Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Book Club, Literarture


English professor Emma Grant has always done everything just the way her minister father told her she should -- a respectable marriage, a teaching job at a good college, and plans for the requisite two children. Life was prodigiously good, as her favorite author Jane Austen might say, until the day Emma finds her husband in bed with another woman. Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for the foolish dreams they are.

Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal and left penniless by the ensuing divorce, Emma packs up what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England on a quest to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. Locating the elusive letters, however, isn't as straightforward as Emma hoped. The owner of the letters proves coy about her prize possessions, sending Emma on a series of Austen-related tasks that bring her closer and closer to the truth, but the sudden reappearance of Emma's first love makes everything more complicated.

In the end, Emma learns that doing the right thing has very little to do with other people's expectations and everything to do with her own beliefs. Laced with fictional excerpts from the missing letters, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of a woman betrayed who uncovers the deeper meaning of loyalty.


Emma Grant believes that Jane Austen ruined her life. She believes that the brilliant author gave women all over the world the hope that happy endings and true love exist when in fact, they don’t. And Emma spent almost her entire life foolishly believing that a Mr.Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice or a Captain Wentworth, from Persuasion was waiting for her out in the world and all she needs to do is find him.

She thought she found herself, a Mr. Knightley (from Austen’s novel, Sense & Sensibility) and 10 years into the marriage and she finds her “Mr. Knightley” with another woman. And with that woman, her marriage was over and so was her professional life.

Financially unstable, Emma Grant flies to England in pursuit to find evidence that Jane Austen is a fraud, so she can write her way up the ladders once again. She speaks to a senior member of a secret Jane Austen group (who keeps Jane Austen’s letters a secret) called The Formidables and is sent all around places like, Lyme, Bath and other places Jane Austen used to love and hate for tasks to prove she’s not one of those people who want to sabotage Jane Austen’s work and in exchange, this senior member will show her original copies of Jane Austen’s letters.

In the fray of these tasks, Emma Grant struggles with love and herself. And instead of grasping her second chance at a happy ending, she chooses to focus on herself, because in fact, Jane Austen didn’t ruin her life. Emma did that all on her own.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life was a heartfelt book that I enjoyed, it was dusted with facts about Jane Austen, fanatics like myself would love to read about. This was an absolute wonderful read with slight romance and a woman trying to find herself.

4 out of 5 date trees

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