Author: Cora Harrison
Release date: 1st April 2011 UK
Genre: Historical fiction
Target audience: 10+
UK Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Summary from Amazon:
Jane wants to meet a hero worthy of her extraordinary imagination: a gentleman who is dashing and daring and handsome and brave; who can dance like a viscount and duel like a king. Jane and Jenny are whiling away the season in Bath and there are plenty of dances, rumours and scandals to entertain them. But a good reputation, once lost, is gone forever; and Jane is in danger of becoming the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons…
Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend is a charming historical tale which tells the story of Jenny Cooper – who was very possibly Jane’s best friend. This novel follows on from the romantic endeavours of I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend. I recommend you read the books in the correct order so that you can fully appreciate the sheer delights of this imagining of Jane’s life. This review has spoilers for the first book. So be warned...
Jenny and Jane are very excited at the beginning of the novel. The handsome and gallant Captain Thomas Williams has proposed marriage and Jenny has accepted. But this would not be a truly romantic story if the tale ended there. A true story of love must involve many obstacles. The hero and the heroine must conquer all the trials in order to be rewarded with love.
Jenny’s brother, Edward-John, is a stuffy and weak-spined man. He is far too influenced by his wife Augusta (what a perfect name for a hideous old witch) and she encourages him to prevent the engagement. As her legal guardian, Edward-John has the final say over who may marry young Jenny. Heartbreak and much sobbing ensue but of course the wonderful Captain Williams does not take no for an answer. Let’s hear a young for the naval hero!
This story is told through Jenny’s journal. Her jotting about entertaining conversations, events and Jane’s stories move the plot along. There are also the letters she exchanges with her beaux. But perhaps this is a little more Jane’s story than Jenny’s. We know that Jenny has found an eligible man who will make his fortune. The same cannot be said of Jane. She, as one might imagine, is a flighty and rather intoxicating girl to be around. Men are mesmerised by her charms and sharp tongue which means Jane becomes the object of many single young ladies’ hatred. Jane lives more inside her fantastical musings about the people around her than actually in her own real life. She doesn’t know the true yearnings of her own heart. So does she steal the object of another young lady’s affection? You’ll have to read the book to find out. In truth this is Jane’s journey to find what love is and not what a young romantic novelist might dream it to be. Heroism and chivalry can come in many guises!
This novel takes place in Bath. I loved Harrison’s description of the Royal Crescent, the Pump House and the luxurious shops. It makes me want to revisit bath and especially the Ball Rooms. This story was full of finely researched details. It lavishly portrays the life of the wealthy and their fine attire. I suddenly desire to have a dress made from scratch. Does anyone else ever feel that we have lost some of the beauty of our cultural heritage when we can just buy factory-made clothes?
Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend is the sort of book that should be read in a huge bubble bath with copious amounts of handmade chocolate. It is sheer indulgence. It sweet and entertaining but it is also compelling. I read it in one sitting. I just had to know how it ended. Romantic, endearing and timeless, this book will be enjoyed by giggly girls for years to come. This is series is now a firm favourite of mine.
Thanks to Macmillan's Children's Books for sending the book to review.