While I tend to gravitate toward historical fiction when I’m in the mood for a novel, there is something charming about present day settings that root in history.
Katherine Reay’s The Austen Escape follows the present day lives of characters Mary Davies and her childhood best friend Isabel Dwyer, and places them in a 19th century world of a “character holiday”, in which participants leave their current lives and play the role of characters in Jane Austen novels for two weeks. This “Austen Escape”, from which the book takes its title, takes place in a Jane Austen inspired manor house in England. Mary Davies is an engineer who has recently suffered a career setback, and reluctantly travels with Isabel (who is working on her thesis about Jane Austen) to the escape.
During the Escape, Isabel suffers memory loss, and truly believes herself to be a regency lady, and has no recollection of anyone or anything in the present. As a result, Mary learns some potentially divisive information about a certain man, Nathan, whom they both admire. Can Mary and Isabel survive as friends? What will happen when Isabel remembers her life?
I found this book to be a bit slow. While I did like the writing style, and found it to be witty and entertaining, the plot was a bit unsatisfying. The character whom both women comes to odds about in England, Nathan, really doesn’t seem to be that important of a character. Mary quietly admires him, but doesn’t seem to be lovestruck. And, Isabel says at the beginning of the book that they’re not even really dating–just that they hang out casually and have mutual friends. So the love triangle really isn’t that much of a love triangle at all, which is really the crux of the story.
I did feel like I was back in Jane Austen’s time, and appreciated the witticism of the dialogue, but I think there could have been a lot of room for improvement in the plot, but I didn’t really consider this to be a “Christian” novel, as there was no dialogue about God and one scene takes place in a bar.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher and BookLook bloggers. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way. I was not required to give a positive review of this book.