this would have been more powerful as a book but it’s a lovely idea and I really did enjoy reading it.

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