I didn’t know what to expect pretty much throughout my reading of Rachel Givney’s Jane in Love. Unpredictable, fun, funny, & yet sad at moments too, Jane in Love offers compelling observations about our time & the social conditions Jane Austen might have faced as a woman who wanted to write in her own time—but in terms of execution it doesn’t always work for me.
In 1803 Jane Austen is a spinster who loves to write but can’t share her efforts with her embarrassed family. After she’s rejected by a promising suitor, she seeks help from a witch & tells her she wants love. As a result she’s sent to the 21st century.
Straight to a film set where they’re adapting one of her novels.
Jane immediately meets spoiled & yet likable actress Sophia & soon after, Sophia’s brother Fred Wentworth, who irritates Jane immensely.
Initially believing that Jane is an actress in a candid camera situation, Sophia is eventually won over to believe Jane's time travel tale—with some funny scenes along the way.
Sophia's going to assist Jane in her efforts to return to her own time, but of course complicating everything are Jane’s growing feelings for Fred & her awareness that her lingering time in the 21st century is slowly making her published books disappear.
Givney clearly sketches out the dilemma facing Jane: what she stands to lose & gain no matter what decision she makes.
A standout for me in this book is the sense of voice. Givney writes voice in such a way that I felt as if I knew the characters; they're unique & memorable.
Filled with dry humor, the scenes in which Jane encounters the world of the 21st century & nearly every scene with Sophia are particularly fine. Though it’s not a humorous scene, the pep talk moment between the two women—when Jane coaches Sophia how to act—is written with sensitivity & quite lovely.
But the love story between Jane & Fred lacks subtlety at moments & feels rushed. I want to warn my romance-loving friends that this is not a romance. Setting aside that for a moment, the ending overall also feels hurried to me.
There are moments of Jane in Love that shine, & those moments focus on Jane as a writer & how that relates to social expectations for women, her sense of personhood, & her relationship with Sophia. I was less convinced & enamored with the “in love” part.
3⭐️. Jane in Love is out on 10/27. Thanks to HarperCollins Publishers and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
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