Katherine Reay. The Austen Escape. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017.
Lately, I’ve been watching my fair share of British television, whether in the form of recent releases or some older productions that have been from years past. Some of the most amusing have involved putting modern-day people in historical situations, as they rarely have the basic knowledge to make it through a historical day. Ms. Reay’s most recent novel takes a look at a very similar situation, with hysterical results. :)
Ms. Reay’s newest novel, The Austen Escape, features the friendship of Mary Davies and Isabel Dwyer. Mary has her life together with a great job as an engineer at a start-up with excellent prospects. Through her job, she has met a handsome consultant, who has turned into a trusted friend and possibly more. However, Isabel soon cuts in on Mary’s life, when she springs a two-week trip to England as an emergency that could further strain or fix their friendship. Isabel depends on the trip as an essential piece of her dissertation research on recreating Jane Austen’s literature, leaving Mary to cram in reading of all of Austen’s works. Without Isabel’s scholarly knowledge of Austen’s world, Mary is left floundering through the early days of living on an historic estate with period-costumed guests. When Isabel loses her memory and believes that she really lives in Austen’s Regency era, Mary must save the day with the help of the rest of the manor’s guests and a few surprise assistants from home.
The Austen Escape proves Ms. Reay’s brilliance at interweaving classic literature with modern-day situational humor. Fans of PBS’s historical dramas and reality shows will find themselves eagerly delving into this delightful novel.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Austen Escape! This novel stands out as my personal favorite novel by Ms. Reay, as she brings a wonderful sense of humor to this story. Additionally, her characters offer a very different cast from her other books, as well as those found in similar works in the genre of contemporary Christian fiction and literary-inspired novels. Mary and Isabel serve as just the beginning of a highly-layered cast of characters, with their own faults and accomplishments shown to great effect in this story of misunderstandings, escape, and second chances. While other storylines in books and television shows have explored the concept of modern-day people living in a Regency Era or Austen-inspired environment, Ms. Reay’s rendition offers a new level of humor and wit to this unique setting. Particularly, the novel’s contrasting of Mary and her engineering mind in a world of manners and social occasions offers great moments that readers will find absolutely charming.
Fans of Ms. Reay’s previous novels will definitely want to read The Austen Escape. Likewise, readers who enjoy literature-inspired contemporary fiction or Christian fiction will find this book to be well worth tracking down.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the advanced copy of The Austen Escape!
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