Thank you to Gallery Books for providing me with an advance copy of Julia Sonneborn's novel, By The Book, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- Anne followed her dreams instead of her heart, and now in middle-age, she is second guessing her choices. She has a doctorate in English Literature and is teaching at a prestigious liberal-arts college in Southern California, but Anne is stressed. She has an incredible amount of student debt and is on the cusp of losing her job, which is contingent on her securing a publication deal before the end of winter semester.
To complicate matters, Anne's former college boyfriend and former fiance, Adam, has accepted the job as president at Anne's college. Their break-up happened over Anne thinking that she had to choose between love or grad school. The couple's pride prevented them from talking out this misunderstanding and they had spoken since college.
Can Anne figure out a way to pursue all of her dreams or will her previous bad decisions impact the rest of her life?
LIKE- By The Book is a charming story and quick read. I was drawn to it because it is labeled as a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. I love Austen and I've read Persuasion, more than once, but I guess I'm not as big of an Austen fan as I thought I was, because the actual story wasn't familiar enough for me to recognize it as a retelling. It did have Austen tones with regard to the relationship between Anne and Adam, their pride getting in the way and the general romantic overtones. The story has a very Austen type of character in Rick, a slick-talking writer that sweeps Anne off her feet, but who is of course, not the man he seems. Rick and Adam have an Austen style stand-off, where they each pursue Anne in their own way, but have a clear disdain for one another.
Persuasion is brought up in a straight-forward way, as Anne's favorite book, a precious copy is given to her by Adam when they are first dating. Various writers are mentioned, via Anne's love of literature and her profession, so By the Book is made for book-lovers. You'll geek out over the references.
I loved the character of Larry, Anne's best friend at the college. He's the type of best friend that everyone should aspire to have in their lives and to be to others. He's awesome!
By the Book is a fluffy, enjoyable read. It's a great vacation pick, fast-faced and a story that will leave you with a smile on your face. I don't generally favor overly romantic stories, but this hit the right level of romance to melt my heart.
DISLIKE- Not a true dislike, but I need to explain the level of By The Book. I very much enjoyed it, but it's not they type of book that is likely to win-awards or will be life-changing. It's simply an entertaining read and there is nothing wrong with that!
RECOMMEND- Yes! I've already recommend this to a close friend who loves Austen. By the Book is romantic, and sweet story with likable characters.