Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
Emma Grant has been offered a mysterious opportunity to travel to England and research a huge lot of letters purportedly written by Jane Austen. Conventional wisdom holds that Jane’s sister Charlotte destroyed these letters upon Jane’s request. If these letters prove to be authentic, it would be a huge boon for her career as a college English professor specializing in Jane Austen. Emma’s reasons for taking this trip aren’t purely professional. In fact, this offer merely provides her with a plausible excuse to leave the United States. Her marriage and her career are in the toilet. Basically, her life is a mess and she places the blame squarely at Austen’s feet. Jane Austen, through her fiction, made her believe in such things as happy endings. Had she not taken Austen “at her fiction,” she wouldn’t have been so blindsided by her philandering spouse. She would never have given him as much power in her professional life, either. In reality Emma is making this trip, for which she is draining her entire life savings, to run away from her troubles while seeking revenge against her favorite author at the same time.
Jane Austen Ruined My Life is light and fun. There are references to Austen throughout, making me feel at home with Emma. Although I did find the main character’s resentment of Jane Austen a little heavy handed, I think that Emma always knew that this attitude was a crutch. There was a lot of humor in Emma’s story and within her thoughts that reminded me a little of Bridget Jones’s Diary. Intermixed with Emma’s personal drama is an interesting mystery surrounding the supposed letters written by Jane Austen. I got a little caught up in the mystery myself, imagining what it would be like to be on the cusp such a discovery not only as a college English professor, but as the fan of a beloved author. The ending was unconventional, and although I think I would have made different decisions, Emma’s choices were uniquely and authentically hers. I think this would make a great beach read, especially if you can’t afford to pick up and head to London to visit the places where Jane Austen lived her life.
Literate Housewife & Christian Fiction
When Phenix & Phenix contacted me about this book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it. The idea of blaming Jane Austen for ruining your life sounded fun and interesting. I didn’t research the book or the author any further because, quite honestly, they had me with the title. I don’t normally read Christian fiction, so when I opened the package and noticed that the book was published by Guideposts, it knocked the wind out of my sails. It’s not that I don’t think that Christian authors can write well or even tell a wonderful story. I know that’s not true at all. There are some many wonderful authors of all faiths throughout the ages. I just don’t like to be preached to in my fiction – be that about religion, politics, philosophy, etc, and I find that modern Christian authors are not subtle in their evangelization.
To use a biblical phrase, I gird my loins in prepraation for reading a book that I believe will spend most of its energy beating me over the head with its message. With Jane Austen Ruined My Life, this was completely unnecessary. Had I not recognized the publisher, I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up on the author’s faith at all. True, Emma’s father was a preacher and, in one phone call, he encouraged her to go to church, but that was just another parallel between Emma and Jane Austen. Besides, what parent doesn’t nag an adult child about one thing or another? While Emma is a moral character, I didn’t feel as though she made her decisions solely on the basis of morality. I didn’t pick up on any preconceived formula to lead her or anyone else back into the fold. She grew a lot and learned a lot about herself over the course of her trip, but she didn’t have the great religious epiphany I was dreading. If you havae similar views about Christian Fiction, I happily suggest that you give Jane Austen Ruined My Life a try.
Click here for a short biography about the author, Beth Pattillo.
To buy this novel, click here.