by Rachel Givney
Publication date: October 27, 2020
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
(Did I mention I was an Austen fan…)
Jane Austen finds herself in modern-day England after being promised that a spell will lead her to true love. She befriends Sofia Wentworth, who coincidentally is starring in a movie adaptation of Northanger Abbey, and finds a potential love interest in Sofia’s brother Fred. Just as she finally has love within her grasp, time travel deals her a harsh blow: staying means her literary works will disappear from history but returning home means she will lose a love that doesn’t exist in her time.
The beginning is a bit slow but picks up once Jane has been in the present for a while. There are multiple storylines, making it difficult for the author to allot enough time for each to appropriately play out. There’s Jane and Fred falling in love. There’s Sofia trying to figure out how to get Jane back home. Then, there’s Sofia trying to get back with her husband. At first, the latter story seems a bit out of place but Givney does successfully connect it all in the end.
With so many moving parts, I sometimes did not know what I was getting in the next chapter. A lot of time was spent on Jane’s marveling at the new world and trying to get around that I don’t think enough was spent on establishing Fred and Jane’s relationship. They do have some cute moments but I’m not sure if I could add it up to love so quickly. Their relationship felt rushed. But, that could just be the skeptic in me. Sometimes when you know, you just know I guess.
The other story I wanted more time with was that of Sofia and her ex-husband. Sofia initially came across snobbish but she quickly became a favorite character. Her personality grew on me, and she had some of the funniest lines in here. One of my favorites is probably at the hospital, and she’s talking to the doctor: “ ‘What’s the prognosis, Doc?’ Sofia asked. ‘Don’t dumb it down. I did a three-episode special-guest run on ER where I played a beautiful but troubled neurosurgeon.’” I couldn’t stop laughing. I think Sofia’s story could have been a book of its own. I would definitely pick that one up.
There doesn’t seem to be any rules with the time traveling. Jane travels through time and items travel with Jane. How does it work exactly? I’m not really sure but if you just take it as is and not ask a lot of questions, then you’ll be fine. The book is somewhat predictable as well but it doesn’t necessarily take away from being able to enjoy the book. If anything, you just have to stick through Jane seeing the modern world and once you do that, the rest is a good read (much closer to a 4 star).
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was slow to begin but once friendships were formed and love was found, I was fully immersed in the novel and invested in the relationships. The ending was expected, albeit bittersweet. Givney does an excellent job of tying everything in but it nevertheless left me a bit dejected, making me wonder if Austen’s true ending was still a happy one… because I like her and I want people I like to have happy endings.