Review: According to Jane, by Marilyn Brant

According to Jane
According to Jane
Marilyn Brant
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Summary (From
It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett’s teacher is assigning Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. From nowhere comes a quiet ‘tsk’ of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who’s teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author’s ghost has taken up residence in Ellie’s mind, and seems determined to stay there. Jane’s wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go – sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane’s counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham. Still, everyone has something to learn about love – perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie’s head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending.

I have to confess: one of the reasons I chose to read According to Jane was that I got it free for my Kindle, and I like free. I’m really glad I downloaded it though, because this was a delightful novel, and totally worth its real cover price.

As someone who dabbles in fan-fic from time to time, I really liked the concept of an author or character taking up residence in someone’s brain and spouting off advice, and Brant managed to take that concept and spin a delightful story. Imagine having Jane Austen herself whispering in your ear when you most need it, or just making curt observations about the people in your life. Lead character Ellie doesn’t have to imagine, it happens to her, and while the version of Jane who has moved into her brain restricts her advice to love and personal relationships, and not general info (like acne rosacea treatment, for example) they end up in a very special kind of long-term relationship.

Of course this is a contemporary piece of fiction that skirts the lines between women’s fiction, chick-lit and true romance, so it has to have humor and it has to have sex, and Brant delivers just enough of each to keep the reader satisfied. There’s also nice character growth, particularly from Sam (the main male lead in the novel, and Ellie’s love interest) and Ellie’s older sister, who starts out as a bully and ends up as a friend.

This isn’t the type of novel people are going to write long treatises about, or debate in classrooms, but if you’re looking for an entertaining read that can be devoured in a single rainy afternoon, this book is for you.

Goes well with: hot chocolate and Milano cookies.