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I blame Bridget Jones.
Jane Austen's six novels have inspired a huge number of novels about the romantic dilemmas facing bright, educated middle class women. Does adding literary references to chicklit somehow make for better novels? I don't think so, but I do find these books fun, escapist reading, and the title of this one was irresistible.
Emma Grant is an American academic down on her luck. Her ex husband has not only left her for a colleague, they accused her of plagiarism and as a result she has lost her job. When an old lady with a collection of hitherto unseen letters from Jane Austen contacts her, she has nothing left to lose. Although sworn to secrecy, Emma hopes to win Mrs Parrot round and that she will be able to learn something about Austen and publish the letters, to restore her academic reputation.
A lot of the story is taken up with trips around to find out more about Austen and her life, including visits to places she lived. However, no entry in the chicklit for Austen fans subgenre would be complete without a love interest, or better still, two rival love interests for the heroine's affections. Emma is surprised to find that someone else is staying in her friend Anne-Elise's flat, an old friend, Adam. She also meets the wealthy, suave Barry.
Jane Austen Ruined My Life is not a work of any great literary depth, but I quite enjoyed it as a quick easy read. Emma is a bit brittle and fragile, a bit spiky, and of course she doesn't realise how much Adam likes her. She has a bit of a moral dilemma over whether or not she is going to betray Mrs Parrot's trust and reveal the letters without getting permission. I thought the story was predictable but fun.
If you've never read Jane Austen and have no interest in her work, this isn't going to change your mind or interest you, but then you probably wouldn't look at a book with this title. If you like your chicklit with literary references, this is an entertaining way to pass a couple of hours.
Format: Paperback 274 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books
ISBN: 978 0 857 210104
RRP £8.99, Amazon £6.39
This is an amended version of a review which first appeared at the Bookbag