Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
Copyright 2009
Guideposts - General fiction
270 pages
Author's website

Emma's life has recently gone down the drain. A former professor at a prestigious university, she made her living studying Jane Austen and thought her husband was her Darcy or Knightley until a betrayal left Emma alone and jobless. Now she realizes Jane Austen's happily-ever-after romances have misled her.

Lured to England by a woman who claims to possess the correspondence Jane Austen's sister Cassandra told the world she destroyed, Emma ends up finding herself performing a number of tasks and only slowly getting a glimpse of a few choice letters that hint at the reason Austen chose not to share her secrets with the world. She's also thrown into the paths of two very handsome men, one of whom used to be her best friend.

What was Jane Austen's secret? Is Emma being led on a wild goose chase or will she be able to publish the letters and restore her tarnished reputation? And, what about those men?

I read Jane Austen Ruined My Life primarily because I was in the mood for something light; and, a quick perusal of the book made it clear that some fluffy fun was in store. Emma is a basically decent person in a disastrous situation. Low on money, out of a job and humiliated by her husband's affair, spending the last of her money on the chance that Cassandra Austen really kept her sister's letters is a big chance that could cost her dearly if it doesn't pay off.

What I liked about this book:

Jane Austen Ruined My Life is pretty predictable and I was in the mood for a book that was low on brain power. But, Pattillo still managed to surprise me now and then, which is always a positive thing. London is one of my favorite cities, so the setting is a favorite and I enjoyed reading about parts of London and locations related to Jane Austen that I haven't seen or experienced, yet. It was also very fun to read a book with a theoretical "What if?" about Jane Austen, simply because Austen is a fascinating character, herself. And, since Jane Austen Ruined My Life was published by Guideposts, it's clean. It does not, however, have any kind of Christian theme or elements, apart from the fact that Emma is the daughter of a preacher.

What I disliked about this book:

There were a few minor problems with the author's research and those kind of stopped me in my tracks, now and then, just to ponder how on earth she came to write them. For example, when Emma used the Tube, she didn't mention escalators or stairs and there was little description of the hustling, tightly-packed crowds. Instead, Emma boarded elevators. The London Underground is ancient and very unfriendly to the handicapped (and heavy-luggage burdened), although I can't say whether or not the stations the fictional Emma used did have elevators. Usually, they're really tricky to locate and a pain in the patootie to use, though, so it's an odd oversight. Most of the errors I caught or thought I detected (I'm no expert on London, myself) had to do with transportation.

Would I read this author again? Yes.

Cover thoughts: I used to write my thoughts about covers regularly and somehow managed to get away from doing so. This cover appeals to me because the soft edges and bright red against a muted background make for an eye-catching image, in my humble opinion. Does the cover give potential readers a decent idea of what's inside? Well, Emma never did lie around on a bench looking like she had a migraine, but she did sit on one and the cover depicts Emma's distress, so I'd say yes, it's pretty well done.

This is the 6th item I've read or watched for the Everything Austen II Challenge and I'm still pondering whether or not to wrap it up. I have an anniversary edition of the A & E Pride & Prejudice mini-series on DVD, which includes a Jane Austen documentary that I plan to view soon. So, you know . . . I'm going to carry on with my Jane experience, either way.

In other news:

It's raining!!!!! Squeeee!! We have had the longest stretch of no rain or hardly-any rain I think I've ever experienced in Mississippi, so it's pretty exciting. Also, I love a good thundery-rainy day. I spent all afternoon reading myself silly.

Just walked in (in the last week or so):
  • The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook - from B & B Media for tour/review
  • The Secret River by Kate Grenville - from PBS, with thanks to Paula for the recommendation
  • Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye - from PBS, thanks to Amy's excellent review

Things I'm currently pondering:

  • Why are people still signing up to follow my deceased cat on Twitter?
  • Why haven't I bothered to remove my dearly-departed feline's Twitter account? Oh, yes, I remember. Not sure of the password, anymore. Eeks.
  • Should I try to plot or at least come up with an idea for NaNoWriMo or just wing it, like I always have? Winging it seems to work better than planning for me, but I deeply desire to be a planner.
  • Why am I suddenly in the mood to use bullet points?
This seems like a good time for a London photo.

Ah, the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon in London's lovely Green Park.

Happy Reading!

©2010 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. love the things you're pondering!

  2. J.T.,

    I'm doing a lot of pondering, aren't I? Hope I'm not becoming all thought, no action. :)

  3. I read Patillo's Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, which I thought was fun, especially the bit about the original P&P manuscript. I'll probably give this one a try at some point.

  4. Anna,

    I think I have Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart on my wish list. Need to check -- I liked her writing enough that I want to read more. "Fun" is definitely the operative word.

  5. What am I doing indoors - I should be at a park reading just like this guy! :)

    Enjoyed your review! I think that cover is very pretty too. And, wow, you are done with your challenge right? Good for you. I haven't even started mine. Ugh.

  6. Iliana,

    I know! Doesn't that look just perfect? I wish we had a nice park to read in -- one without fire ants.

    Thank you! Isn't that a lovely cover? Yep, I'm technically finished with the challenge, although I am definitely going to watch that Jane Austen bio soon, so I'll wait to wrap up till I have. If you're looking for quick reads, Jane Austen Ruined My Life fits the bill. Watching the movies is a quick and sneaky way to get through the challenge, too. :)

  7. I'm with Iliana! What a nice photo. ;) Ah, I remember the fire ants from when we lived in TX. Ugh!!!

    I'm doing a lot of pondering myself. Still mulling over the idea of ending my blog at the end of the year. Just not much enthusiasm for it anymore...

  8. Les,

    Doesn't that look fun? Fire ants suck!

    You know, if you're tired of blogging, I say give it up. Remember Kookie? I can't even recall the name of her blog, now, but she gave up her blog and lost a ton of weight. She's enjoying herself. However, if you give up your blog, you MUST write me more regularly. That's a requirement.

  9. I liked this book too. I read her other one and it was good also. The cover is appealing with the splash of red. :)

  10. Brittanie,

    Oh, good, I'm glad you liked the other book, too. I like the cover a lot. The cover of the Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is really pretty, too, don't you think?

  11. Thanks for the honesty in the review. Little things like that (errors in transportation, etc.) always annoy me. Especially when the author is writing about things or places I'm familiar with and it's apparent that they aren't!

  12. Holly,

    Those little things bug me, too. I don't think anyone who hasn't been to London would notice or care, but for those who have . . . fair warning. The author has been there, but she had her family with her and I wondered if maybe they avoided the Tube. We took our kids when they were 10 and 17 -- definitely scary dealing with London crowds when you have a very self-confident youngster to keep an eye on.

  13. as to NaNoWriMo - WING IT and have fun! I like the cover. What else? Have a great day!! miss ya, I know I have not been around lately....

  14. Care,

    Okay, I'll wing it! I miss you, too! I haven't been getting around the blog world much, lately. I can't seem to find the time, anymore! Weird! I thought I'd have *more* time when Kiddo left for college!!!


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