Book: What Would Jane Austen Do?

What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
Reviewed by Lori Twichell
Genre: Comedy, Chicklit, Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: May 5, 2009

For anyone who doesn’t think you can revive a dead career, just look at Jane Austen. I mean seriously. I’m pretty sure her picture is in the dictionary next to ‘comeback.’ So, to celebrate Jane’s increased popularity, I spent some serious time diving into Austen inspired material. Hence: What Would Jane Austen Do?

Now ladies, the cover gave me pause. Serious pause. Have you seen it? Take a gander. Yeah. I know. There’s some serious abs on that cover. And usually, covers like that have some sort of bodice rippage. This one just has the abs. Still, it’s not the kind of book I usually pick up when I stalk the shelves. So let’s get into the story. (Yes ladies, despite the cover there is a storyline and a plot.)

Eleanor Pottinger lives in the modern day and she’s an expert on Regency fashion. Because of this, it stands to reason that she’s spent a lot of time researching the most famous lady of the times, Jane Austen. So Eleanor heads off to a seminar in England about the Regency period and she’s ready for just about anything. Well, she’s ready for anything but the hotel losing her reservation and then sticking her into a suite of rooms that’s already occupied by Deirdre and Mina Cracklebury. What’s so interesting about Deirdre and Mina? Well, they’re dead. And they’ve been hanging out in the room since Regency times cause (surprise surprise) they have some ‘wrong’s in their lives that need to be put right before they can really go rest in peace. Until this happens, they aren’t about to let Eleanor get any rest. In peace or otherwise.

Next big twist? Eleanor goes to sleep in modern times and wakes up facing the very real and very alive Deirdre and Mina. Yes. She time traveled right back to the Regency era. Of course they have no idea where she’s from or who she is and they assume that she’s a long lost cousin who has come over from the Americas. This settles any worry about who she is or why she’s present in their room.

This novel has mystery, romance, adventure and even a few very short moments with Jane Austen herself. It’s a great summer read for the beach or a car trip. This book is a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys romance and a little bit of adventure with a dash of time travel thrown in the mix. Now it’s not Regency Romance with its morals. Eleanor is a modern day woman and she’s got modern day feelings for her romantic interest. She approaches him without conservative constraints, so expect to experience some of what you see on the front cover. The book isn’t solely about physical interaction at all, but it does happen.

All in all, Laurie Brown has created fun characters, seemingly impossible situations and conversations with Jane Austen that are realistic and not overblown. I expected the novel to have more interaction with Austen or to have more about her, but when all was said and done, I was very glad that it didn’t. Where it would be easy to give in to the tendency to bestow Austen with her own words or thoughts, Brown resists the temptation. Instead, she gives us a wonderful slice of a possible moment in time with Jane Austen.

The book also fits nicely into a beach tote and hey, when you’re faced with that one person on the beach that really shouldn’t have their shirt off in public, (You know who I mean ladies. We’ve all seen them.) the cover of the book is also a nice distraction.

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