A review by Annabelle Lee
A tale of desperation, romance, misunderstanding, feminism with a dash of time travel! Jane in Love has it all! A stunning debut novel from Australian author Rachel Givney, Jane in Love is due for release on February 4th, 2020.
As you may imagine, the Jane in the title is none other than the beloved author, Jane Austen.
Desperate to find a husband and avoid the shame of spinsterhood, a 28-year-old Jane will try anything. A mysterious matchmaker sends her on a journey to find her one true love. The only issue is that he lives in 2020! Jane finds herself trying to navigate the modern world and convince a cynical stranger who she really is. She is fascinated to discover her fame and the existence of her books, the only issue being, she hasn’t written them yet. However, her books begin to disappear. As she tries to find her way back to her own time, Jane is surprised to discover an unfamiliar feeling around a certain handsome gentleman.
Jane in Love poses the ultimate question: is it more important find love, or to follow your dreams?
The story opens in Jane’s own time (1803) where we get to explore Bath with her and learn how she feels about the writing she loves but her mother bans, and about her desire to appease her family by finding a husband. The culture and customs of this time are seamlessly woven into the story, making Jane’s conflicting motivations understandable. It’s entertaining to experience such a well-known figure fleshed out and living her life.
Jane speaks in a voice that feels appropriate for her time, classic, but also easy to understand. When she travels to modern day her voice doesn’t change, even though her surroundings, and the speech patterns of everyone around her are suddenly modern. This adds authenticity to her character.
Jane in 2020
Experiencing modern day life through the eyes of someone from 200 years ago (carriages without horses, phrases she hasn’t heard before but manages to get the gist of), brings a fresh perspective on our current existence. Everyday conveniences are once again curious wonders. The fun that Givney appeared to have writing this experience shines through the story.
One of the best features of this book is the friend that Jane finds. She is a famous actress called Sofia trying to hold onto her fame as younger and bouncier actresses steal the limelight. Sofia’s story is a tragedy hidden behind a glamorous mask. She is in denial about the state of her life (and the existence of time travel), though as she befriends Jane and finds a different purpose she begins to find herself again. Of all the colourful supporting characters, Sofia is a highlight.
Jane in Love is a book to relish and adore. Right from the first page it is easy to read and addictive. Givney has brought Jane to life in the form of a deliciously rebellious, stubborn but sweet character.
Even though this is a light, joyful read, it also has enough struggle and pain to keep it grounded. The characters experience depth of emotion and face impossible decisions with genuine heartache. Though it could have easily been just fluff, Jane in Love is a moving and inspiring story of courage and kindness. Additionally, it takes the opportunity to explore the vast cultural differences in feminist thought across the 200 years and celebrates Jane Austen’s contribution to the issue.
Jane in Love is a delight and a triumph. Set across two time periods, it captures the charm of both. As Jane falls in love, we are the ones falling in love with the cast of flawed, charming characters. It is a book to relish and adore. Right from the first page it is easy to read and addictive. Givney has brought Jane to life in the form of a deliciously rebellious, stubborn but sweet character. It’s a book to get lost in and escape, and after it ends, you will revisit it in your mind for a long time afterwards, just for the pleasure of it.
Read Jane in Love if you loved This is how it always is. – Editor.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Published: 4 February 2020
Imprint: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Format: Trade Paperback, 416 Pages
Categories: historical fiction, time travel, speculative fiction, romance
Reviewer Annabelle Lee
Annabelle Lee is a chronic book nerd who loves nothing more than a good story and some people to talk to about the story. Congratulations, you are now those people. Occasionally she puts down a book long enough to take care of her kids and even to write and illustrate some books of her own. You can find her horribly punny series of picture books for grown ups on Facebook and Instagram, or all good online bookstores.
DMZ discovered Annabelle Lee at Impact Comics’s festival where Annabelle showed us her hilarious adult picture books.