Monday, January 16, 2012

ESCAPE TO THE PAST WITH: I was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a YA historical novel to relax and enjoy myself. So, this weekend, I borrowed a book from my daughter’s shelf: I was Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Cora Harrison. This book combines a bit of fictional biography of the young Jane Austen with a YA romance.

Jenny Cooper is Jane Austen’s orphaned cousin. After heroically coming to the rescue when Jane was desperately ill at boarding school, Jenny is invited to stay with the Austens at their home in the country. There Jenny is surrounded by Jane’s large family (six brothers and a sister), not to mention all her father’s pupils. The shy, sixteen-year-old Jenny finds the Austens lively, fun, and a little overwhelming. There is always something happening, and Jenny’s life opens up to more laughter, teasing, and friendship than she’d ever known before. She also learns a thing or two about flirting – a brand new experience for her. But of course, at this age, romance - meaning true love - is foremost in her thoughts.

Young Jane Austen is a steadfast friend and her outspokenness and confidence are the perfect complement to Jenny’s reticence, while Jenny’s common sense balances Jane’s impulsiveness. The story does a very nice job of imagining Jane’s teenage years and her early striving to be a writer.

Jenny was a lovely character to root for – far stronger than she gave herself credit for being. It was delightful watching her grow in confidence. The hero is sweet, making for a charming love story.

I haven’t studied Jane Austen’s life in any detail, but Cora Harrison has. By report, this book was extensively researched and is based on much that is true from Jane’s early life. So now I’m more interested in digging into Austen’s biography. So much for a nice relaxing read. Now I have more work to do!

January has been a good month for historical fiction. I'm moving right along in the historical fiction challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry.


  1. This sounds so wonderfully escapist - a good one for when life is boring/dull.

  2. OLD FOLLOWER...great post/review.

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  3. Thanks for the review. The book sounds like one I would enjoy so I'll definitely be adding it to my list.

  4. I find it extraordinary how many Jane Austen books there are. Reimaginings. Sequels. Time slip stuff. And more and more all the time. The good ones can be great fun, and even the not so great ones can help pass an idle moment. Good to hear you liked this one.

  5. Sounds like a charming book to curl up with on a chilly Sunday. (I don't know why, but I always thing Sundays are the best day for reading historical novels!) Great review.