Hello everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay. Now, I’ve been a fan of Katherine’s for some time now, so when I heard about her new release for this year, I jumped at the chance to read it and share my thoughts with all of you! Needless to say, my enthusiasm was well founded!
To be completely honest with you, it took me some time to fully get into this novel. The premise of the story and Katherine’s history as a writer are what drew me to this book, but it was not something that I connected with right away. Of course, many Austen fans have read books like Austenland, and this story is similar in some respects to that one. However, the tone of this book is definitely more serious and soul searching. In a way, it mirrors Austen’s writing, especially in Persuasion (which is my personal favorite). The best way to describe The Austen Escape would be to compare it to a fast food restaurant versus a chef’s table dining experience. In most novels (especially in this inspirational romance genre with which I have a love/hate relationship), the plot is somewhat rushed and the quality of the characters and story arcs suffers as a result. While the experience you have is pretty lackluster, you get a fast and somewhat filling “meal”. Unfortunately, these types of experiences don’t stick with you for long. On the other hand, with a chef’s table dining experience, you are a guest of the chef, and you take your time slowly sampling superior quality dishes (often specialties) that take much longer to prepare and enjoy. This type of experience stays with you, and most all future meals are compared to this one. It becomes, in essence, the new standard. For me, The Austen Escape has become my new standard.
In a way, reading this book reminded me of the popular “childhood friends to lovers” trope that exists in the romance genre. You walk with it, grow with it, and then one day you realize that what you’ve been looking for has always been there. It doesn’t smack you in the face with false charm or pretense; it’s honest, dependable, and way more fulfilling. My journey with Mary led me to examine myself carefully, and sometimes, what I saw was painful. Holding up a mirror like this one to your insecurities is usually like that. I think that my initial difficulty in getting into this story was partly my own fault. The truth hurts, and sometimes, you just don’t want to hear it. But, opening myself up and being willing to listen, grow, and change (that’s what this book has done for me) made this book come alive. I’m glad I read it. To me, this is what all literature should do. You should not be the same person when you finish it as when you started out.
With all that
drivel being said, I will close by sharing my favorite quote from this story. I feel it sums up my feelings on the book (and my own life) pretty succinctly.
“Sometimes you can’t see something clearly until you step away from it.”
I received this book from the author, but I was in no way required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my own. Pre-order it today or pick it up wherever books are sold on November 7th!