[Everything Austen II] I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend

Everything Austen II is a challenge hosted by Stephanie over at Stephanie's Written Word.
The goal: To read 6 Austen-themed works between July 1, 2010 and January 1, 2011.
The progress so far:
1: Persuasion (Jane Austen)
2: Emma (Jane Austen)
3: Mr. Knightley's Diary (Amanda Grange)
4: The Darcys Give a Ball (Elizabeth Newark)
5: I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend (Cora Harrison)

United States cover
I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend
Cora Harrison
Delacorte Books, 2010

I first learned about this back in the spring, when it was still months and months from releasing in the US. I was so excited about it though, I made plans to buy the UK edition since it was already out (plus, that cover is so incredibly cute! LOVE it!). Those plans never materialized, but my library bought a copy and I managed to snag it first. (Love-love-love when that happens).

UK cover

Going into the reading, I really wasn't sure what I'd get - the basic premise is that this is the diary of Jane Austen's cousin/best friend Jenny Cooper, and tells the story of how Jane helped Jenny with matters of the heart. I was expecting a light, fun read - and got that, but also got more. Harrison crafted a lovely story that offered a glimpse at what it must have been like to grow up with Jane Austen. In the adventures (and misadventures) Jenny and Jane share, you can see the beginnings of the stories and characters that would go on to become Jane's contribution to the literary world. Jenny's take on the Austen family is enough of an 'outsider' to be able to see things Jane cannot, but she's still very much a part of that close circle. It is in this circle that she becomes better acquainted with herself, and discovers what it means to fall in love.

I enjoyed the book, it was cute and fun, but also had a lot of interesting little details. Harrison, in her author's note, states that she drew heavily from surviving letters of Mrs. Austen and Jenny Cooper (who was actually also called "Jane"). I was amused by comparing what was going on in the book, and the characters, with what occured in Becoming Jane -- some interesting overlap.

Book provided by my local library.

1 comment:

  1. I want to read this one! You have great posts on so many different Austen-like books/movies! Love it!