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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Review: I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend

Author: Cora Harrison



Release date: UK hardback 5th March 2010, this paperback edition 7th January 2011
Genre: Historical fiction
Target audience: 10+
UK Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books


Summary from Amazon:
Based on real events, I WAS JANE AUSTEN’S BEST FRIEND is the secret diary of Jenny Cooper, Jane Austen’s teenage friend and confidante. Their evenings are a blur of beautiful dresses, balls, gossip and romance; their days are spent writing about them - Jenny in her diary, Jane in her first attempts at fiction. When Jenny falls utterly in love with a handsome naval officer, obstacles stand in their way. Who better to help her than Jane herself, who already considers herself an expert in love and relationships?


Review:


I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend is a delightful, witty and entirely addictive historical novel!


I hadn’t really intended on reading I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend but when I ordered it for the library, one of my students asked me to read it before she did in case it had too much kissing. So of course, as a diligent and obliging librarian, I said I would. And I am so glad that I did.


I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend is the story of Jenny Cooper – Jane’s best friend – who documents her life in her journal. Jenny is the heroine of the story and from the very first page I was gripped by her narrative. Talk about an opening! Jenny is desperately worried because Jane is sick with a fever and she thinks she might die if she doesn’t receive some proper care. The two girls are suck at a hideous boarding school with the cruel Mrs Cawley. So Jenny does a remarkably brave and risky thing, she sneaks out at midnight through a window and walks alone through the streets of Southampton to send a letter to Jane’s mother. As Jane rightly says, if this is to be a novel, then a handsome hero must soon appear.


I really loved the historical aspects of this story but I also loved how it felt contemporary too. Jenny is an adorable character. She is shy yet brave, graceful and also grieving for the loss of her mother. Her only remaining family is her brother and his bossy wife. They are the reason she is living in the terrifying boarding school at the beginning of the story. Jenny feels very burdensome to her brother and does not feel she can explain how much she hates it there.


Jane is every bit that you imagine Jane Austen to be when you’ve read her novels. She is incredibly sharp with her wit, tomboyish and loves to make up stories inspired by the people around her. She also has a tender side which is portrayed through her relationship with her brother George.


Once free of the boarding school, Jenny and Jane experience many delights of their time, they go to grand balls, dance, wear beautiful dresses and of course discuss finding love with handsome young men (of fortune).


I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend is an absolute feel good read. I didn’t want the story to end. It was hopelessly romantic and charming. It made me feel giggly and lightheaded. Friendship, romance, humour and the historical setting, make this book so utterly brilliant. I highly recommend it!

19 comments:

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I really want to read this. It sounds so sweet and charming.

Phanee said...

This sounds like an amazing book! Really sweet! I'll definitely try and get my hands on it!

Nina said...

Very charming. I cannot wait to read this book for myself. I really like the sound of their friendship and these characters.

Bookworm1858 said...

Great review-I actually own a copy of this book (Yours has a much prettier cover though) but hadn't read it yet. I definitely want to read this soon now!

Stephanie (Books Are A Girl's Best Friend) said...

I loved this one so I'm glad you did too! I'm really looking forward to the sequel, Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend too, whihc I think comes out some time in the summer :)

Vivienne said...

This sounds like a delightful read. I love this kind of book.

Fiona said...

I really want to read this now. Have just found your blog. It's great. I'm a teen fan. Will put you on my google reader list.

Rebecca-Books said...

I've had this on my bookshelf for a while after buying it reduced in Waterstones, not sure if to read it yet or not.
Sounds like you enjoyed it! I think I might read it soon... :)

Raimy-rawr said...

Aww this sounds like such a cute read! I might have to read this! By the way did it have too much kissing in it?!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

What a great review! I'm glad you enjoyed the book so much. I love Jane Austen and this novel is definitely making it on my to-read list.

Sam said...

This sounds like a really sweet, fun read. I'll look out for it in my library.

Christina / Book Addict said...

Great review, Becky! I have this one sitting on my shelf (it has been for awhile now!) and you have convinced me to read it. I could use a feel good read right about now.

SJH (A Dream of Books) said...

I've seen this in my local bookshop and it looks like a lovely read.

booksntea said...

"one of my students asked me to read it before she did in case it had too much kissing."

Oh my gosh, that is too cute!

While this book does seem a little out of my comfort zone, it seems really charming; I think I'm going to have to give this book a try!

- Jackie

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds truly splendid. I've been quite interested in the book ever since I first saw the cover. Great review darling :)

YA reader said...

This is such a fantastic review - I have got to read this. Thanks for recommending, I will be getting a copy of this one.

Beth Kemp said...

Come on, Becky - tell us about the kissing! :) It does sound interesting though - a great premise.

I Want To Read That said...

I really need to read this! It sounds so good:)

Aimee Corry said...

This Book is AMAZING. It is an awsome romance. Its kinda confusing because frank love jenny and Henry loves jenny but then She meets Captain Thomas Williams again and it get awkward with the other boys in the Austen Family!!!! lol! this is the fourth time im reading it!! I love it that much and always i hate reading the same books twice but this book i really don't mind!You have to read it! I started to cry at one point!