Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: Austensibly Ordinary

Austensibly OrdinaryAuthor: Alyssa Goodnight
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Kensington

Steamy, funky, and thoroughly modern, Austin, Texas isn’t much like the gardened country estates of Jane Austen’s work. But there might be a few similarities in its inhabitants…

Cate Kendall is no stranger to daydreams of brooding men and fancy parties—after all, she teaches one of her beloved Jane Austen novels in her English classes every year. But as for romance or adventure in her own life, the highlight of most weeks is Scrabble with her cute coworker, Ethan, and he draws the line at witty banter. But Cate is ready for a change. When she finds a mysterious journal that seems to have a link to the soul of the great Jane Austen herself, she knows it’s her chance. And she grabs on with both hands…

Before she knows it, Cate has invented an alter ego with an attitude, attended some seriously chic soirees, and gotten tangled up with a delicious mystery man. And she’s uncovered enough unexpected secrets about Ethan that her Scrabble partner has taken to brooding looks and unfathomable silences. It’s a positively Austenite predicament, and Cate is sure she’ll land in hot water and heartbreak—but maybe not with Jane herself to guide her…

“Honestly, I think my mom would be thrilled if I answered Ethan’s teasing booty call.” – ARC Copy pg. 7

“Mom and I were crafty, bookish rule followers, taking it on faith that magic would happen precisely when it was meant to, a personality type crafted initially by fairy tales and honed by Jane Austen.” – ARC Copy pg. 8

“I tipped my head down, seemingly absorbed in the world of Jane Austen, but actually assessing my outfit.” – ARC Copy pg. 14

“I’m going for glamour and mystery, not bitch with issues, and I think I can pull it off. It’s kind of like a dare.” – ARC Copy pg. 24

“I could write in this diary from the perspective of my impending alter ego, recording thrilling adventures and dispensing exciting life advice to inspire the English teacher side of me.” – ARC Copy pg. 33 & 34 (Being an English teacher myself, I loved to read this!)

“I was Cate Kendall, and that name spoke volumes about me. Sensible, reliable rule follower. I wanted to be mysterious, flirtatious, and sexy. A bit of a minx…Cat. I smiled to myself. If I were an author, it would be the smile of the cat that got the cream, but I wasn’t and that was a little clichéd. I liked it anyway.” – ARC Copy pg. 35

Allow me to first start off by saying that as a high school English teacher, this book did wonders for me. First off our main character, Cate Kendall, is a high school English teacher. Secondly, this book is an allusion to one of the greatest authors of all-time, Miss Jane Austen herself. This is a book full of magical realism as our main character finds a magical journal that changes her life entirely. This journal is supposedly possessed the spirit or soul of Jane Austen. Jane reads the entries that people write in the journal and erases most of the message while leaving a tiny snippet that forms a small type of inspirational message. This was an interesting concept for me and I loved, loved, loved the thought of communicating with Jane from the other side!
Cate Kendall was an excellent and inspiring heroine. She was sassy, confused, clumsy, and quirky. I loved her from the very first page. Not to mention we share the same profession. I also loved her relationship with her co-worker, Ethan Chavez. They shared weekly scrabble/pizza and beer nights in which I really got to see the inside of their relationship and watched a completely new Cate reveal herself. When Cate was around Ethan I felt as if we were back in high school and watching some brand new crush between two young, naïve high schoolers. Ethan was just as charming as Cate, and was definitely a catch. I loved their little flirtatious moments and secretly prayed that something would transpire between them. Now whether it does or not, I will not tell you.
Fans of Jane Austen will love this book and I highly recommend giving it a try. Cate is, of course, modeled after a beautiful and intriguing Austen heroine: Emma. Like Emma, I questioned Cate a lot and enjoyed watching her come into her own and really discover her inner beauty and stop sweating the small stuff. It is always inspiring to me to read heroines that are grown, functioning adults, but feel like they are young adolescent teenage girls. Cate was not afraid to make mistakes and usually did not realize she was making them until after the fact. There were several allusions to Jane Austen and her famous published works which I loved. It was not overdone and Goodnight puts just the right twist on Austen’s thought-provoking romances.
***A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. Oh this one looks so cute! I love any modern books that have to do with Jane Austen, so I'm definitely going to have to check this one out! Great review :)

    -Jessica (Peace Love Books)