Jane in Love…
About the Book:
At age twenty-eight, Jane Austen should be seeking a suitable husband, but all she wants to do is write. She is forced to take extreme measures in her quest to find true love – which lands her in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Magically, she finds herself in modern-day England, where horseless steel carriages line the streets and people wear very little clothing. She forms a new best friend in fading film star Sofia Wentworth, and a genuine love interest in Sofia’s brother Fred, who has the audacity to be handsome, clever and kind-hearted.
She is also delighted to discover that she is now a famous writer, a published author of six novels and beloved around the globe. But as Jane’s romance with Fred blossoms, her presence in the literary world starts to waver. She must find a way to stop herself disappearing from history before it’s too late.
A modern-day reimagining of the life of one of the world’s most celebrated writers, this wonderfully witty romantic comedy offers a new side to Jane’s story, which sees her having to choose between true love in the present and her career as a writer in the past.
This turned out to be far more delightful than I could have ever anticipated. What a truly unique and rather insightful novel! Jane Austen accidentally time travels to 2020, where she ends up being in the difficult position of having to choose between love and her true calling in life: to be a writer. Now, most of you know that I am not a fan of romance so when I say to you that I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this novel, then you can rest assured that it’s more than a romantic comedy. Yes, there are both of those things woven through the narrative in the most entertaining manner, but there’s so much more as well. I’ve read a couple of books now, both fiction and non-fiction, that have given an indication of Jane’s personality and I feel as though Rachel Givney has captured the essence of what Jane might have been like with a measure of authenticity. She also captured the genuine feel of 1803 in a manner that was distinct from 2020. Both character and scene were so well written within this novel, and with such a unique story binding these elements together, this one really was a winner for me.
‘Further conversation revealed, to her horror, that he admired Cecilia, Jane’s favourite book. Jane was worried, for now she enjoyed this man’s company, respected his opinions and shared his mockery of Bath. With his one great defect being the smallness of his coat buttons, Jane had no choice but to like Mr Withers.’
I do enjoy a bit of well written time travel fiction and I did think that this one was done quite well. Not just the actual teleportation and logistics, but more the way in which Jane was plunged from 1803 to 2020 and how she reacted to this. The way Jane noticed how things smelled – the inside of a train smelling of cut metal, for example – was a telling symbol to demonstrate just how much has changed between the eras. Likewise, people’s teeth; she was astonished by the whiteness, freshness of breath and the fact that people weren’t missing their incisors or canines. Water streaming from a tap, so crystal clear, as opposed to discoloured and blobbing out of an outdoor hand pump. These observations were worked into the narrative in a way that made me, as a reader, appreciate our modern-day comforts that we take for granted all the more. Quite often when we read historical fiction, it can be authentic in its representation whilst not actually disclosing the small things: like missing teeth, bathing in dirty water, and rotting food. When it does disclose these things, it’s within the context of the era, so we don’t dwell on it. Jane’s utter amazement of modern life and its conveniences were delivered in direct contrast to what was missing from her own era, making it all the more apparent. Waffling on a bit about all this, but I thought it was really well done.
‘It bore consideration that the year 2020 also produced a similar degree of advancement upon 1803. But how exactly did human progress manifest? One thing stood for certain: twenty-first century humans had eradicated manual labour and replaced it with magic. A steel box washed the clothes. Another washed the crockery. Magic lit the candles and moved the steel carriages.’
‘She shook her head yet again at these people and their inventions. They had conjured so many devices to save time and to make life easier, yet everyone walked around faster and looking more anguished.’
1803 is before Jane wrote and published her books. She had been writing, but an early version of Pride and Prejudice had been rejected by a publisher and she had been forbidden by her mother to continue with her writing because it was deemed as almost immoral, and most certainly a deterrent to finding a husband, which was of course, the only thing that mattered to Mrs Austen – and ‘society’. When Jane arrives in 2020, she quickly discovers that she is an author of renown, a fact that astounds her and excites her in equal measure.
‘A momentary silence filled the house as Jane stopped breathing. She stared at the six books which now lay on the table. She read each title in turn. They shared a common author.’
‘She allowed herself to consider that there might be some minuscule chance lunacy had not taken her, but rather, with a sound mind, she had indeed cast a spell which had moved her through time to the year 2020, where her reputation as an author was such that museums were now built in her honour. It was pure fiction, surely.’
The problem arises when Jane’s books begin to disappear, one by one, the longer she remains in the present day. It takes some time for Jane and her new friend Sofia to realise what is causing this to happen, but as each book disappears, Jane’s legacy shrinks from history, causing changes that point in the direction of Jane Austen, author and literary icon, becoming non existent. Jane cannot have everything: love in the modern day as well as a career as a writer. She must choose, and in this we see the struggle of creative women throughout history exemplified. This whole story is just so clever, and like I already mentioned but will reiterate for emphasis, wholly insightful.
‘Jane. You won’t be famous in your lifetime. You will receive some small recognition, but you will never know the reception which celebrates you now. You will never know what you become.’
Jane nodded and gazed at the ground. ‘But I will write?’
Sofia sighed and fixed her face in a sad smile. ‘You will write.’
Recommended of course for fans of Jane Austen but I also think this would be an excellent way to inspire readers who have never read Jane Austen to do so. Jane in Love is a love letter to Austen herself, an ode to her genius and a reminder of how fortunate the world is in being able to read and treasure her novels.
Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a review copy of Jane in Love.
About the Author:
Rachel Givney is a writer and filmmaker originally from Sydney, Australia (currently based in Melbourne). She has worked on Offspring, The Warriors, McLeod’s Daughters, Rescue: Special Ops and All Saints. Her films have been official selections at the Sydney Film Festival, Flickerfest and many more.
Jane in Love
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
Released 4th February 2020