Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Review: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones

Welcome to the next stop in the TLC Book Tour for Cindy Jones' My Jane Austen Summer.  Be sure to check out the list of participating blogs at the end of this post and read what others are saying about it!

From the back cover:

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield ParkLily has squeezed herself into undersized relationships all her life, hoping one might grow as large as those found in the Jane Austen novels she loves.  But lately her world is running out of places for her to fit.  So when her bookish friend invites her to spend the summer at a Jane Austen literary festival in England, she jumps as the chance to reinvent herself.

There, among the rich, promising world of
Mansfield Park reenactments, Lily finds people whose longing to live in a novel equals her own.  But real-life problems have a way of following you wherever you go, and Lily’s accompany her to Enlgand.  Unless she can change her ways, she could face the fate of so many of Miss Austen’s characters, destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
My Jane Austen Summer explores how we fall in love, how we come to know ourselves better, and how it might be possible to change and be happier in the real world.

*          *          *

The premise of My Jane Austen Summer seemed attractive enough.  I highly enjoyed Shannon Hale’s Austenland, which also features a young lady going away on an Austen novel-themed journey.  It’s also interesting to see how Austenian themes can be woven into modern tales such as this one.  The cover art is gorgeous, and I was all in the moment I saw it.

However, I was unable to connect with Cindy Jones’ first novel as I had hoped.  There were some interesting themes—a romantic story line, family drama and Lily’s growth as a person, but ultimately I came away dissatisfied with it.  For the most part, I found almost all of the characters to be unlikeable, distasteful types that I normally wouldn’t care to spend time with.  Lily was insecure, neurotic and borderline disturbed.  The staff at Newton Priors were neurotic and selfish.  I kept hoping that things would improve, that the annoying traits of the characters would soften or develop into something more palatable, but it just didn’t happen.  I was pleased to see Lily grow a bit of a spine toward the end, but by then it was of no consequence to me.

Ms. Jones is a wonderful writer, phasing thoughts and presenting theoretical concepts (Lily’s imaginary Austen) in interesting ways.  Her literary skills far exceed mine—I am in no place to judge in that department.  Despite my distaste for this particular work, I hope it opens the doors for Jones to continue writing and publishing.  I’d still like to read more from her, as My Jane Austen Summer may have just had incompatibility issues with me as a reader.  It’s clear that Jones is not only a Janeite at heart, but also a well-read individual who has a deep love for literature.  There were even moments in the text that led me to discover new writers, such as Matthew Lewis.  Because of Cindy Jones, I now have Lewis’ The Monk on my Kindle and have added it to my TBR list.

So while I cannot fully recommend My Jane Austen Summer, I might say that certain readers may enjoy it, and I hopefully expect to read another Cindy Jones title in the future.  Check out other opinions on the TLC book tour—they may feel differently and have diverging and interesting thoughts on the subject.

Tuesday, March 29th: Books Like Breathing
Wednesday, March 30th: Unputdownables
Thursday, March 31st: Book Reviews by Molly
Friday, April 1st: My Reading Room
Monday, April 4th: It’s All About Books
Tuesday, April 5th: Bookfoolery and Babble
Wednesday, April 6th: Calico Critic
Thursday, April 7th: Colloquium
Tuesday, April 12th: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, April 13th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, April 14th: Diary of an Eccentric
Monday, April 18th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, April 19th: My Life in Not So Many Words
Wednesday, April 209th: Stephanie’s Written Word
Thursday, April 21st: MariReads



  1. I'm sorry that you weren't able to enjoy this as much as you hoped. Still, I'm glad to see that you're willing to give the author a second chance. Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. Great review! I'm kind of relieved to know that you didn't feel like those characters ever softened because I think that was possibly one of the biggest problems I had with the book -- too many unlikeable characters. I also agree that the author is a solid writer and I hope she'll write more but next time with characters that are easier to connect with!

  3. You know, connecting to a book is such a personal thing. What works for some doesn't work for others.



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