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Thursday, August 29, 2013

YOURS AFFECTIONATELY, JANE AUSTEN by Sally Smith O'Rourke | review

I just want to remind you that you guys can enter to win both this book and its forerunner, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, in this giveaway. But before you run off to that, click through to read my thoughts on:

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O'Rourke
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261 pages
Published September 22nd 2012 by Victorian Essence Press
Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, Yes! And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia is the reason why!

His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?

Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?

For those of you who follow me on youtube, you'll know I have to start this review with a little bit of a disclaimer: I wasn't entirely aware of what I was getting myself into in this book. I knew there was another book that came before it,  The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, but I thought the two were more interconnected standalones than one being a direct sequel of the other. And maybe they're meant to be, and it just wasn't carried off, but either way, Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen plunges you right into the heart of a story that's already going on. I mean, really - it's right in the middle of a ball, which (to my understanding) the last book spent much of its time building up to.  By the time this story begins, the two main characters are already confessing their devotion to each other, and I'm like, wait - we don't know each other that well, folks, let's back this up a bit. But then they would say things like how they've only known each other 2 days, and I'd be like, Um, maybe I misread the confessions of love? I kept flipping back and forth in the beginning, trying to confirm what was really going on, and how long these characters had known each other, and where the timeslip to Jane Austen's time came in, and Darcy's romance with her, and how Darcy became DARCY, and - it was hard for me to get my bearings, is what I'm saying. And this is no fault of Sally Smith O'Rourke, mind you. At least, not entirely - it's my own fault for reading a book 2, though I still find the brevity of the romance to be suspect... But some of the things that completely threw me off may not phase another reader who has read book 1, and maybe those 2 impassioned days of whirlwind romance are really enough to make the reader buy them as a couple by the time this book starts. I don't know. So: disclaimer. There you have it. Take any negatives I may have with a grain of salt, because I'm kinda shooting blind.

Now, that being said, I was eventually able to make sense of who was who and what had been going on before this. Some things were always a bit unclear to me, but for the most part, I was able to suss things out and dive into the story.  And I have to say, there were some things I really enjoyed, though they're maybe not the things I was supposed to like the most. YA, JA is split into 3 different storylines: 1) at some point in the past, a modern day man named Fitzwilliam Darcy traveled back into Jane Austen's time, and sorta maybe wooed her a bit - storyline 1 deals with what's going on in Austen's timeline as a result; 2) Fitzwilliam Darcy came back to the present, where a woman who has stumbled on his past romance with Jane has come to seek him out - storyline 2 follows their immediate true lurves; 3) a stableboy from Jane's time, Simmons, wants to make a better life for himself, and decides to follow Darcy back home, which means time travelling into the current timeline - pretty straight-forward, that Simmons, and I gotta say, his storyline was my fave, hands down.  The other two storylines had their positives and their negatives: I was amused by Jane, and liked how O'Rourke used her actual words (from her letters and stories) to make her seem more real... but she never quite gelled for me; the romance between modern-day Fitz and Eliza had potential, but it was more of a chaotic neutral - things seemed to happen too fast, and were a bit roller-coaster-y, which auto-tips me into my Prime Judgement Zone, but in the end, it was a pleasant-enough romance.

But Simmons. Oh, Simmons. I liked his story so much more than any romance. His was a story all about striking out on one's own, about seeking a place in the world where you can be valuable and respected, and about taking huge, bold risks to do so. Frankly, I could have done with a whole story following Simmons and his jarring travels in the modern world. It was funny, it was sweet, and it seemed realistic, which is always a big bonus in a time-slip novel. Even though I enjoyed the other two threads in the book, I found myself constantly wanting to get back to Simmons - this was not the reaction I expected to have when his 3rd POV was introduced into the book. I was worried that so many plot lines, so many different points of view, would fracture the book and make me not like it. Instead, I thought they all worked together well, and gave a more-complete picture, but it was Simmons, the thread I thought I'd find unnecessary and want to just snip from the overall fabric, Simmons whose story I kinda fell in love with.

So, I don't know. It was a bit of a strange reading experience for me, in that I didn't get at all what I thought I was going to get (my fault), but I ended up really liking the things I didn't think I was going to like (Sally's fault, so good on her, 'cause she won me over). It's hard for me to know whether to recommend the book, though, as I haven't read the first one, and so can't recommend it - but while I liked this, and loved Simmons, I can't recommend this either, without saying, read the first book... So, I guess, if you have read The Man Who Loved Jane Austen and liked it, or want to see how the story wraps up, pick this one up and you'll get Bonus Simmons. If you haven't read either, but are curious, just know there's some interesting timeslip and a really cool stable boy to look forward to... =D

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  1. I have this one but not the first, and I didn't realise they were connected, so thank you for the warning!

  2. *snort laugh* I am so glad I am not the only one who gets in these pickles with obscure sequelling of books. Now I can get my smug face on since I did read the first one and knew about this sequel which I haven't had the chance to read yet. I will say that I liked the spot on deducing (reminds me not to compete in mystery solving with you) you were doing about this one and its connection to the first one. Some of the points you made are definitely salient- fast love affair with the contemporary folks and well, fast but mellow feelings in the time slip moment. Your fun stable guy does play his part nicely and I liked him too in the first book- glad he gets to shine in the second book.

    I do love Sally's writing and my favorite is her cute dog story.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I gave up reading mysteries when I was about 12 or so because I was SO SICK of figuring them out so quickly, and then having to wait around for the MC to catch up... I'm a little more able to let go when it comes to those things now (a little), but for a long time, it just made me bitter. lol!


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