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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Moonlighters Review of According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

When I first read the premise of According to Jane, I thought, Well, this could be interesting. A young girl inspired by the voice of Jane Austen, whose ghost has taken up residence in her head? Well, that was different. But I like Jane Austen and I've read and enjoyed several books inspired by her, so when I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book, I took it. And I am so happy that I did. According to Jane is everything you could wish for in a book. It's funny, it's witty, even poignant at times, and it's one of those books that grabs you from the beginning and won't let go until you're finished. It's a book that you think about in the down time between readings and stays with you after you finish it. an absolute dream of a book.

According to Jane tells the story of Ellie Barnett: Just your average high school kid until the day that Jane Austen comes to visit her mind - and stays there. the dialogue between them is sharp, witty, sometimes cutting, but always insightful. You see, for some reason, Jane has become Ellie's champion and has taken it upon herself to guide Ellie through the treacherous grounds of high school into adulthood. And Ellie, after a time, even learns to welcome it - for the most part. There are times when she decides to tune out Jane completely and she suffers the consequences for doing so. Especially when it comes to Sam Blaine, whom Jane describes as Ellie's own Willoughby. Sam is the ideal crush material - until he opens his mouth and some unflattering things come out. Sam is always giving Ellie a hard time, which sometimes leads them into trouble, both at school and beyond, when they are both adults. But he isn't just a pretty face. He can be kind and caring and even chooses to go into a noble profession. Sam is more than just a Willoughby; he is far more complicated and multi-layered than the original Willoughby. But of course Ellie doesn't realize this in the beginning. This is one of the lessons that she has to learn on her journey with Jane.

If I had to complain about one thing in this book, it's that there wasn't enough Sam! As I read it, I found myself breathlessly awaiting the time when he would reappear in Ellie's life and they would realize they were meant to be with each other. Then he would appear and I would think, Yes! only to have them part ways again, which left me unfulfilled. And whenever Ellie was with someone else, I secretly thought, No, she should be with Sam, or I like Sam better than this guy. But I suppose that this is a great testament to the storytelling; I became invested in Ellie's life and, much like Jane, I wanted her to make the right decisions. I found myself echoing Jane's sentiments and silently imploring Ellie to listen to Jane, take her advice. This, to me, is the mark of a good writer. Ellie's story became my story and I didn't want it to end, but when it did, I was satisfied with the way it turned out and already thinking of when I would read it again.

So does Ellie take Jane's advice? Does she end up with Sam - or someone else? And does she ever discover why Jane Austen's ghost took up residence in her mind? If you want to find out the answer to these questions, do yourself a favor and get a copy of According to Jane. You will be glad that you did.

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8 Moonbeams (comments):

Molly Daniels said...

Okay have piqued my curiosity! Does she or doesn't she end up with Sam? Grrrr....and Christmas is two months away! You really know how to torture a reader, don't you?

Marilyn Brant said...

Margay, thanks so much for the lovely review and taking time to spread the word about 'Jane' :). Wishing you and your readers a fabulous fall!

Sheila Deeth said...

Okay, this sounds fun. I've read about it before, but this review makes me much more interested. Sounds really neat.

Carrie said...

Okay, this does sound like a cool book! And it has a ghost to boot!

Margay Leah Justice said...

Sorry, Molly, but I wouldn't be doing my job as a reviewer or a writer (just ask Carrie and Gracen - they are in agony over what happens to Athena and Gabriel in The Jane Austen Society Pages) if I didn't torture my readers with anticipation. Believe me, you will be glad of it in the long run. This is that kind of a book.

Margay Leah Justice said...

Marilyn, it is my absolute pleasure - as was reading this book. I loved it from beginning to end and I want to share that love with everyone. This was a fabulous book and I can't wait to see what you do in the future.

Margay Leah Justice said...

Sheila, it is really neat. Very unique. And a quick read, too, which in some cases - like when you want to stay with the characters for a long time - is not always a good thing. I was very satisfied with this book, which is only the second time in the past few months that I can honestly say that.

Margay Leah Justice said...

And, Carrie, the way that she writes the ghost is unique. A nice twist. Can you tell I really loved this book?