Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

191Falling 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.

My Thoughts: Hands down, one of my favorite Austen inspired stories of the year!! I LOVED this fresh plot. Kudos to Reay for her creativity with this one. It wasn’t a retelling and yet all the Austenish things someone could hope for were present. The references were always explained so you don’t have to be a life-long Austen fan to understand the story at hand . . . and, yet, being an Austen fan makes it all the sweeter.
The setting was easy to visualize. The characters were richly layered. I enjoyed watching Mary and Isabel come to a deeper understanding of themselves and each other.
I’d like to point out that I really believe this novel falls into the Clean Fiction category instead of Christian Fiction. The difference is that in Christian Fiction, any lesson the characters learn is learned through or attributed to Christ. In The Austen Escape, the characters didn’t appear to have any religious affiliation whatsoever. The novel is, however, very clean. There was no language. Nothing overly passionate or graphically unnecessary or vulgar. As a dry Baptist, I didn’t appreciate the social drinking scenes. But even in this, the social drinking felt more like a backdrop and not a focal point. I’ll admit that I was a tad bit lost in the first chapter when the focus is on Mary’s work and the drama surrounding it. I don’t have a scientific brain so a lot of the info was over my head. However, Reay’s depth of research is awe-inspiring. If anyone else gets off to a rocky start like I did, just keep going. Things will smooth out in a couple of chapters and you’ll capture what was most important from those scenes.
At the end of the day, The Austen Escape was a delightful novel and has earned a place on my reread list.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Austen Escape 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Clean Contemporary Fiction or for Austen fans of any age.

~ I received a copy from the publisher. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

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