Apr 25, 2009

Review: "What Would Jane Austen Do?" by Laurie Brown

"What Would Jane Austen Do?" by Laurie Brown
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (May 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1402218311
Price: $6.99
The Burton Review Rating: 3 stars

Welcome to Regency England, Eleanor.. our heroine is having a bad day (despite the 12-pack on the cover) when she meets up with some ghosts during her stay at a hotel for a Jane Austen Conference. Sure, as a costume designer she wanted to learn all about the costumes and nuances of Jane Austen's England but she had no idea that she was going to wake up in 1814 and be left to fend for herself while on a mission sent from two (ghosts!) sisters who need her help. Eleanor tries not to stick out like a sore thumb as she is socializing with Dierdre and Mina whom she had first met as ghosts. Their brother Teddy had died, and it is Eleanor who is sent to prevent his duel with Lord Shermont, who is an agent for the crown investigating Napoleon’s spies. Somehow in the middle of the romance and trying to conform to the mannerisms Eleanor needs to change history so that she can return to the present.

As luck would have it, Eleanor learns that she is being courted by Teddy, yet she immediately senses a strong attraction to the mysterious Lord Shermont, as of course all the ladies have.
Eleanor seems to enjoy herself in this fluffy romance and gets to meet Jane Austen and socializes with ladies and gents of the Regency Era.

I enjoyed discovering Regency England through Eleanor's eyes; it was written with a Regency flair with not a lot of major events until the novel picked up the pace towards the end with an unexpected twist which was fortuitous. There was a nice wrap-up at the ending, although a bit contrived and roses and rainbows.. but I was glad that we learn the outcomes of the supporting characters. If you are looking for something new specifically on Jane Austen, this is not it although she is referred to numerous times. The Napoleon intrigue was not very developed, if it had been, it may have been a little less confusing and made me more interested in that historical aspect. The book gives the impression of having glazed over its topics for the sake of expediency. This is specifically about what Eleanor does during her time travel experience and how the ghost sisters wind up. The character of Eleanor is not very dimensional as she was strictly focused on her mission. So if you are ready for more of a no-brainer chick-lit romantic beach read without any major expectations, this is it for you. The author did her research as far as inventions and the types of things that Eleanor missed, such as medicine, bathing and the bathroom necessities of our day. The time travel aspect is a fun idea, and the costumes, dances and supporting characters helped round this book out. Perfect for a summer weekend read while watching the kids play!

The author, Laurie Brown, was once asked "If time travel were possible, would you go and whom would you want to meet?" and voila... we have this book, which is not her first time travel book. Mrs. Brown has cleverly blended time travel and historical romance in her second novel. This is full of romance, a hunky guy, and even some Jane Austen to boot, which I think Regency romance fans would enjoy.

For those of you who are interested more in Jane Austen, please see this Blog which has a lot of great posts about Jane Austen: Jane Austen's World