Saturday, November 25, 2017

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Austen Escape" by Katherine Reay

Book Summary: Falling into the past will change their futures forever.
Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.
But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.
Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

My thoughts... On the surface, this novel may seem like a Christian fiction version of Austenland. I actually haven't read that book, but saw the movie and thought the concept was very entertaining. In my single days I would've loved to have a Pride and Prejudice-like experience...dressing up in period clothing, staying in an English mansion, etc. But this book is no Austenland. Katherine Reay's novels have a uniqueness and depth all their own.

Of the books I have read of Katherine Reay's, I've noticed that the emotional and psychological journeys of the characters play a huge role in the plot. Mary and Isabel have a complicated friendship. They are almost like sisters in many ways, as they practically grew up together. Isabel can be very manipulative and Mary tends to like being out of the spotlight. There were times in this story that I was very irritated with Isabel's behavior, but as the story went on and the backstory was revealed a bit at a time, you can see why she acted the way she did. Isabel's break with reality also helped Mary to see the depth of her friend's struggles, as well as her own. I appreciated their journey and also enjoyed the romantic elements of the story.

I know there is so much more depth to this story than I'm even picking up on, but even so, I thought this novel was well-written and explores the many layers of the human heart and mind.

**I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest review, which I did**