Monday, January 18, 2016

A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D Southard

3 Star

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.

Kaley- 3 Star

You've probably noticed I'm the go to reviewer for all things Jane Austen here on Novel Escapes. That's because I just love her books and the way she tells stories. By this point, I've mostly likely read more novels about Jane than actually by her! So, when A Jane Austen Daydream came across our desks, we knew I'd be the one to review Scott Southard's novel.

The novel takes a look at one of the burning questions Janeites have: was Jane ever in love? Scholars and average Joes (or Janes?) love to debate how Austen was able to write the novels she did yet had never been married. Of course, marriage doesn't equal love, especially in Jane's time. It's suspected that there was a man or two she fell in love with over the course of her short life but it's so hard to say for certain what happened. This is what makes novels like Southard's so enjoyable.

It has to be noted, however, that this novel is just that: a novel. Southard has written a work of fiction that is inspired by Austen, both her life and the way she wrote. There's a bit of truth to it but he takes liberties and imagines what could have been. He's upfront about this, mentioning in the preface that "This book is a work of fiction, only marginally influenced by the facts." This isn't a negative. In fact, it's almost welcome. So many books tell the exact same story over and over again and it can be hard to get excited about yet another book about Jane Austen's love life. Southard manages to create something a little different, which is refreshing.

I liked the romance Southard gave Jane. It was, well, romantic. I'm not certain I like the name and certain characteristics that he gave her love interest – it was just a little odd but I'm not telling you because it's sort of a surprise piece of information – but the story, overall, was lovely. I also appreciated that he allowed her to be spunky and intelligent, just as I imagine her.

Overall, I liked A Jane Austen Daydream. Scott Southard has written a story that many Jane Austen fans want to read...they, myself included, want to see a romantic Happily Ever After for the beloved author. It's not one of my favourite Austenesque novels but it was enjoyable all the same.

Thank you to Madison Street Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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