Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Fun and Reflective Journey | Review of The Austen Escape

About the Book

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 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 arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

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My Rating


My Review

This was one of those reads where I succumbed to "peer pressure" a good way. :) Online friends were planning a read-along, fellow bloggers seemed so excited about this release, and I wanted to join in the fun. Plus, I knew from reading more by this author that she is talented in creating characters with flaws, heart, and a need to dig deep within life's struggles.

The Austen Escape has such a great cast of characters. It's not that I always approved of their choices or behavior, but that I felt drawn into their world. I think Mary, the heroine, is quite fascinating with her career in a tech-heavy sphere but having buried passions for music and Jane Austen's books. And her relationships are quite complicated, as, like many of us, she doesn't always say what should be said or see what ought to be seen. Still, she cares and has the capacity to change, which makes her relatable all the same.

I loved the older couple who are part of the English "escape." Helene and her husband are dears, and I adore how their love for each other is so palpable. They each want the other to be happy and understood, and their interactions with the rest of the group are really sweet.

As for the main "escape," it's fun to get some Austenland vibes, but with a very different sort of tone. Things are a little more somber, a little more reflective, in Mary's experience at Braithwaite, although there are lighthearted moments. I enjoyed the descriptions of the place—inside the house and on the grounds—and I liked how things take a turn when more characters are added to the mix.

As for the Jane Austen references, I confess they're both familiar and yet have a different Reay-flair. There are some moments that made me happy with what they meant, and others where it felt like an inside joke I wouldn't understand. Perhaps that's more my problem, as I still have a lot of Austen lingo and depth to learn. :) But I think it does make the story a bit less accessible, feeling a little more like it's intended for others who know every line and every character of Austen's stories.

I also feel a bit torn about the ending...wanting more, and yet not. It's both neatly wrapped up, and yet a bit rushed, perhaps? Questions are answered, and yet I'd love just a bit more time and space for resolution regarding the relational side of things. (Not saying the book should be longer, necessarily, as the length is great!) Still, it's a satisfying and challenging ending, and I like that it brings the story full circle.

The Austen Escape provides what it's title offers, but like all escapes, there's a time when you should go home and face the choices that affect everyday life. This novel allows both the characters and the reader to enjoy the journey...and the return.

*With thanks to TNZ Fiction and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book.*

Other Katherine Reay Books I've Reviewed...
Lizzy & Jane


Miranda Atchley said...

I've been hearing mixed reviews on this book. While I'm not as big a fan of Reay as lot of people are, I still like her books and am looking forward to reading this one. I'm glad you enjoy it, even if some parts may have been a little lacking. Hope you're doing well, Amber! :-)

Amber Holcomb said...


I think you'll like it! :) I've read a few of her books now, and I think I liked this better than Lizzy & Jane, from what I recall. I have The Bronte Plot on my Kindle and need to read that one sometime!

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I'm doing well and looking forward to the holidays. :) Hope you're doing well too, and happy Thanksgiving!!