The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

The Austen Escape

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
Published November 7, 2017 by Thomas Nelson
Format: Netgalley e-book; 320 pages
Fiction/Romance
Also By This Author: Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy & JaneThe Brontë Plot
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

When I first heard about this novel I knew I had to read it. Jane Austen is my favorite author, and there are so many times I wish I could just escape into one of her novels. I’ve told my husband several times that it would be so fun to dress up in 19th century clothing and go to a Regency era ball (it will happen one day!). This is essentially what happens to Mary in The Austen Escape, although she is not as thrilled with the idea since she has barely even read any Austen novels (*gasp*). Her best friend, Isabel, however (and if you’ve ever read Northanger Abbey, red flags should be going up now), is an Austen scholar, and persuades Mary to come on the the Austen vacation with her.

The Austen Escape combines characters and plot lines from each of Jane Austen’s novels, which makes reading it a fun scavenger hunt for any Austenite. However, if you’re not as well versed in Austen as Mary’s frenemy Isabel is, there is a handy character guide included at the beginning of the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed The Austen Escape, but not as much as I had anticipated. I wanted to like this novel more, but I felt that the characters were a bit flat, which made it hard for them to feel real. Although they each possessed believable motives and desires, they didn’t react to one another in realistic ways, which took away from the tension and suspense that would have made the novel more enjoyable. To make up for this, the author added drama between Mary and her love interest, which did feel a little forced and unnecessary; however, it was a sweet romance.

The Austen Escape is for readers looking for a lighthearted, clean romance, especially one that revolves around the world of Jane Austen.

You May Also Enjoy:

Austenland by Shannon Hale
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Amelia Elkins Elkins by A.M.Blair
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Advertisements

Northanger Abbey & Being Catherine Morland

Northanger Abbey

Yes, Catherine. The middle of the night is definitely the perfect time to inspect some creepy old cabinet.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Published Dec 1817 by John Murray
Classic/Romance/Suspense
Format: e-book; 170 pages
Also From This Author: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: 4/5

I was filled with a bitter-sweet feeling after finishing Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey last month; bitter because it was the last Austen novel I had yet to read and sweet because I finally found the Austen heroine I most resemble. Yes, I am Catherine Morland: young, adventurous, naive at times, and above all, impressively talented at scaring myself.

Earlier this year I read Shannon Hale’s novels Austenland and Midnight in Austenland. The first novel borrows extensively from Pride and Prejudice, but Midnight in Austenland is a partial re-imagining of Northanger Abbey, so of course that means I wanted to stay up until 2 A.M. reading it. This is the perfect hour to read gothic novels: the moon is high and bright in the sky, everyone else in my apartment complex is fast asleep, and it’s either eerily quiet outside or there’s that one pair of stray cats defending their territories somewhere far off.

For those of you unfamiliar with Northanger or Midnight in Austenland, without spoiling too much, both Catherine Morland and Charlotte Kinder convince themselves that a gruesome murder has been committed and then become obsessed with finding (mainly fabricating) evidence and motives. So, while reading Midnight in Austenland, I heard (or imagined) a noise somewhere in my apartment and immediately my heart started pounding. Of course this noise can’t be nothing, and although, unlike our gothic heroines, I didn’t immediately imagine a murder scene, I did use the flashlight on my phone to quickly scan my bedroom to make sure nothing was lurking about. And that is the moment I knew I was Catherine Morland (despite the fact that at that point I hadn’t even read Northanger Abbey yet).

Northanger Abbey was published posthumously, roughly four months after Austen’s death, but interestingly enough it was actually the first novel Austen completed. It has many similarities to Austen’s other novels, for example it is a coming-of-age tale that includes deceptive “gold-digger” type characters, exaggerates inappropriate behaviors, and discusses the relationship between love, marriage, and fortune. However, this novel reads a lot differently than Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice, which were Austen’s first two published novels. I felt that the characters were somewhat flat and didn’t possess complex personalities, but this was probably Austen’s design in wanting her novel to be more plot-driven. She’s very much criticizing gothic literature in her unique comical way, and if she knew how badly I spooked myself while reading Northanger Abbey, she’d probably smirk and shake her head at me.

Besides Catherine Morland, we also have the witty and always-amiable Mr. Henry Tilney who unintentionally provokes Catherine’s overactive imagination, as well as the persistently arrogant John Thorpe, who literally had me muttering my annoyances out loud. Well done Austen for making a character seem both flat and unbearably annoying at the same time.

Like I usually do after reading most classic novels, I watched the film adaptation to Northanger Abbey as well. Fun fact: Mr. Henry Tilney is played by JJ Field, who also plays the male lead in the film adaptation of Austenland. I think I preferred his light-hearted and teasing nature as Mr. Tilney, but maybe that’s just the Catherine in me speaking ;) Either way, I enjoyed both films, although Austenland is typically cheesy.

jjfield

Top: Northanger Abbey (2007) // Bottom: Austenland (2013)