A few days into the new year and I have already abandoned a book. A couple of years ago, I struggled through the first book of the new year (The Prague Cemetery), didn’t like the end anyway and decided that maybe I’d had enough of struggling to finish books that weren’t grabbing me.
More often than not I still try to push through, but I’m getting better at prescribing to the “life is too short for bad books” philosophy. This time I ended up laying aside Jehanne Wake’s Sisters of Fortune: The First American Heiresses to Take Europe by Storm. I wanted to love it – wealthy women in a bygone era are one of my favourite things to read about. But in the end I couldn’t get through all the military history that Wake found necessary to set the tone. A word to the wise: military history is dry.
But it’s OK because letting go of Sisters of Fortune allowed me to get started on The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo.
(Does it seem like Jane Austen has been a big part of the blog lately? I promise to try and branch out more!)
I recently read and loved Kim Izzo’s My Life in Black and White about a divorced, borderline failed screenwriter taking a suitcase of her grandmother’s 1940s clothes with her to London and finding herself in a film noir. It was an interesting plot, filled with believable characters and I totally loved it. After I read that, I decided to give The Jane Austen Marriage Manual a try.
Lucky for me, it was at the library the next time I went.
This time our heroine, Katherine Billington Shaw, is down and out after the recession forces the magazine she works for (on a mat leave to mat leave basis) to let her go after her contract ends. She has no savings and when her family home is repossessed, she decides to try out the Jane Austen way of life: marry for money (she’s paraphrasing). With the magazine backing her for an article on the subject, and a fake title courtesy of her friends, Lady Kate heads to Palm Beach to try out the Jane Austen way.
Fairly typical chick lit style plot ensues but it’s a delight. Izzo is extremely adept at creating really believable, modern characters – a mom struggling with a gambling addiction, the greatest grandmother that ever was, a flamboyant divorcee only too happy to help Kate on her quest, and a set of friends that you could easily find in your own life. Although their lives are likely a little more glamourous, working in magazines and music as they do.
I admit, I teared up a little in parts where the grandmother featured prominently.
I know that this genre isn’t for everyone. I’ve written about my feelings on that before. But if you’re in the mood for a lighter read, maybe after you’ve slogged through something like Crime and Punishment, I can’t recommend Kim Izzo highly enough.
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