Thursday, 23 August 2012

Review - I was Jane Austen's Best Friend - Cora Harrison

I was Jane Austen's Best FriendTitle: I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend
Author: Cora Harrison
Genre: Youg Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication: MacMillan, September 28th 2010
Pages: 320, Hardcover
Source: My Own
When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip and romance that Jane inhabits. But Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship, and when Jenny falls utterly in love with the dashing Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this most eligible of men?
*Mild spoilers*
Some of you may know that I tried reading Emma by Jane Austen last week. I really wanted to enjoy such classic masterpiece however, I read a couple of chapters  (Emma was such a fun, sweet character!) but I just couldn't get into the writing, I think maybe when I'm a bit older and in the right mood for a classic then I'll read it. :) 

So I was browsing my shelves, looking for something that was modern but had a classic air to it and found this spin-off novel of Jane Austen, sitting neatly there in the corner, so I thought why not. Well, I'm so happy I decided to read it! I really wasn't expecting such a fantastic tale! This was such a sweet, fun, heart-warming read which also dealt with real-life issues and situations. The plot, the characters, the setting, the diary format - it all added up to a spellbinding novel.

The plot was <3 stunning, right from the very first page I knew it was going to be a whirlwind of a ride,with glitzy ball gowns, feisty characters, dramatic twists and - of course - swoonworthy romance! The opening of the book is where Jenny Cooper (Jane's cousin) is sending Jane her diary that she wrote in, the year she went to stay by Jane. Already from the gripping sentence Cora Harrison uses, we are captivated in their lives. How is this for a killer first sentence:
"Jane looks like she could die. It's a terrible thing to write: Jane looks like she could die - but its even worse to have the thought jumping into your mind every few minutes."
It just made me want to continue reading, worrying thoughts were cast through my head just from that first sentence and I wanted to know what happened. The story takes off from there, what Jenny decides to do at that moment sets of a whole train of events, I was fascinated and gripping the edge of my chair as I watched their lives progress. There were some major twists and turns that had my emotions sky-high, some parts I was laughing as I watched Jane and Jenny's friendship and how Jenny was learning to be around so many boys, how to dance at balls and how to ride a donkey. There were also some surprising tear-jerkers that left me dabbing my eyes.

Jenny was a brilliant heroine! She was shy, graceful, a talented artist and very kind - you would expect her to be a bit overly-sensitive and a weak character, but time after time she kept proving what a determined and compassionate girl she was. What she did on that night where Jane could've died, just showed her courage and compassion for the people she loved. She went to a deliver the life-saving letter to the post office in a little village, where not even a man without a sword would venture - just to save her best friend's life, a good thing did come out of it though - that's where she met the gorgeous Captain Thomas Williams, who rescued her from the drunken sailors, she also knew, however, that if anyone saw her with him, her reputation would be forever ruined.

I also can't finish this review without mentioning a very special person...yup...Jane Austen. I loved how Cora Harrison portrayed Jane as a teenager, she was feisty, witty and lived life to the fullest. I loved reading about her, all the risks she took and all the amusing things she said and did. I loved watching her and Jenny's friendship, they were two completely different characters but they were so close, I just couldn't imagine the one without the other. 

Last but not least...the romance. Watching Jenny and Thomas's relationship unfold was so sweet. Cora Harrison captured the innocence and gentleness of first love spot on. Thomas was such a gentleman to her and so caring and I couldn't help swoon over him. He was the perfect guy for Jenny. Jenny was very cautious and shy being around him but he captured her heart and it was a happy ever after. Don't freak when I tell you this...but there was a bit of insta-love. Three weeks. But ya know what? It was true. Cora Harrison put a lot of accurate information in this book and Jenny and Thomas's love lasted for three weeks exactly before something big happened. A good thing, not a bad thing.

It was also interesting (as Jane had five brothers and one sister) to read about all of them. James was an uptight guy and I really didn't like him, he considered Jane and Jenny as foolish little girls and they weren't like that at all. Edward, I warmed up to him. At first I thought  he was going to be like James, but he showed his sweet, sensitive side and he won me over. Henry was a complete and utter flirt, he was hilarious to read about and he really made me laugh. Although I did have butterflies in my stomach when him and Jenny interacted, I just knew he wasn't the right man for sweet Jenny. Frank and Charles were really cute. My heart felt for Frank at times as he was continuously being teased by Henry and when he started falling for Jenny and she was falling for Thomas and he was left jealous and sad when Jenny didn't choose him. 

The only little blip I had with this, is that I felt there were sometimes too many minor characters to keep track of. I would be getting myself confused with who was who in the zoo, but I eventually I found my footing and all was well.

Overall, this was a beautiful, enthralling novel. A modern classic that will stay with you forever. The author captures the beauty of friendship, dancing with the man of you dreams...and first and true love. I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend is one of my favorites that I will now treasure for as long as I live. An addictive page turner, Cora Harrison is now one of my favourite authors. 

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

3 comments:

  1. Wow long review! Yaaayy I've been waiting for this I love your review :)) Cora Harrison is awesome isnt she! ;)

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  2. Emma didn't work for me either the first time but then I fell in love with it when I was older so I hope that's the case for you too!

    I own but haven't read this book-I think I'll enjoy it a lot as a devoted Janeite :)

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  3. Thank you for a lovely review. You have commented on everything that I secretly hoped people would like about the book.

    Did you write to me about 'Debutantes'? If so I hope that Macmillan have sent you a copy by now. However, Lorraine Keating, my publicist, may be on holiday still - should be back by next week.

    Thank you again for all of the nice remarks.

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