Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Book review - JUST JANE by Nancy Moser

Just Jane by Nancy Moser

Unable to find her own Mr. Darcy, she created him.

Jane Austen lives simply in the English countryside with her beloved family, entertaining them with her stories and seeking romance. She never ventures far from her own corner of the world and struggles to find her place in it. Growing up in a clergyman's home gives Jane opportunities to observe human nature at its best--and worst.

Vivid and delightful characters pour from her pen--Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price, John Willoughby ... Jane dreams of publishing her stories and sharing them with the world, but she's just Jane from Steventon, isn't she? Will anyone ever read her novels?

In this moving and authentic portrayal, Christy Award-winning author Nancy Moser transports readers back to the life and times of the literary world's possibly most beloved heroines.

Camy here: This was a very enjoyable novel. As an Austen fan, I was very anxious to read it, and it did not disappoint.

At first, the first person present tense was a bit hard to reconcile with the fact it’s a Regency-era historical novel—it seemed odd when I’m used to third person past tense in my historical romances. However, I soon got used to it, and it gave the story more of a feeling of being in Jane’s head as things happen to her, feeling her immediate emotions and seeing her immediate thoughts.

There are a few scenes in the first quarter of the book where the story meanders—I don’t know what the purpose of the scene was, making for slow reading.

There are also parts where the voice of the character isn’t Jane’s. I know the author purposefully didn’t try to match Jane’s novelist’s voice, and an author’s writing voice is usually not like her speaking voice. However, I would have wanted the narrative to have more consistent adherence to Jane’s voice in her letters, and at some points it seemed a bit too modern and a little uncharacteristic.

The ending is not as traditionally climactic as other novels, but I found myself grinning like an idiot because of the subject matter. The facts about Jane Austen’s life that follow the ending are also neat to read.

The majority of the novel is intriguing and entertaining. I especially liked being able to see how Jane’s observations and experiences made their way into the novels I’m so familiar with. The vignette about Jane’s aunt’s false-bottomed chest, for example, that was slipped into Northanger Abbey, is both cute and funny.

The novel is rich with emotion, which will please many women’s fiction fans. The historical setting permeates the story, which will appeal to historical fiction and historical romance readers.

I found this book very enjoyable and informative about my favorite author. I’m so glad Nancy Moser took the risk to write this wonderful novel.

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