Wednesday, February 01, 2012
First Wednesdays Book Review: Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight
Austentatious, by Alyssa Goodnight
As much as some of us might contend that genre is an arbitrary slot to fit books into--and that all books are basically a story--that's not really true IMHO. If the main thrust of a story is a crime or criminals, we might correctly call it crime fiction even if the writer is Tolstoy. If the main circumstances are set in a hard-scrabble town beset by troubles with cattle rustlers in 1870, we might call it a Western.
If the conflict is between two planets hurling toward each other in outer space, that would certainly be science fiction to me. And if the protagonist is mostly looking for a companion, that is romance in my book.
Now the argument that there is no genre might work better for me if people read outside their preferred setting more often. And some readers do. But a heck of a lot of people only read what is classified as literary fiction-and I find it very hard to persuade them that they might like Started Early, Took My Dog, for instance. Likewise it is hard to convince me to try fantasy, science fiction, or in the case today, chick lit or romance. Although I can be persuaded to watch a movie like FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, I probably would never read the book.
Looking over the books I have read in the last fifteen years or so, I see only one book that might be classified as a romance and that is THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. It was one of those arm-twisting cases too.
I have also read no science fiction or fantasy over these years. Am I missing something? Of course.
I just finished AUSTENTATIOUS by Alyssa Goodlight for Barrie Summy's monthly review group. It was clever, well-written, enjoyable, and light-hearted. I liked the use of Austen and Austin, TX in it. I like that music figured into it. It felt real, populated with real people despite its magical elements. Let me tell you a bit about it.
The Austin setting was perfect for the story. Nic James, a newly minted engineer, is browsing in a shop in weird South Austin (been there and this brought that street back to me) and comes across a vintage journal. The journal is tucked between a set of Austen novels so it seems fortuitous to our Austen lover. (I never met an engineer who liked Austen but I suppose there are some). She takes the journal home and once she enters her first thoughts into the journal, those words are magically changed to push her in the direction any good Austen heroine will take--look for romance.
Fairy Jane as Nic calls her steers Nic right onto the path of a perfect romantic figure, Sean, a musician from Scotland. Austin and music are certainly a perfect fit. I pictured Hugh Grant in his younger days. The path of this romance changes Nic in the ways Elizabeth Bennet was changed by her love for Mr. Darcy. And that's a good thing for them both. The corset comes off or is at least loosened.
Alyssa Goodnight says that Jane took over the book at some point and isn't that how the best stories get told. I think anyone who likes a well-written romance will enjoy this book and maybe a few of the rest of you too.
Disclosure: this book was sent to me by the publisher in the hope I would like it enough to review it.
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