I have a rant. However, before I rant, I need to state that I did not find anything technically wrong with Sally Smith O'Rourke's novel, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. The story is solid and the characters are more or less developed. O'Rourke's novel is an easy read and I feel like she probably is a decent writer. I would give her another chance if she writes a book on a different subject.
O'Rourke's novel follows an artist named Eliza, who buys an antique vanity table and discovers letters written by author Jane Austen, hidden inside. In the process of trying to get the letters authenticated, Eliza meets a mysterious man, who is desperate to acquire the letters and has a very bizarre story.
Admittedly, I didn't see the twist that came 1/3 into the story. I wish that the twist had played out in a less conventional manner.
Now the rant...
This book was recommended to me by a close friend, whom after I acquired the book, admitted that it wasn't that good. She just liked it based on the subject matter, tending to read anything involving Jane Austen. I love Jane Austen, but I find all of the Jane Austen mania to be tiresome.
O'Rourke's novel is another book to add to the long list of overly sentimental, Jane Austen themed crap. I think what bothers me the most about these modern Jane Austen books, is that they nearly always obsessive over the romantic parts of Austen's books, in particular, Pride and Prejudice.
I feel like behind everyone one of these books is an author who needs to get their personal literary obsessions on the page. They don't add anything new to the genre and lack creativity.
I find it irritating that the focus is on the romance, rather than Austen's wit and social observations.
O'Rourke's book drove me extra nuts, because her modern characters were like caricatures of Austen's characters. I see what O'Rourke tried to do by having the modern characters mirror Jane's fictitious ones, but it never quite worked. Eliza, is often completely unlikeable in her superior attitude and the turning point where we are supposed to warm to her, never quite happens. I don't buy her connection with Darcy for a second. Darcy is just too weird and too perfect to be believed.
I feel like this is a fairytale, lacking all depth and meaning. The last few chapters with the Rose Ball were an overkill fantasy sequence.
Maybe lovers of romance novels with Fabio on the cover will love this book?