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

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October Highlights

October was a big month for me. I dealt with a lot of different transitions as my husband and I entered our second month of living in the States. I revamped my blog, I discovered a lot of things about myself, and I came to some conclusions about where I want the future to take me.

Here are some of my highlights from the month of October:

I read 10 books this month!
thegeographyofyouandme dearmrknightley Adobe Photoshop PDF peterpanannotated
   lola isla grimmlegacy grimmmemories
I have now exceeded my 2014 reading challenge goal of 45 books by reading 65 total.

Favorite Read:
secondchancesummer

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

As always, Morgan Matson’s writing impacted me deeply. This book more so than her other two. It’s one of those books that I label as “life-changing.”

Least Favorite Read:
theoneandonly

The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Normally I don’t post negative reviews, but I couldn’t even finish reading Emily Giffin’s latest book. It’s really long, slow-moving, and morally questionable.

Favorite TV Show:
As hinted at by this post, my husband and I started watching Supernatural and we’re hooked! We’re already halfway through the second season. I love Sam & Dean!

But on a lighter note, Green Gables Fables is my favorite current YouTube series and a couple of weeks ago they released this video which has been my favorite of the series so far. If you’re not familiar with Anne of Green Gables, this is the follow-up to my favorite scene from the book.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/r732LUuTiEk” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Most Popular Post:
Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Totally Want To Be For Halloween
But my post on Sleepy Hollow last year was also really popular this month.

Favorite Memories From October:

  • Trick-or-Treaters!! This is probably the first Halloween I was able to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, and I never thought I would enjoy it so much! At first I was worried we wouldn’t have any kids come by, because this neighborhood is fairly small and out in the middle of the woods. But we actually had quite a lot! And they all had such amazing and cute costumes. And Solo was there to greet each kid that said “Trick-or-Treat!” and I think they were more into petting him than getting any candy :)
  • This month I also got to spend a lot of time with my family, which I really needed. Even though we didn’t do anything big or exciting, it as a lot of fun just watching football with my dad and brother, going shopping with my mom, and going to the movies or out to dinner with everyone.
  • Earlier in October Matt finally received his green card! Now if only we could find jobs…

November To Be Read:

thetroublewithflirting thebeautifulamerican waroftheworlds
                    loveunexpected amostinconvenientmarriage

Things I’m Looking Forward To In November:

  • This week I have a job interview! It’s my first positive result from my job search so far. I’ve applied to so many jobs and received a few negative responses, but yesterday I finally received some good news. I know nothing is guaranteed yet, but it’s still encouraging to make it this far.
  • Next weekend is YALL Fest! It’s my first book conference/event and I’m going with my friend Regina @ The Sunflower Pages. There will be several of my favorite authors there, but I think I’m most excited about Rainbow Rowell and Ann Brashares. I’ll post all about it afterwards!
  • This is the month of THANKSGIVING! Last year I did my daily 30 Days of Thankfulness posts, which I won’t be doing again this year, but I encourage you all to think about what you’re thankful for this month & to share those things with others :) I’m thankful for my family, because without them I’d be lonely, miserable, and homeless.

What were some of your favorite highlights from October?

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

dearmrknightley

“What do you know about me, Mr. Knightley? Really know? No matter what Father John told you or sent you, you can’t know it all. No one does. I alone carry it each and every day. And no matter how many characters I hide behind, how much work I bury myself beneath, my past still pushes me every day and haunts me every night.”

 

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Published Nov 2013 by Thomas Nelson
Adult Fiction-Romance
Format: e-book; 328 pages
Also From This Author: Lizzy & Jane
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature. After college, she receives an extraordinary opportunity: the anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him updated on her progress.

As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her–a damaged teenager and fellow foster care kid, her classmates and professors at Medill, and most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own–secrets that make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

Thoughts:

Dear Mr. Knightley is one of those novels that takes a little while to get into, but once you reach that point, it’s really hard to put the book down.

For me, there were two reasons I wasn’t fully invested from the beginning: the epistolary style and the e-book format. I was given this novel by the publisher in exchange for a review, but the e-book they sent me was so bad, and I’m not referring to the context of the story at all. The e-book was FULL of punctuation errors that would have normally caused me to not finish the book. So I highly recommend reading this book in print format, to avoid any e-book errors, but also because this story is told almost entirely through letters. It took some time for me to get used to Samantha’s letters, but fortunately she is a reliable narrator, one you start to root for after uncovering her past.

Samantha’s story is intriguing, especially when we finally get to see into her past. Because she’s writing these letters to an anonymous stranger, she doesn’t just jump into her painful back story. We have to wait a little while, just like all of the other characters, before she opens up to us. But once she finally does become vulnerable her story becomes so much more interesting. Before that moment the story is rather fluffy and sappy (especially with all of the classic literature quotes she throws in during daily conversations), but afterwards you start to understand how she uses these characters to hide behind because she’s too afraid to get hurt by others.

“I still fear judgement. Most days I feel cast off, dirty, and not worthy. Won’t others feel the same way about me?”

Which brings me to the secondary characters. To be honest, I was much more invested in their stories than in Sam’s, especially Kyle’s and the Muirs’s. Kyle is the wayward teenager who shares Sam’s foster system tragedy. Sam takes him under her wing when he’s abrasive and short-tempered and by the end you really just want to hug him. I loved how his character development panned out. The Muirs are a lovable older couple that bring warmth and comfort into the novel and into Sam’s life.

Dear Mr. Knightley surprised me because it was so much more than just an Austen-inspired novel. The themes cut much deeper: allowing oneself to be vulnerable after being hurt emotionally and physically, child rights & the pitfalls of the foster care system, and helping out others even in the midst of personal struggles and tribulations.

Read This If…:

…you enjoy books that surprise you
…you like reading books that talk about deep and painful things
…you sympathize with characters who stay pure and kindhearted in an ugly world
…you love a love story!

Final Musings:

I really enjoyed Dear Mr. Knightley because it surprised me with its deeper & unexpected plot points. This story made my heart break at times and my face light up in a smile at others. Please give this novel a chance! It’s much more than an Austen-inspired light read :)

“All this is a part of us. God, bad, and ugly, Sam, this is our story.”