Review: 'The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen' by Ada Bright & Cass Grafton (2016)
What would life be like if something had prevented Jane Austen from ever publishing any of her books? Dedicated Janeite, Rose, is about to find out! It's September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the annual Jane Austen Festival, a celebration of the famous author and her works. Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, can't wait for her friends to arrive and the Festival to start, unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a secret that ultimately puts Jane Austen's entire literary legacy at risk. With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?
If there's one type of read I am never too tired, too stressed, or too grumpy for, it's a Jane Austen adaptation. I've been a big fan of Austen since I first read her classic novel 'Pride and Prejudice' when I was sixteen years old, and especially when I was studying English Literature at university I couldn't get enough of her. There's a whole wide world filled with Austen adaptations out there and I'd love to read them all! So when Ada Bright and Cass Grafton contacted me about their novel 'The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen', which was released in 2016, I was immediately excited to give the book a go. I saved it until a time when I really needed a good book to pick me up, and I had my hopes established on this one; fingers crossed it would do the trick!
Rose Wallace has been a big Jane Austen fan for as long as she can remember. Living in the beautiful city of Bath, she has the luxury of being close to the famous Jane Austen festival each September, and this year is going to be extra special since her best friend Morgan is flying over from the USA, giving them the chance to finally meet after years of online friendship. But as the festival kicks off, Rose meets the rather eccentric Jenny; a woman whom she keeps bumping into and can't help but wonder about. Before she knows it, she ends up in the middle of a big Austen-related mystery, with the real possibility of learning what it would be like to live in a world without Jane Austen's novels. Will Rose be able to bring back everything to the way it was, or are these the type of things you simply shouldn't meddle with...?
I love how authors still manage to come up with new and exciting stories focusing on Jane Austen and her classic novels, and 'The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen' is definitely a good example of that. The novel is set in Bath, and the fact that I've been to Bath myself several times really helped me with picturing everything in my head. Leading lady Rose is a lovely character; I could easily relate to her and I especially loved her friendship with Morgan, whom Rose met online several years ago. The two really complemented one another and make a great duo. Next to Morgan there are also some other great characters in the story, such as Rose's boss James and professor Aiden Trevellyan, whom Rose has always had a soft spot for, and the slightly peculiar Jenny whom Rose keeps bumping into.
I don't want to give too much about the plotline away, because I really loved discovering everything myself while reading and I want others to have the same experience. I did feel the story was a bit too gentle-paced at times; I wouldn't have minded if things had developed a bit quicker, but it's not as if it ruined the story for me. The ending even hints at a sequel and I'm already keeping my fingers crossed we will indeed get one...! 'The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen' is a charming and fun read and a great new Austen adaptation which I'm sure even a non-Jane Austen fan will be able to enjoy!