Review: By the Book

Published February 6th 2018, 384 pages

Author: Julia Sonneborn

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

Personal Review

A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion – As it is a modernization of a well-known story, there should be no surprises about how the entire book turns out. You go into it knowing the general ending, but you read it for the feel-good aspect and to figure out how our main character will arrive at that conclusion. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you are a fan of the Jane Austen format.

Our heroine is Anne Corey, an English professor at Fairfax, a small liberal arts college (located just outside Los Angeles, CA). She is balancing being broke, attempting to get tenure as a way to gain job security (hinging on the publishing of her own book), and just trying to get by in life. She soon learns that her ex-fiancé Adam will become the college’s next president. Awkwardness ensues as Anne attempts to avoid Adam at every turn. It’s an interesting concept how it’s been awhile since they broke up and they both on the surface have seemed to move on, but Anne can’t even bring herself to have a heart to heart with Adam despite her wanting to. I guess it would be a story if the characters just talked it out rather than go through a series of misunderstandings. Instead, Anne starts a relationship with a well-known handsome and charming writer, who ends up working as a writer-in-residence at the college. Anne has leftover feelings for Adam now that she’s around him again, but she’s enjoying the romance with her new beau. Anne now has to figure out if she should stay with her suave writer or if it might be worth exploring her feelings for Adam again even though she believes he is still angry at her for the end of their previous relationship.

Anne’s best friend and colleague Larry has a fantastic side story with his own love affair. He brings levity to the story as he’s an over-the-top character and a great friend to Anne. We all need a Larry at work and in life!  I can agree with some readers that Larry can be a bit-much at times, but his presence in the story helped mellow out my impression of him. If he appeared on every page, I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed him as much.

The characters in this book are semi-likable, but there are moments where I found myself rolling my eyes at the situations. As a whole it seems that even though she is the main character, the others seem to steal the show in many scenes. When Larry and Anne are together, I found myself more invested in his life than I was with hers. It also was the same for Adam and Anne together as I found Adam to be a more compelling character. I didn’t dislike Anne, but she was just out-shone in many places in the story.

As for the story itself, the way the events play out seemed rushed at times and then slower in others. It was like a roller-coaster of speed so it was hard to fully enjoy when you go a mile a minute following along and then it all of a sudden slows way down. It’s a little easier when it goes slower to set it all up and then speeds up to read the climax and then it can slow down slightly to do the wrap up. This story went slow, fast, fast, slow, fast, slow, fast….to that effect as reading it seems like the author couldn’t make up her mind about how she wanted to present the events. However, the writing itself was enjoyable as it was a nice balance of being descriptive of the events without rambling.

To summarize my opinion of this book, it would be to say that it is important to keep in mind that this is a re-telling and not an original work, meaning the ending has been written before you get to the first page. There is a lack of depth for the characters and events as the writing works its way to get to our ending, but that’s not the reasons you would’ve picked up this book in the first place. Unlike some other novels I’ve read, I went into this one knowing that I was getting a light, fun, and heartwarming read. I didn’t need as many details or character development that I would usually expect as it wasn’t something I anticipated to be included in this novel.  I highly recommend any Austen fans and any other readers who want a nice rom-com story to give them joy.

2 thoughts on “Review: By the Book

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s