Monday, July 13, 2009

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

Or how I wasted a few days of reading this book when I could have been reading better stuff. I wanted to write this review while my emotions were still raw from reading this drivel. It's very rare that I find a book that I find a book as annoying as I did this one. I know I'm in the minority, but I really didn't like this book.

The last book I found this annoying was Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert-and after many near tosses across the room, I gave that book up. It's still sitting on my bookshelf, but I'm not sure I'll be able to read it.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life tells the story of Emma Grant, a college professor whose career was ruined when she found her husband sleeping with her Teaching Assistant who accuse her of plagiarism. The University of course believes them, and she is fired from her job.

She gets a call from a a mysterious Mrs. Gwendolyn Parrot (who is my favorite character in the book.) about some letters that Jane Austen wrote that are unknown and unpublished to the literary world. To get the letters though, she must first do a series of tasks that bring her to London. Emma's goal is to get those letters publish and salvage her career while exposing Jane Austen as a fraud.

The first half of this book was enjoyable-until Emma starts going on about how broke she is, and how Jane Austen ruined her life. This is said so many times with so many examples that I wanted to scream: "we get it already. Her husband left her broke and ruined her happy ending." When in London she re-connects with an old graduate school friend, Adam who is also staying at her cousins apartment. The two haven't spoken since she married her ex-husband, Edward.

What annoyed me most about Emmas re-found friendship with Adam was after not seeing him for 8 years, she lets him pay for everything, and makes him cart her around England so she can compelete her tasks. She says that she has too much pride to ask Mrs. Parrot for money, but has no problem letting Adam pay for everything. Some where along the way she meets Barry, a college professor from California. As this book was based on Persuasion, I'm guessing he's supposed to be Mr. Elliot.

Possible Spoilers ahead!

She invites him to the theater to finish a task to get another letter instead of asking Adam whose carted her around every where because she's upset with him. (the details of the arguement escape me.) She decides to pawn her wedding rings, and gets so much money she can buy a chanel dress, shoes and purse-but doesn't have enough money to get make up, so she gets a free makeover. This is where I started to lose all interest in the book.

She goes on about completing the tasks while still wanting to publish those letters, even though she was told they wouldn't be published. That's what really put me over the edge...and made me start reading Persuasion so I'd be able to see how closely this story followed the other. While there were similarities, I thought the connection could have been made much better.

In the end the heroine, Emma realizes that Jane Austen didn't ruin her life, she did and ends up doing the right thing but by that time Emma was irredeemable to me. If it weren't for this challenge, I would not have finished this book. I'm glad I got it at the library. Sorry for the lengthy review!! As I mentioned earlier, I'm in the minority-most readers loved this book. I, however did not. ):

A few good things did come out of reading this book: I want to read Jane Ausen's Letters, read more about her life and I started drinking tea again. :)