A Jane Austen Daydream Book Review
I was really excited to read A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard. I am a huge Jane Austen fan, and we’ve been impressed with other novels by Southard. Heidi actually reviewed Megan by Scott D. Southard- it can be found here. A thank you goes out to Southard and his publishers who sent us a copy to enjoy and to review.
The Good: The tone of this novel goes hand in hand with the title – it is whimsical and lovely… much like what you’d expect from anything associated with a daydream. If you are a Jane Austen fan, it will be easy to enjoy this novel, so long as you remind yourself that it is fiction. Southard, as far as I understand, did do a lot of research about the Austen family, but the actual gritty details that the story explores seem to be entirely fictional.
It’s a fun and easy read. I love anything that transports me into the Austen universe/timeframe, and this novel definitely does the trick. There was a good balance of humor, tragedy, and drama. I especially enjoyed the comic relief provided by Charles and Henry.
It reads like fan fiction – and I mean the good fan fiction, the stuff that gets published (which it did!). But it makes it light and just enjoyable… it’s a novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is refreshing.
There’s also wonderful passages that detail Jane Austen’s inspiration/dedication to her writing. These were my favorite parts. These parts also showcase the great respect that Southard has for Jane Austen and just for writers/the process of writing in general. It was wonderful.
The Bad: The characters here, who were actual, real-life people in Jane Austen’s life, seem almost too similar to some of the characters in her various novels. I understand the temptation to do this. However, I think it somewhat unintentionally discounts Austen’s imagination – instead of creating original characters, this seems to suggest that she just renamed them in her stories. Mrs. Austen and Mrs. Bennett’s similarities were the most striking and perhaps the most irksome to me. I always found Mrs. Bennett to be an exaggerated character – a literary device used to critique the women who resembled her. No one actually was Mrs. Bennett; she was just a collection of bad habits that people actually had that deserved to be criticized. I think she was inspired by many people, not just Jane Austen’s mother, although this story seems to suggest that Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Austen are one in the same. Even Mrs. Austen herself makes the connection in the novel.
The Verdict: This is a must read for any Jane Austen fan. And it’s a perfect summer read for anyone.
Written by Rachel B.
Rachel is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She recently graduated with a degree in English. Presently, she writes, reads, and then reads and writes some more, with a giant and ever-present mug of green tea in her hand. Follow Rachel @rrbindl and DNFB @not4birds