Review: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones

Posted May 15, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

I hope everyone had a great mother’s day weekend. This afternoon I have Sophia Rose back with another review to start this lovely week. Hope you enjoy it and leave her some love.

Review: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy JonesMy Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones
Series: standalone
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on April 1st 2011
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 324
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

A down on her luck woman goes on an Austen-inspired journey of self-discovery in Jones's middling debut. After Lily Berry loses her mother, gets dumped by her boyfriend, and is fired, she finds in her passion for all things Jane Austen (Jane, indeed, is Lily's imaginary friend) an escape route: she travels to England to participate in a Jane Austen re-enacting festival. Full of enthusiasm—but not acting talent—Lily is not embraced by many of the Janeites, but this doesn't prevent her from meeting a charismatic actor, contending with an impossible roommate, and struggling with dark family secrets, all while trying to find the courage to be the protagonist of her own story. While Jones does a credible job of creating a heroine in transition, Lily's process of self-realization isn't nearly as involving as the subplots, which is quite unfortunate, considering how much time is devoted to sussing out her issues.

This book has been setting on my shelf for some time. I originally picked it up because I loved the idea of reading about a woman traveling overseas to work a summer gig as an actress and all around Girl Friday at a Jane Austen festival held on an English country estate. A fun ‘travel themed’ group read with my GoodReads group gave me the motivation to get going with this book.

I dove in with a little excitement and soon sat back on my heels. This was not going to be a light and fun summer read like I expected. The heroine, Lily, goes well beyond quirky. She has some very real issues that she is refusing to acknowledge by hiding between the covers of her favorite Jane Austen novels- her mother’s death, her father’s rapid replacement of his wife with a younger model, losing her job, losing her boyfriend whom she stalks thinking he’ll change his mind though he has moved on, and finally her determination that she can live out a life like/as a Jane Austen heroine got into some heavy issues and set the tone and pace of this slow moving gentle story.

There is a strong connection to Mansfield Park which I thought was handled well in a modern story. It’s not a one to one correspondence like a retelling which I thought was a smart move. It’s there and noticeable especially when Lily herself starts to not just realize, but purposes to follow the formula in the original novel seeing herself as Fanny Price fending of a rich man’s tempting assurances, pining over a man who has committed to someone else, dealing with disappointment and jealousy over a rival, and being tempted to be the woman who was seduced then discovered she was temporary goods.

While I appreciated some of this story, I stayed disconnected from it and the heroine throughout. I was glad to see her growing and finding herself, but my practical side kept screaming at me that she needed to seek some counseling to deal with the losses and grief and her unhealthy retreat into her imaginary world. She was very deep into that world and stayed there which I think plays a huge role in why I couldn’t get into her- I couldn’t find the real Lily very well. And that ending. Open. I know some people not only tolerate, but love them. I fall at the other end of the spectrum.

I think when all’s said and done, I would have appreciated this more if I would have anticipated this book differently. I didn’t pay attention to the way it was classified and labeled. I went in seeing a light, even comedic, read when it was more a serious women’s fiction about a heroine finding herself and putting distance with her past issues and fails.

So, it was a little satisfying and I’m glad I read it, but it is a story that left me still wanting.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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22 responses to “Review: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones

    • Sophia Rose

      Yeah, sometimes it hits these issues that can be a drag just when I’m wanting something fun and light. 🙂

    • Sophia Rose

      It does have some cuteness to it, but it hits some heavy theme elements. I did want to love it, but oh well. 🙂

    • Sophia Rose

      Yes, I wasn’t expecting all that, Carole, but at least it wasn’t too light and fluffy. LOL

      Yeah, bummer I couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to.

  1. Wow love that cover, but this sounds kind of depressing. I hate open endings as well, even if they may be considered more realistic I like my entertainment nice, tidy and wrapped up. Sorry to hear this wasn’t the light, fun read you expected. Great review, Sophia Rose! 🙂

    • Sophia Rose

      I agree. It’s a pretty cover and it made me think light and fun, but yeah it had some heavier stuff going on.

      Grr, this ending. There was one plot thread I was really hoping for a solid conclusion and that was the one that was left open of course. LOL

      Thanks, Rachel!

    • Sophia Rose

      Me, too, Melliane. It was worth it just to get the fun surrounding an Austen play festival and the connection to Mansfield Park.

  2. Eh…. this one didn’t appeal to me anyway as I am not a huge Austen fan, yes I know, gasp. I think I will pass, it doesn’t sound like you were over the moon over it, plus I want light and fun.

    • Sophia Rose

      Yeah, definitely a pass for you, Heidi. 🙂 No need to gasp. We all like what we like and this one was a bit heavy for me when I was looking for fun and light. Maybe next time.

  3. I’ve been burned like this too. My fault for always skipping reading blurbs and such, I always want to go blind when reading and sometimes blurbs can be spoilery for me. Oh well, at least it wasn’t a total waste, you still manage to get some enjoyment out of it.

    • Sophia Rose

      Yeah, I’m actually a blurb person and it didn’t help me catch what the tone would be. And the cover definitely didn’t go there for me b/c it seemed light and summery. I did get some good moments from it. Thanks, Braine!

    • Sophia Rose

      I was definitely not in the mood for heavy-duty issues when I picked it up to read it. Oh well, it had cute moments so the cover wasn’t totally a lie. 🙂

    • Sophia Rose

      Thanks, Aleen!

      Yes, I was really looking for that tone and it took a bit to adjust. Oh well, it wasn’t awful so that is good. 🙂

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