5 Literary Cookbooks to Make You Feel Like You’re in Your Favorite Book!

5 Literary Cookbooks

Many readers dream of being able to travel into their favorite book–or at least dream of being able to try the food! Below we review five literary cookbooks that will take readers from Middle-Earth to Regency England.

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The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate MacDonald, Evi Abeler

Anne of Green Gables Cookbook

This book is charmingly illustrated with aptly-named recipes that correspond key moments in the story from Diana’s raspberry cordial mishap to Anne’s liniment cake. There are quotes from the Anne books scattered throughout, so readers know which lines inspired each recipe. Regrettably, however, there is no information on cooking history and only a brief biography of L. M. Montgomery at the end. I wanted to see fun facts about cooking in Anne’s time, even if the recipes are modernized for convenience.

The recipes look easy to make and generally require common ingredients, which is nice. However, perhaps because the book is geared towards children, many of the recipes seem pretty standard, like egg salad sandwiches, shepherd’s pie, and macaroni and cheese. There is nothing I could not already easily make without this book; even the raspberry cordial recipe is just raspberry lemonade.

I did appreciate the cooking tips at the beginning of the book, which make it–along with the simplicity of the recipes–a wonderful gift for children. I do not see myself purchasing a copy, however, since the recipes are so standard that I can already do most of them.

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Dinner with Mr. Darcy by Pen Vogler

Dinner with Mr. Darcy

This book is a delightful foray into the dining and cooking of Austen’s time. I loved the interludes explaining things like when meal times were taken or how tables were set, as well as the notes about how many of these conventions changed during Austen’s own life. The recipes are really interesting as many are probably not meals most would cook or eat today. Many of the meals are very meat-heavy, however, which is not really appealing to me. So any recipes I try out will likely be from the dessert and tea sections.

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The Little Women Cookbook by Wini Moranville

Wini Moranville clearly appreciates Alcott’s work and attempts to offer a cookbook that acknowledges Alcott’s beloved book while also providing recipes for authentic period dishes–thankfully updated for the modern cook. Recipes are mostly based on actual meals and food mentioned in Little Women. But other recipes are those found in the “receipt” book Meg consulted, or recipes that would have been common at the time. The result is that readers will feel confident that they are really experiencing something akin to what diners in the 1860s would have.

Fascinating historical facts and explanations intersperse the book, making it an interesting read for fans of Little Women, even if an individual does not feel like making any of the recipes. For example, Moranville illuminates readers as to the nature of the “messes” Meg cooked for Beth; discusses how the Marches, though poor, managed to afford lobster; and explains what a blacmange is. Other historical notes explain why Louisa May Alcott’s work was filled with apples, or talk about how her father was what we would now call a vegan. Moranville ends up answering questions about Little Women and its author that readers may not have even known to ask.

Easy-to-make recipes paired with full menu suggestions make this a cookbook that I actually use. I have tried the apple orchard chicken, the pickled lime cookies, the Dijon mustard, and the hot milk sponge cake–and I make the sponge cake regularly. I intend to try more recipes since they have all been delicious!

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The Secret Garden Cookbook: Inspiring Recipes from the Magical World of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden by Amy Cotler

This beautifully-illustrated cookbook was precisely the type of book I wished to find after reading The Little Women Cookbook. Period dishes are paired with explanations of how food would have been prepared during Mary Lennox’s time. The author also clearly explains the different types of food that might have been available in the countryside versus the city, and how people of different social classes might have eaten. There is even a section on recipes that were imported from or inspired by the British presence in India. Many of the recipes look delicious, and I have bookmarked a few to try out in the future.

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An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery by Chris-Rachael Oseland

I have to admit that I was expecting more recipes directly inspired by Middle-earth, so I ended up merely flipping through this book and not cooking anything. The dishes are mainly English countryside Victorian fare that J. R. R. Tolkien might have eaten. I was not particularly interested in recipes for things like steak and ale pie, venison cobbler, porter cake, and Yorkshire pudding, however, so maybe I am not the target audience for this book. Also, there are similar recipes in here as contained in The Secret Garden Cookbook–and I thought The Secret Garden Cookbook was superior. I did appreciate the historical notes about cooking and food in Tolkien’s day, however.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Pride and Premeditation


Goodreads: Pride and Premeditation
Series: Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1

Official Summary

When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.

Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.”

Pride and Premeditation is a lighthearted retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that centers the action not around romance, but rather around mystery. Lizzie Bennet is an enterprising young woman determined to uncover the true killer of Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law, lest Mr. Bingley be found guilty instead. Getting in her way, however, is the ambitious (and handsome) Mr. Darcy, who, like Lizzie, wishes to prove himself in order to advance in his father’s law firm. While character names are consistent with the original novel, most of the plot points are not. Pride and Premeditation will likely appeal most to Jane Austen fans who do not find the original text sacred, and who are willing to accept a number of historical inaccuracies along with numerous deviations from Austen’s work.

Like many books written by contemporary authors, but set in the past, Pride and Premeditation imagines an alternative Georgian era, where young ladies have far more agency and social leeway than they really did. Lizzie not only believes that she can one day become a solicitor in her father’s law firm, but also routinely roams about the town all by herself–but also sometimes arm-in-arm with a dashing young man. Unchaperoned, too! Readers looking for a historically accurate depiction of Jane Austen’s time period will not find it here, because, in all truth, being historically accurate would make the plotline impossible. Pride and Premeditation is thus a book best enjoyed by those willing to suspend their disbelief and simply go along with the premise of an assertive Lizzie breaking barriers far before those barriers were broken in real life.

Pride and Premeditation is also best enjoyed by those willing to accept that this story is not a strict retelling. Very little of the original plot remains; even most of the romance has been cut to create more room for mystery. Additionally, most of the secondary characters are relegated to mere background noise. Jane appears only to offer Lizzie her unconditional support. The other three girls periodically show up to say something annoying. Charlotte is a legal secretary and a woman of color, but is underutilized and seems present mainly as an attempt at diversity. While it is fascinating to watch Lizzie try to solve a mystery, it is a real shame that the author does not seem interested in weaving together the threads of multiple tales, as Austen did. This takes away much of the pleasure of the original story.

If one can get past these issues, however, Pride and Premeditation is a fun romp. Yes, the author tries a bit too hard to adopt a writing style reminiscent of Austen’s. And, yes, much of the plot feels like wish fulfillment for contemporary audiences, who seem to like protagonists of historical fiction to be far ahead of their times. And, yet, Pride and Premeditation is an enjoyable read. Because this Lizzie is witty and clever, just like the original. And this Darcy is caring and noble, again like the original And the plot is absolutely a riot. What Austen fan would not find the thought of Mr. Bingley being accused of murder equally hilarious and intriguing? Pride and Premeditation is not like the original, but perhaps that is its charm. It takes an old tale and gives it a clever little twist that many a fan will not be able to resist.

4 stars

Mr. Knightley: My Favorite Jane Austen Hero

Perhaps it is no surprise that my favorite Austen hero comes from my favorite Austen book: Emma. My road to loving Emma was not a short one. When I initially read the book I, like presumably many others, found Emma to be a rather mean-spirited and manipulative individual. How was I supposed to sympathize with her or cheer her on to find true love? Over time, however, I began to see Emma more as a high-spirited young woman who did not know how to guard her tongue. Somehow it feels easier to forgive youthful enthusiasm. At any rate, Emma became my favorite Austen book. But I think Mr. Knightley may have always been my favorite Austen hero.

While I recognize that the large age difference between Mr. Knightley and Emma can be off-putting for modern readers, I still cannot help but appreciate their romance. Some of my favorite love stories are the ones where the characters move from being friends to lovers. And Emma gives me that. Mr. Knightley and Emma have a long history with each other, one that means Mr. Knightley is comfortable giving Emma (much-needed) advice. I love that Emma has someone in her life who cares about her enough to want her to do and be better!

Many of the people around Emma either accept her bad behavior or do nothing but feel sad or offended behind her back. As a real friend, Mr. Knightley calls her out when she is wrong and challenges her to do better. He does not accept her rudeness or call it witty. He does not talk about her behind her back. He is honest with her at all times about what she is doing, the effects it is having on others, and how she can fix it. This is a real kindness, even though it may seem harsh. Emma does not always know how her words and actions are being received by others, and she allows bad influences to let her get carried away sometimes with her little flirtations and “amusing” observations. She needs someone to let her know when what she is doing is harmful because, in the end, Emma does not actually want to cause people harm. A lot of her behavior is her trying to be entertaining because she wants to be liked.

The wonderful thing about Mr. Knightley, however, is that he already likes Emma. He likes her just the way she is, without her needing to put on her cheerful and witty social persona. He has known her for years, seen her at home, seen her interacting with her author, seen her in all her unguarded moments. Emma does not really try to impress Mr. Knightley because she initially just sees him as her father’s friend, not as a potential suitor and perhaps not really as her friend. And so Mr. Knightley knows Emma better than most. And he loves her, flaws and all.

I am sure Mr. Darcy will be many Austen fans’ first choice. And I like Mr. Darcy, too! But I really love how close Mr. Knightley and Emma are, and that they get to build a real relationship on years of friendship and knowing each other. There is something wonderfully sweet about the friends to lovers trope. And I fall for it every time.

Darcy Swipes Left by Courtney Carbone and Jane Austen

Darcy Swipes Left


Goodreads: Darcy Swipes Right
Series: OMG Classics
Source: Gift
Published: 2016


Pride and Prejudice, one of the greatest love stories ever told . . . in texts?!

Imagine: What if Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy had smartphones and dated IRL (in real life)? A classic is reborn in this clever adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice!
A truth universally acknowledged: a rich guy must want a wife.
A terrible first impression.
A couple that’s meant to be . . . if they can just get over themselves. #hatersgonnadate
Don’t miss: Lydia taking selfies with soldiers, Mrs. Bennet’s humble-brag status updates, Lizzy texting from her long walks, and Darcy swiping left on a dance card app.

tl;dr Jane Austen’s most famous novel told through its characters texting with emojis, posting photos, checking in at locations, and updating their relationship statuses. The perfect gift for any teen (or any reader with a sense of humor)!
A glossary and cast of characters are included for those who need it. For example: tl;dr means too long; didn’t read.text

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One might wonder what the point of reading Jane Austen’s classic Pride & Prejudice reduced to texting and emojis is, and when I first started reading Darcy Swipes Left I wondered myself. It felt like a novelty book, something someone thought was an amusing idea and would sell but…might not really be worthwhile reading. I changed my mind by the end of the book, however.

To be clear, this is a book I can only imagine reading once, unlike Pride & Prejudice or the other classic books that the author has given the text message treatment to. However, I did enjoy it–and I think that’s largely because Austen’s story is just so compelling that any sort of retelling or adaptation can’t help but be engaging, as well. I know how the story goes (and I think you’d have to in order to even understand Darcy Swipes Left), but I still wanted to keep reading to see how everything played out. It’s just always interesting to see Charlotte choose to marry Mr. Collins, to see Darcy and Elizabeth change their minds about each other, to see Mr. Bennett’s well-timed quips.

Carbone’s decisions while turning the story into text messages and social media channels are hit or miss. At times, they are extremely amusing, which I think is what appeals to many readers. If you aren’t an Austen purist who will be aghast at the idea of turning her beautiful prose into LOL’s and OMG’s, then watching the characters text each other and send emoji reactions and block each other is just funny. However, I do think some of the adaptation seems a bit forced. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone text with as many emojis the character use in the book, and I don’t think I’ve seen them used quite that way. I don’t know anyone who writes out a work and then puts the emoji for that word right after it, but I got the impression that the author just really needed to cram in the emojis to make her vision for this book work.

Overall, this is fun. I wouldn’t buy it because, as I said, I don’t see the point of ever rereading it. But if you’re the kind of person who would think this is amusing and not a desecration of Austen’s great art, it’s worth checking out.

4 stars

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen


Goodreads: Mansfield Park
Series: None
Source: DailyLit

Official Summary

(Penguin Edition)

Adopted into the household of her uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, Fanny Price grows up a meek outsider among her cousins in the unaccustomed elegance of Mansfield Park. Soon after Sir Thomas absents himself on estate business in Antigua (the family’s investment in slavery and sugar is considered in the Introduction in a new, post-colonial light), Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive at Mansfield, bringing with them London glamour, and the seductive taste for flirtation and theatre that precipitates a crisis.

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Mansfield Park is the first novel by Jane Austen I’ve read (shocking! I know), and I was warned by various friends that it is frequently considered by readers to be Austen’s worse book.  I was confused by this judgment for a large portion of the story, as I enjoyed reading about Austen’s characters, their hopes and secrets and foibles and found the setting and plot generally interesting.  However, my opinion plummeted in the final chapters of the book where Austen seemed to have some characters take wildly unexpected actions to conveniently further some plot points and then rushed the interesting aspects of the conclusion.  I also had to finally admit that Fanny Price is an incredibly bland heroine.

Now, my experience is that if you mention Mansfield Park to someone, after they too mention that Fanny is kind of boring and goody-goody, they’ll generally tell you that what they most remember about the book is that it involves the characters putting on a play—and that this is to some degree what is “unique” about it among Austen’s works.  I found this true.  The play occupies a significant portion of the book and takes a particular place of prominence in the minds of the characters.  To them, the play is either everything they adore about Mansfield Park or everything that ever went wrong.  I found this overblow.  I get the general emotions of the characters on the “inappropriateness” of the play as they were conveyed, but I think this does not entirely translate to modern audiences.  I understand that Fanny and Edmund were shocked, appalled, embarrassed, but I don’t fully see why beyond the general objections that people who were not engaged were practicing love speeches together.  (And also they took over a room without permission to start actually building a theatre, carpenter and all.)  So while this part was interesting, I think it thematically fell bit short for me and took up more of the story than I would have liked.

I enjoyed the other parts of the book more, even if they were more mundane—people going on walks, completing their work, having chats.  Austen gives readers detailed looks into the minds and personalities of a variety of personages, and I think this is one of the things she does best.

It’s just unfortunate that the main character is the most boring of this cast of characters.  The primary thing that anyone has to say about her—and it is said repeatedly—is that no one can find fault in her deportment.  She’s basically faultless.  Even if someone does blame Fanny of some misstep, the readers can see it’s unjust.  Fanny is just blandly good—unless you count her tendency to think about others have clearly less good conduct and thoughts.  Much of the story hinges on the fact that her rival in the love triangle simply does not have the moral ideas one would wish.  It’s dull.  That’s not to say Fanny ought to do something bad or shocking, but she doesn’t even seem to have any hobbies or interests besides “being of help” to others.  Her hobby is being a nice, polite person.

I honestly think Henry Crawford, one of the love interests, is the breakout star of the book.  He has a much more interesting temperament and a gripping character arc.

My only real wish is that Austen would have sustained her characterization till the end.  As I mentioned, I found the end rushed, and I think the characters made choices because Austen found them expedient, not because they really made sense.  The book overall is good, and I think Austen’s prose and insight into human nature win her admiration from me, but I have to take some stars off my rating because of the rushed ending.

3 Stars Briana

December Book Boyfriend Box Review (+Discount Offer)

Book Boyfriend Box

Bailey from the Fictional Fox recently contacted me asking if I would like to receive and review the December Book Boyfriend Box.  The theme is love letters and, in addition to a YA novel, features a lot of unique Jane Austen goodies, which Bailey thought would be perfect for our followers, since so many of you love classics as much as Krysta and I do!

This is the very first book box I have ever received, so I’m rather excited, and I hope this is a book box some of you might like to have on your radar.

Inside the Box

  • We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
  • a quill pen
  • a Captain Wentworth inspired notepad (exclusive, from Drop and Give Me Nerdy)
  • a Pride and Prejudice inspired tea (from First Edition Tea)
  • a Persuasion coaster (exclusive, from Favoring Brave)
  • a Pride and Prejudice inspired lavender soap bar (from The Macbath)




This is really a lovely box. I enjoyed the variety of bookish products in it, and all of them are of very nice quality.  I was initially worried the quill pen might be weighted oddly, since obviously one side is heavier than the other, but it actually writes really well, and the ink is a lot smoother than I was expecting.  It works really nicely on the Captain Wentworth notepad, which does have very tiny ruled lines, but is very cute. Also, I am the type of person who would have no problem ignoring the lines if I wanted. 😉

The soap is very creamy and has a strong lavender scent.  (This may be a problem if you’re scent sensitive, but then I imagine you’re not really in the habit of ordering scented soap.)  If you are in the habit of ordering scented soap, I would not hesitate to check out The Macbath shop on Etsy  I looked up some of their products and the prices, and it is a shop I think I’ll keep in mind for ordering gifts in the future.

The Pride and Prejudice themed tea is a citrus and roasted mate herbal tea.  I don’t drink a ton of tea, though I enjoy it occassionally, but this one smells amazing, and I loved the one cup I’ve made so far.  I think it might also work decently as an iced tea.  The package usually recommends a temperature and brewing time. I just wish, since I don’t really do loose tea, it had recommended how much I should use for one cup, and I had to guess.   (A quick look at  the First Edition Tea Etsy shop suggests there should be two cups worth of tea, but I didn’t use that much and think I will get more cups than that out of it since it didn’t seem too weak to me.)

I, alas, did not use the Persuasion coaster for the tea, but it has a nice cork bottom and looks pretty sturdy, so I’m looking forward to using it in the future.

I also haven’t read We Are Still Tornadoes yet, but I’ll have a review up when I do.  I hadn’t heard of the book before, but the summary sounds really interesting.  There was also a signed bookplate and a note from the authors inside the book, which was a sweet surprise.  Finally, one of the cool features of the Book Boyfriend Box is that there’s a Facebook discussion group for all the books in the boxes, and the one for We Are Still Tornadoes starts January 2.  They also post the discussion questions on their Youtube channel, so I may check one of these options out.


Bottom Line

A lot of attention to detail went into this box.  There’s a note from the Book Boyfriend Box team, a note from the authors of the novel, and all kinds of cute surprises.  I enjoyed the variety of items and also think this box is a good value.  One of the reasons I don’t really subscribe to book boxes is because they’re often on the pricey side.  However, I checked out many of the Etsy shops for the items in this box and definitely think the bookish products and the hardcover novel together are more than worth the price of a single box–and that’s without considering the extra perks that come with box, like the signed bookplate and authors’ note.  This is definitely a box I would consider buying in the future, particularly as a reasonably priced gift for friends.

Want Your Own Box?

Bailey is offering our followers 10% off their first box! February’s theme is sci-fi, and you can order it now.  Use the code PAGESUNBOUND for the discount.

You can also check out the Book Boyfriend Box on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Classic Remarks: Should Jane Austen Be in the Canon?

Classic Remarks 1

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.  Feel free to comment even if you are not officially participating!  This week’s question is:

Should Jane Austen Be in the Canon?

Some argue Jane Austen writes “fluff” and others argue she belongs in the canon because she writes witty social commentary.  Do you think Austen belongs in the canon? Why or why not?

Generally, the two schools of thought I hear when Jane Austen is discussed is either that she “just” writes romances or that, in fact, she writes pointed social commentary and should thus be taken seriously.  Implicitly embedded in this discussion, then, is the idea that romance is not worthy of academic discourse.  Perhaps because romance is traditionally associated with women?

The creation of the canon has led to the idea that the texts that comprise it somehow got there magically by virtue of their own intrinsic and timeless properties.  That is, if you write a great enough book, somehow your work will be universally acknowledged as a classic or worthy of the canon.  This is not strictly true.  People put the canon together–editors, academics, professors–and the canon has changed over time, though few people ever seem to discuss this delicate matter.  Authors that were once considered great have since faded away as tastes have changed.  Turns out the canon isn’t as timeless as its proponents might want you to believe.

This means that the books in the canon are in many ways books that share the same properties, properties that the literati tend to value at this moment in time.  Think about what your instructors may have emphasized when teaching literature. Complexity.  Word choice.  Things like the Other, interiority, or what it means to be human.  Someone could write a great book, but if it doesn’t fit into the categories currently encompassed by the canon, it’s not going to be admitted.  And if you look at who is admitted, it tends to be white males.  Writers like Jane Austen, women, who may focus on domestic matters, women’s issues, or romance apparently aren’t complex or deep enough by canon standards to gain entry.

Jane Austen, however, is, of course, complex in her own way.  You can read her books as straight romance and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Literature as entertainment or escape should not be devalued.  But there are layers of social commentary, from the subtle digs at Mr. Collins to the fate of Charlotte to the almost glaring absence of commentary on Mr. Bennett’s running of his household.  Austen lived in a time when women were commodified and struggled to find ways to achieve personal fulfillment and happy marriages within a system that dictated what they could and could not do, and what their value was based on their families and fortunes.  And she did not let that elude her when she wrote.

I realize that the canon is ostensibly selective because you’re still supposed to be able to read all or most of it,  but the reality is that the canon is already pretty unwieldy for the average person, and it could use the admittance of a few women and writers of color.  I think Jane Austen should be there since she does give her readers a lot to think about and bears rereading–and rereadability is what I think makes a great book.  We don’t even need to think about her social commentary in terms of her worthiness–I think her work is valuable in other ways as well and that romance itself is a category that can be analyzed discussed in an academic setting.  Austen may not fit the mold the current canon demands, but the canon has never been static.

Leave your link below!

Krysta 64

I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Cora Harrison

Jane Austen's Best FriendInformation

Goodreads: I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend
Series: Jane Austen #1
Source: Purchased
Published: 2010

Official Summary

When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this dashing man?

But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor orphan girl to do?

In this delicious dance between truth and fiction, Cora Harrison has crafted Jenny’s secret diary by reading everything Jane Austen wrote as a child and an adult, and by researching biographies, critical studies, and family letters. Jenny’s diary makes the past spring vividly to life and provides insight into the entire Austen family—especially the beloved Jane.


I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend is precisely the type of book one would probably expect it to be from the title, a light and fun YA read about a young girl who dabbles in intrigue and romance because she’s Jane Austen’s best friend (and Jane Austen even as a teenagers has a sharp wit and keen eyes).  The book is just the thing for someone looking for some delightfully fluffy entertainment, with spunky female protagonists and some eighteenth century heartthrobs.

The official summary promises romance from a handsome naval captain, but I found that somewhat misleading.  Jenny does run into a handsome gentleman with smoldering eyes early in the novel, but it takes him about halfway through the book to come back.  In the meantime, Jenny occupies herself considering other desirable men and getting into small adventures with Jane.  The Austen family participate in lots of old-timey entertainment, such as putting on a family play, riding horses, and walking to the village for the latest posts.

The pacing can seem a bit slow, as the plot often doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, just following Jane’s and Jenny’s day to day lives, but it’s kind of fun to see what they get up to.  The author tries to throw in some minor scandals, but she sort of relies on the characters saying “How scandalous! I hope no one finds out!” rather than trying to convince readers there’s a real, shocking problem.  I understand it might be a hard sell to modern audiences (Women walking alone! Reputations, ruined!), but I would have liked to see Harrison use a little more showing rather than telling.  I generally like old books and try to buy into their mindsets to some degree, so it was disappointing Harrison couldn’t quite get me into the eighteenth century here.

As someone who hasn’t actually read any Jane Austen (*gasp*), I can’t tell if this book would be more or less delightful for a true fan.  Harrison includes supposed scraps from Jane’s current, teenage writings and alludes to events from her published books.  She also draws on Austen’s biography, and letters from contemporary family members, to help plot the book.  I’m guessing, but I think an avid Austen fan might find this type of historical fiction to be disappointingly covering things they already know, while fans who love Austen’s works but aren’t caught up in history or academic discussions might find the allusion to her books entertaining.

This book, then, was mostly fun.  I was looking for something just fluffy and entertaining to read, which is why I picked this one up.  It satisfied me in that respect, and I think readers who normally like Jane Austen-themed books will enjoy it.  I’m just not overly excited about it otherwise.

3 starsBriana

Your Entertainment Outlook 5/3/15

A Snicker of MagicThe sun keeps on shining on Natalie Lloyd’s (A Snicker of Magic) career. The children’s author announced that she will be publishing a series about “seven strange siblings” called The Problem Children with HarperCollins, starting 2017. Lloyd will be publishing a middle grade book, The Key to Extraordinary, with Scholastic in 2016.
The outlook is still bleak for equality for “boy” and “girl” media. Shannon Hale blogged this past week about the frequency with which she encounters young male students booing any mention of “girl” media during her school talks.
Partially Cloudy
The identity of the “historical Mr. Darcy” may finally be coming out into the open. Historian Susan is reporting that Jane Austen may have based her dreamy character on the first Earl of Morley, John Parker. You can read about the theory here.
rainbow weather
Nancy Drew turned 85 on April 28. To celebrate, Nancy Drew Sleuths is holding their annual convention in Iowa near the home of Carolyn Keene. Her Interactive will be releasing their latest Nancy Drew video game, Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness.
When Marnie Was ThereOn May 22, Studio Ghibli will release in American theatres what is potentially their last feature film: When Marnie Was There, an adaptation of the novel by British author Joan G. Robinson. The film was released in Japan in 2014.
Amusement parks are about to get a whole lot darker. Lionsgate has partnered with Dubai Parks and Resorts to open a Hunger Games themed park in 2016. Details of possible attractions are still unknown.

What entertainment news are you most looking forward to this week?

If You Like Stories Inspired by Jane Austen, Then Read…

If You Like, Then Read is a feature where we offer reading suggestions based on books you already like, scheduled once a month. If you have more suggestions, feel free to tell us in the comments! You can check out the rest of these lists here.


Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Sisters Jane and Melody have no inheritance, but Jane possesses great magical talent while Melody possesses an attractive face.  While Jane attempts to learn more magic from the glamour artist Mr. Vincent, Melody finds herself entangled in a disastrous romance.  Though the two envy each other for the traits they themselves do not have, Jane finds herself utilizing her skills to protect her sister from an undesirable suitor and, in the process, discovers love herself.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes has accepted the fact that none of the men she dates in real life can compare to her fantasy boyfriend–Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth.  Before giving  up romantic relationships for good, she decides to have one last fling and to vacation at Austenland, an exclusive retreat where women dress up in Regency clothing and flirt with eligible men.  However, even as Jane tries to harden her heart, she finds that real romance might be blooming underneath the acting.  Followed by the companion book Midnight in Austenland.

A Touch of Night by Sarah A. Hoyt and Sophie Skapsi

In England some people, known as weres, have the ability to change shape during the night.  The law mandates that all weres be killed on sight, so the rest of society can remained protected.  Elizabeth Bennett believes that weres should be treated as people and not animals. However, when a handsome dragon appears in the countryside, Elizabeth will discover that mixing with weres can prove extremely dangerous.

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Seventeen-year-old Althea’s ancestor built his dream house, a castle, on the cliffs of Yorkshire.  Time and the weather, however, have weakened the structure and penniless Althea and her mother can do little to save their home.  Convinced that the only solution to their problem lies in her marrying well, Althea determines the win the heart–and the wealth–of the newly arrived Lord Boring.  Lord  Boring’s friend Mr. Frederick, however, has a terrible habit of ruining all her plans.

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

In this modern-day retelling, Lizzie Bennet and her friend Jane are in dire need of dates to the Longbourn Academy prom.  Well–at least Jane is.  Lizzie couldn’t care less about the dance, or dresses, or boys.  And she certainly finds Will Darcy insufferable!

I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Cora Harrison

Harrison imagines Jane Austen as a teenager and tells this story from the point of view of her best friend and cousin Jenny Cooper.  Though Jenny adores Jane and is excited to be spending the summer with the Austens, she gets to live her own storybook romance when she meets the dashing Captain Thomas Williams, even if it’s under slightly improper circumstance.

Want more Jane Austen? Check out our other posts.