Remarkable 5-Star Romance with a Silly 1-Star Title!
Mary Jane Hathaway
Kindle Edition -267 pages
Don’t get me wrong! This is a wonderful, fun filled, witty, romance! I even can’t wait to read the next book in the series. However, in the interest of honest disclosure, I feel it necessary to first mention the title:
To begin with I think this title is a great example why editors don’t let writers choose their own titles. Let’s look at some of the expectations that this title could create in the reader’s mind – as it did in mine.
1. Is Jane Austen a character in this book?
(A) as a real person living in her own time, as Jane Austen is a character in Stephanie Barron’s mysteries? No.
(B) as a contemporary character like Sherlock Holmes is in the tv show, “Elementary”? No.
2. Is this book a funny parody of Pride and Prejudice? No.
3. Does this book mirror the events in Pride and Prejudice the way James Joyce’s “Ulysses” mirrors the event’s in Homer’s “Odyssey”? No. (However, in both books the hero does something unkind that greatly upsets the heroine.)
4. Do you have to have read Pride and Prejudice and/or like Jane Austen to enjoy this book? No.
5. Do cheese grits play any part on the story? No. (But I do understand the new edition has recipes for cheese grits at the end. My edition did not have these and I didn’t miss them.)
6. Does the story at least take place in the south where grits are a staple? YES!
7. Does the story have anything to do with Pride and Prejudice? Yes: at the start of each chapter there is a quote from Pride and Prejudice which sets the mood for that chapter. I enjoyed these quotes but then I like all books to have interesting quotes at the start of each chapter.
What would be a good title? I would pick: “Pride, Prejudice and an Academic Affair of the Heart”. This is not going to happen. As I understand it, there is a whole series of silly titles waiting in the wings. The next book is called: 'Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs' due in May 2013. That’s not far off but it still seems like a long time when I’m in the mood to read it right now!
I prefer my title because the story is all about college professors and is very true to life as it is lived in academia. As a former college teacher myself, I found the events in the story to be highly realistic. The college in the story even seemed to mirror, Tulsa University, where I once taught. Even the building in the story has the same name as where I taught! This story is very close to me. The hero and heroine are even history teachers and I have a teaching minor in history! Now back to the story.
What makes this a 5-star romance?
1) The very fine writing. The book is well written and well edited. The author also writes for one of the largest publishers in the world.
2) The psychological insights and the wit. You can experience the wit at the start of every chapter, of course, a lot of that wit is Jane Austen’s – who I love anyway.
3) The genuine conflicts keeping the hero and heroine apart. This book is original. The conflicts are real. I’ve seen them in action in academia.
4) Very strong secondary characters. This is not a short book. The author makes very good use of the opportunities the length provides for fleshing out secondary characters.
5) The fast pace of the story action. As in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, the chapters are very short. There is a lot of action just like in P&P.
6) The high level of ‘page by page’ reading enjoyment – (The Austen quotes play a big part in this).
7) a realistic portrayal of the ‘pettiness’ of the insulated ‘ivory tower’ academic life. I had the feeling on every page that the author was reporting on academic life that she actually experienced.
8) A rich appreciation of history. (I have a teaching minor in History so I may be more likely to enjoy this feature.)
Both the hero and heroine are history teachers in the same department. He is very famous and is just visiting. She is not famous and is up for tenure. The famous hero has trashed the heroine’s one little book in a high profile review. She is very angry with him. (Sound like the start of “Pride and Prejudice”?) Darcy would make a very good arrogant college professor.
REAL READER CONFLICT!
I experienced a rather new feeling while reading this book. I found myself reading as fast as I could to find out what was going to happen next but at the same time I did not want to story to end. So I rationed the book to only a few chapters a day. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before with a book. But then, I have never read a romance like this one! The second book is coming out in a few months and that seems like ages to me. I’ll be the first to buy the new book!
If You Love Jane Austen, You’ll Love This Book. If You Don’t Like Jane Austen, You’ll Still Love This Book!