The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

The Austen Escape

After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. B...

Title:The Austen Escape
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The Austen Escape Reviews

  • Beth

    I’m always impressed by how Katherine Reay’s stories begin. One moment, I’m wondering when I’m going to start feeling the story and the characters, then the next I’m completely into everything. She has this way of bringing a character, their unique qualities, and their circumstances to life. While I have read several of Jane Austen novels, I did wonder if I would be lost in some of the details about her characters and how they connected with this story. While The Austen Escape is permeated with

    I’m always impressed by how Katherine Reay’s stories begin. One moment, I’m wondering when I’m going to start feeling the story and the characters, then the next I’m completely into everything. She has this way of bringing a character, their unique qualities, and their circumstances to life. While I have read several of Jane Austen novels, I did wonder if I would be lost in some of the details about her characters and how they connected with this story. While The Austen Escape is permeated with Jane Austen in the best of ways, it doesn’t simply regurgitate one of her stories. Instead, Reay creates something entirely new and fresh, with a charm all its own.

    One of my favorite things about this story is the focus on Mary’s friendship with Isabel. Although I didn’t actually like Isabel very much, the complexity of their relationship and the development it undergoes throughout the story held my attention. Their shared history is explained in such a way that made me feel invested, despite my misgivings about Isabel. Mary herself is an endearing character, even when I wished she would stand up for herself. Her occupation, engineering, is something I know basically nothing about, but Reay makes it exciting and relatable, and dare I say, almost poetic. Engineering and Austen are two things that I would never put together, but leave Katherine Reay to do it with ease and style.

    I also must mention the fairytale-like quality of Mary’s time in Bath. The descriptions of the attire, the customs, the manor house, and Bath itself had me enthralled and add such an authentic feeling to the story. Just the whole idea of an immersive Austen experience is fascinating, and I loved experiencing it along with Mary. The romance is secondary, in my opinion, to Mary’s personal growth, although it certainly adds a sweet layer to the story, and I would have missed it had it not been included.

    The Austen Escape is another winning novel by Katherine Reay. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment reading it. Fans of her previous novels are sure to find another gem in this story. For those who haven’t read any of her books, start with this one or start with another – all of her novels have a unique twist, and there’s no wrong place to start.

    I received a complimentary copy of this novel, which I chose to review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

  • Hannah

    I truly loved this story of friendship and adopted sisters and a dash of Regency flair...excellent little story.

    It was really neat to me to have a lady electrician as a heroine. Her job as an electrical engineer defines who she is, and she's strong and feminine at the same time.

  • Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)

    Another book to add to my top favorites of the year! At first I wondered if this book would be similar to others that have the characters dressing up and playacting in Regency form, but I needn't have worried- while there is a bit of that, it is taken to a higher level by Katherine Reay's unique writing style. This is a book that you just *feel*. While there is a great focus on the complex dynamics of the relationships Mary has with Isabel and Nathan, I loved that it delved just as deeply into h

    Another book to add to my top favorites of the year! At first I wondered if this book would be similar to others that have the characters dressing up and playacting in Regency form, but I needn't have worried- while there is a bit of that, it is taken to a higher level by Katherine Reay's unique writing style. This is a book that you just *feel*. While there is a great focus on the complex dynamics of the relationships Mary has with Isabel and Nathan, I loved that it delved just as deeply into her struggles with her job as an engineer and the part of her identity that is tied up in it. I loved her father and the influence he is on her life and creativity, he is such a great addition to the story and made it richer. I could relate to Mary's mixed feelings of resentment and love that she has for Isabel. There's something about growing up with a longtime friend that gives you so many experiences of good, bad, and in between that it's almost like family in how it shapes your personality. It was fascinating to see how Mary becomes more aware of Isabel's struggles and the way that she deals with the fallout of secrets that come to light. The simmering attraction between Nathan and Mary was delicious because the reader can tell how much they like the other but they are unaware of each other's interest... until they slowly become more brave in expressing that interest. It's not without conflict of course, and the anticipation while they worked things out was killing me- I just LOVED it!!! Highly recommend.

    (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

  • Rachel McMillan

    "When there are serious matters to discuss, Austen women walk. And it has the side benefit of keeping our figures so light and pleasing."

    I have to admit I have been getting a little tired of Austen everything. So many updates. So many re-imaginings--- But, if anyone can do Austen, Reay can. Especially because she doesn't just transpose a story into a new setting, she interweaves a new story with new characters, nuances and worlds with the timeless sensibility and humour of Jane Austen. Even whil

    "When there are serious matters to discuss, Austen women walk. And it has the side benefit of keeping our figures so light and pleasing."

    I have to admit I have been getting a little tired of Austen everything. So many updates. So many re-imaginings--- But, if anyone can do Austen, Reay can. Especially because she doesn't just transpose a story into a new setting, she interweaves a new story with new characters, nuances and worlds with the timeless sensibility and humour of Jane Austen. Even while you are not reading ye olde "Austen Update" that merely parallels Austen heroes and heroines in a modern setting, you are being confronted by an invigorated re-visitation of Austen's wisdom. When this strikes you, midway through the book, you recognize that Reay is far smarter than you initially could have thought. This is not just a nod to Austen, this is a thesis ABOUT Austen (specifically her relationship with Bath and her inter-textual connections about love, wisdom and modern relationships) told in prosaic form.

    It's not often that fiction is supplanted with such an academic tenet; but that is what makes Reay one of my favourite writers. With all of her Austen and Bronte and Weber infused prose, she makes a statement about the books she pays homage to. It is this added layer that asserts her as one of the finest contemporary voices.

    But while I get all stodgily English major-y on you, what makes Reay a must-read is her natural accessibility. While this certainly offers a grand wink and nudge to fans of Austen's work on a deeper level, so it is a keen and sparkly colourful carousel of characters transplanted into a Regency-modern hybrid in present-day Bath.

    Mary Davies is a quiet engineer who works for WATT, a startup in Austin, Texas. Constulant Nathan is one of the brightest parts of her day. While she works to gauge disappointment that her latest optical project Golightly ( yes, THAT is Holly Golightly) didn't take off, she assembles wire animals at her desk and works to decipher the extra attentions Nate gives to her. Work complications and a new manager, however, inspire her to accept her life-long friend Isabel's invitation for a vacation at an Austen-themed estate near Bath. Deciding to escape the everyday and clear her head, she follows Isabel into a world of costumes and balls, of traditional manners and eccentric participants who acquire a personage from the books for their stay.

    But Isabel is not as balanced as she seems and her domineering friend soon begins to show a remarkable mental instability, actually thinking she is Emma Woodhouse and speaking in the sequences and memories of Austen's canon. While Mary struggles to reach her friend, she discovers Isabel's connection to Nathan, who has sparked her life for so long it has flickered into a kind of unending flame. Hurt and confused---mostly by Nathan's own arrival at the estate--- Mary navigates the map of herself while amidst a fresh and inviting, humorous and whimsical world patronized by " clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation."

    Human relations and fallacy, the map of the human mind, the friction between literature and art chafing against science and logic and math: all in a carefully constructed waltz.

    I have spent some time in Bath and was happy when the resplendently unique city was drawn to colourful life by Reay's consistent canvas. As Seattle, Chicago, Italy and Ha'worth before, Bath becomes a pulsing throbbing city-- the antidote to the surging Austin heat.

    While this book may remind readers of Austenland by Shannon Hale, it takes a step further in immersing the reader not just in a surfacely Austen world of Regency mannerisms and dialect; rather a deeper look at the wisdom of Austen and her prodding and poking into the deepest tenets of human nature. There is a particularly profound moment that finds Mary understanding more about Austen's relationship to Bath beyond the lens of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey that made me shoot up and think.

    this book glistens.

    What makes The Austen Escape different than all other Austen updates and adaptations is that rather than just making a contemporary parallel of an Austen story and Austen characters, she works a profound and meaningful thesis about Austen into prosaic form. And that is why the Austen Escape is an integral companion to the study of Austen in the 21st Century.

    [with thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy]

    A few quotes:

    "As the morning rolled up its sleeves and got ready to welcome its friend afternoon, the sunshine held fast in the clear sky."

    "And Nathan fished. The silence was light and lovely until I realized it wasn't silence at all. The stream gurgled, birds chirped, something called in the distance."

    "Something had been missing and its absence only felt with its return. Nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it but you must create an opening. Music was that opening. It felt as if the universe was expanding right before me, in a ballroom in Bath,"

    "And I was diminishing--as one should before the size and unending grandeur of the universe. It wasn't that I was smaller or less significant; it simply felt like I didn't need to fight for a place within it or for my own protection. "

    "I waited too and watched the stars. A few flickered and the sky felt like music. Music required honesty."

  • Sarah Monzon

    I have read every single Katherine Reay book written so I know her style. When the beginning started a little slow, I just sat back and got comfortable, knowing she was setting the stage and aligning her characters in a way that was going to stretch my understanding of human emotional journeys through classic literature. The setting of an "Austen Escape" was fun (one I'd love to experience) but that was only the backdrop...this book is so much more than that. It speaks of friendship, of understa

    I have read every single Katherine Reay book written so I know her style. When the beginning started a little slow, I just sat back and got comfortable, knowing she was setting the stage and aligning her characters in a way that was going to stretch my understanding of human emotional journeys through classic literature. The setting of an "Austen Escape" was fun (one I'd love to experience) but that was only the backdrop...this book is so much more than that. It speaks of friendship, of understanding the unspoken and brokenness within us all, of stepping out of shadows and being brace and vulnerable to truly be oneself. True to life, the characters have messy histories and sometimes make huge mistakes that stem from hurts not healed.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the insights and reintroduction to beloved Austen characters and books. There were a lot of good quotes, and I wish I'd highlitrd them along the way to save.

    I'd recommend escaping a few hours in the pages of this book.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

  • Julie Carpenter

    I previously read a book,

    , by Katherine Reay and was completely pulled in by her writing style, the prose, the storyline, the characters. Very well done. I had also seen several friends loving her other Austen style books, so when I saw this available for review I jumped at the chance. I've been waiting for the release date to be a little closer before I read and reviewed it. Well when it hit a month away I couldn't wait any longer. I picked up my kindle and dove right

    I previously read a book,

    , by Katherine Reay and was completely pulled in by her writing style, the prose, the storyline, the characters. Very well done. I had also seen several friends loving her other Austen style books, so when I saw this available for review I jumped at the chance. I've been waiting for the release date to be a little closer before I read and reviewed it. Well when it hit a month away I couldn't wait any longer. I picked up my kindle and dove right in.

    I had noticed that several other reviewers were saying that the beginning was a bit slow but at a certain point in the book, it picked up. I would have to agree with them that, yes it was a bit slow. But, the beginning is crucial for introducing our heroine. Mary, oh what to say about Mary? This story really revolves around a long standing friendship. A complicated, messy, and sometimes one sided friendship. And that one sidedness isn't just delegated to one friend, both friends in this relationship can be accused of being one sided. That's probably not very clear and I'm sorry because, well, it's complicated. What I will clarify with is, kids. Yes, kids. How often as kids did we see everything perfectly clear? No rose colored glasses at all? I'd say rose colored glasses a lot of the time. Most kids only see what's straight ahead, no peripheral vision (understanding) and that, I think, is a great way to describe this friendship. A friendship between Mary and Isabel. A friendship that started way back in elementary school. Two broken little girls, trying to make semblance out of their lives. One more stable than the other, but still feeling like everything around her is falling apart. The other, completely uprooted, degraded, neglected, broken. Again, I know that's vague, but this story is about that relationship and how years later, after this friendship has settled and follows a strict routine, enlightenment comes and it redefines and opens and changes everything.

    Ok, enough about that. I really hadn't meant to write about that when I sat to type my review out. But as I've called my reviews before, Julie's rambling thoughts, my thoughts come tumbling out how they may and I just type away happily as they do.

    Back to my thoughts about the beginning of this book, and Mary. I love Mary's character. Not to be spoiler-ish but a character in the book (not saying who) says to Mary on a couple different occasions, "what must it be like to live in your head?". I absolutely loved that line, because as the reader, we get to live in Mary's head throughout the whole book. For me, having the book written this way made it feel raw and real, the emotions and the moments of understanding, were that much more real. And I felt the connection to Mary strengthened because of the perspective we see of her life. So, although it might feel slow, it is important. The tidbits of background given, the friends/coworkers introduced in the beginning will play a role throughout the book.

    I feel as if I could write forever and ever on my thoughts for this book. I don't want my review to be massively long so I'm trying to pull out some of my favorite points of the story.

    Mary ends up going on a trip with her friend, Isabel, to Bath. Or more accurately to an estate located a few miles from Bath, in England. Isabel is an aficionado for all things Jane Austen. The trip is really part of her research for her final project. Live at a manor house, and become immersed in the true lifestyle of the Regency era. Escapism. I really loved the thoughts that the author gave us on this sort of Escapism. Is it real? What happens when the lines of reality and make believe blur? In a way one of the characters could be said to have escaped into her books, into the world of Jane Austen and become so consumed with it all, that she didn't live fully in reality. Now, there is a whole lot more surrounding those thoughts and why the Escapism for this character, and I'm not going to even go there. That is something you must read this book for and discover for yourself. But as I said, I really enjoyed the thoughts that the author showed us through several different scenes of the book, how characters set aside fully living by settling, or living through something else (not all were living in books). It was wonderful to see all the characters' perspectives on this as well, whether they realized it or not. How much of our reality is disillusioned? How much do we have our own sort of Escapism?

    Another theme that was throughout the whole book was, our individualism verses allowing others into our lives, not as an opposite of the Escapism I was talking about earlier, but more as relying on them, allowing them to help us. Not fighting battles, or experiencing life isolated, living in our own heads/world, but living and interacting, and making connections with those around us. Even when the connections we have made don't always turn out, or appear as we thought. All of these thoughts I'm talking about are some of the questions that Mary has to work out for herself in this book. Will she be able to take off the rose colored glasses from her youth, or her rose colored glasses that have been protecting her from healing from her losses, or any other rose colored glasses that she has been wearing? Those moments when she makes a choice and watching the unfolding scene after she's chosen were my favorite parts of this book. Some of those choices dealt with people, some with work, some were her personal experiences. But I loved those moments of, I think the best word here would be, Enlightenment.

    This review wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention how much I loved the idea, and the execution of the idea, of the characters who are vacationing at the manor house and dressing up in period costumes choosing characters from Jane Austen's books. They become those characters while staying at the manor home. And let me tell you, I loved Mary's choices. Yes, choices. Because she is on a journey of discovery and what she first believes of herself isn't necessarily what she discovers her true self to be. Happy sigh! I can't quite bring myself to share too much about the love interest. Because yes, there is most definitely a love interest in this book...two actually. And no, not for the same character. It's messy and complicated and perfect all at the same time. Again, happy, happy sigh!!!

    The almost end, might just make you say, "What in the world Mary!" But then the end, perfection. At least for me. I loved it! I actually was highlighting like crazy throughout my reading. I might skim through those and share a few with you...as long as they're not spoiler-ish. Hee Hee! If you can't tell already, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book. I know not all readers prefer this genre or style but if you think you might, I suggest you take a chance. Now to go read more by this author!

    Here's a handful of quotes for your enjoyment!!! <33333

    And those are all the quotes I'm going to share...I have plenty more but this review has already gone on epically long. *shrugs shoulders and blushes* Again, grab the book whether you're a Jane Austen fan or not, a Katherine Reay fan or not. I loved it, I know not everyone else will, but hey I can dream and hope to share something that I loved with others by encouraging you to give it a chance.

    Content: Clean and witty and emotional and sad, but all around great fun!

    I received a copy from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.

    Happy Reading!!!

  • Faye*

    Let me preface this review by saying that I wasn’t a fan of this book. However, it seems that a lot of other people really liked this, so as for any other review this is clearly

    . If you’re interested in reading this, I suggest you check out other reviews as well and make up your own mind.

    Mary Davies is an industrial engineer living in Texas. Together with her estranged best friend Isabel, she travels to Bath to experience an authentic Regency vacation, an “Austen Escape”. How

    Let me preface this review by saying that I wasn’t a fan of this book. However, it seems that a lot of other people really liked this, so as for any other review this is clearly

    . If you’re interested in reading this, I suggest you check out other reviews as well and make up your own mind.

    Mary Davies is an industrial engineer living in Texas. Together with her estranged best friend Isabel, she travels to Bath to experience an authentic Regency vacation, an “Austen Escape”. However, once there Isabel loses her memory and believes she actually lives in Jane Austen’s Bath.

    When I read the premise of “The Austen Escape”, I was immediately drawn to this book. I am a fan of Jane Austen’s work and this seemed like a fun and light-hearted read. Unfortunately, I was not as convinced by it as I would have hoped and expected to be. I believe that this story would have worked much better for me as a film adaptation. The story was not only predictable, it also lacked a certain depth, which would have been far more forgivable in a movie.

    Personally, I felt the writing was very clumsy. The beginning felt very confusing and rushed. I couldn’t really get into it because I felt there were just too many names and I didn’t feel like it was set up well. There was nothing that made me care about the characters.

    Throughout the book, the author kept describing and repeating certain parts that felt completely unnecessary to the story. To me, this felt very info-dumpy without being real information, as if the author just wanted to hit a certain word count. At the same time, I felt that other parts were not fleshed out enough and the story and characters lacked a certain depth.

    Basically, I was constantly aware that I was reading a novel, there was just too much telling and not enough showing. Also,

    eyes were constantly either widened or widening. Seriously, is this the new “she released a breath she didn’t know she was holding”?

    Mary promised to be an interesting character: an industrial engineer with a love for Jane Austen. Translation: A multi-dimensional female protagonist, who kicks butt in a “boy’s career” but is still into supposedly “feminine” stuff like reading Austen? Yes, please! Unfortunately, as intelligent and geeky as Mary was, she basically kept being admonished by Isabel and then apologising for being smart. On the other hand, she was also unbelievably stupid sometimes. The

    worst example to me is how nervous she was about the maid knowing that they tried on the dresses that were prepared for them. I mean, that’s what they’re there for?! It really didn’t make any sense AT ALL. And she comes back to this point several times, I just didn’t understand her, and it made her seem ridiculous.

    Isabel, on the other hand, just seemed like a horrible person and although I did empathise with her for what she went through with her own family, it doesn’t justify the way she treats Mary, who was more like an adopted sister than a friend. And whenever they were close to actually facing their issues, Mary would ignore or brush the conversation aside and just forgive Isabel as if nothing had happened. (They do have a short conversation at the end, where Isabel sees that she was wrong but on the whole, I felt no real confrontation took place. Everything was resolved within 3 lines.)

    The love interest, Nathan, on the other hand did seem like a nice guy. A cardboard cut-out of the perfect nice guy (seriously, no flaws), but at least he was likeable.

    Okay, again: I really liked the idea of the plot. Austen escapism vacation, memory loss by the best friend who then believes she is actually living in Austen’s Bath. This sounded fun. Unfortunately, it was just rather boring. First of all, the whole England experience wasn’t as great as I had imagined it to be. The other characters fell just short of being interesting, and the whole “Austen vacation” was done very inconsistently. The characters would keep falling in and out of their roles as their Austen characters, which kind of defies the whole purpose of an “escapism vacation”. If you pay that amount of money (and it was mentioned several times how expensive this whole trip was), why not go with it fully? It seemed to defy the purpose of the whole vacation.

    Secondly, there really wasn’t any logic to the whole “memory loss” incident. Isabel didn’t hit her head, fall from a horse, or live an especially traumatic experience. Nothing really serious happened to her to bring this mental episode on. Yes, the author tries to explain the whole experience by a previously similar period but was there really logic behind it? It didn’t feel like it. Especially, when they a) did not bring her to a doctor (apparently, doing daily phone check-ins with a doctor who knew Isabel 10 years ago was enough), and b) she was back to being normal after her 3 day deadline like a clockwork. The whole mental health aspect was almost completely brushed aside, only mentioned in passing.

    And finally, all in all, the whole story seemed created from a mold:

    part 1: introduce characters ✓

    part 2: send them on adventure ✓

    part 3: create conflict ✓

    part 4: hero to the rescue ✓

    part 5: separate the lovers ✓

    part 6: tie everything up in a neat little bow ✓

    I do have to say, though, that I did like the ending better than the rest of the book. Mary stands up for herself, she becomes more eloquent, and the conflict focuses on real issues.

    Again, this just wasn’t my book. I have many other things not mentioned above that I wasn't happy with but I didn’t hate it; and I can see how this could work a lot better as a movie but in book form it just wasn't my cup of tea.

  • Carolyn

    There sure have been a lot of Austen-related in the last few years - books updating the Austen stories in a new setting and books immersing modern people into an Austenesque world (and Katherine Rey has written some of them). In some ways this does both by taking paying house guests into a regency setting, asking them to choose which they character they would most like to be from an Austen novel and then allowing them insights into Austen's novels through thinking and being in her world.

    The main

    There sure have been a lot of Austen-related in the last few years - books updating the Austen stories in a new setting and books immersing modern people into an Austenesque world (and Katherine Rey has written some of them). In some ways this does both by taking paying house guests into a regency setting, asking them to choose which they character they would most like to be from an Austen novel and then allowing them insights into Austen's novels through thinking and being in her world.

    The main character, Mary Davies, is a reluctant participant, dragged along by her (so-called) best friend Isabel, a doctoral student writing her thesis on Austen. She lives in Austin in Texas and works as an engineer for an innovative technology company but has been having problems with her latest invention and fears losing her job. However, she soon falls in love with the charm of Braithwaite House, the regency mansion near Bath where they will spend the next two weeks and and decides to enjoy herself. That is until she becomes worried about Isabel who appears to be too strangely immersed in her character. Mary and Isabel grew up together as children but something has not been right between them lately and their experiences at Braithwaite House will reveal a lot that wasn't clear before.

    As someone who has read all Austen's novels, I enjoyed all the guests and the characters they chose to play and the inclusion of many scenes and lines from the novels that were sprinkled throughout the book. There is even an Austen style romance featuring a 'military man'. Definitely one for Austen fans!

  • Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)

    TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Austen-Inspired Original

    SETTING: Modern-day Austin, Texas and Bath, England

    MAIN CHARACTERS:

    - Mary Davies: an industrial engineer for WATT who is introverted, processes things internally, is pragmatic, and thinks with a mathematical mind.

    - Nathan Hillam: an intelligent consultant hired by WATT that has worked close with Mary this past year. Doesn’t know Mary is in love wit

    TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Austen-Inspired Original

    SETTING: Modern-day Austin, Texas and Bath, England

    MAIN CHARACTERS:

    - Mary Davies: an industrial engineer for WATT who is introverted, processes things internally, is pragmatic, and thinks with a mathematical mind.

    - Nathan Hillam: an intelligent consultant hired by WATT that has worked close with Mary this past year. Doesn’t know Mary is in love with him.

    - Isabel Dwyer: Mary’s childhood friend who is completing her dissertation on Jane Austen by going on a two week “costumed Austen-style adventure” in Bath, England. Isabel has a terrible father, whose negligent behavior and indifference has left some scars.

    SYNOPSIS:

    Mary is coerced by Isabel and her father (who thinks of Isabel as a second daughter) to join Isabel on her Austen-style adventure in Bath. Even though Mary isn’t an ardent Austen fan herself, she goes because she knows Isabel needs her support. Also, Mary could use an “escape” from her work troubles and her new boss. She has a sneaking suspicion that her days with WATT are numbered… But what happens when Isabel “escapes” firmly into the the Regency period and doesn’t remember her present day life? And what will Mary do when discovers a secret about Isabel that devastates her? Can their friendship survive the past, the secrets, and the changing dynamics?

    WHAT I LOVED:

    - Some Austen Fun: The two immediate draws for me were that this book was by Katherine Reay (an author I’ve read and thoroughly and enjoyed before) and the connections to Jane Austen (I have a tiny fondness for stories about Jane Austen’s characters and novels ;)). And while the costumes, daily activities, and assumed identities harkened back a little to Shannon Hale’s Austenland, this tale is a little more serious as both Mary and Isabel deal their own issues and learn more about themselves and each other. I loved seeing how Ms. Reay would allude to Jane Austen’s characters, and the clever way some scenes would echo scenes in Jane Austen’s books. Seeing beloved characters like Mrs. Jennings, Admiral Croft, Catherine Moreland, and Mr. Bingley in Katherine Reay’s creations was lovely. And those moments where a character found a perfect Austen quote for the occasion always made me smile. 😉

    - Hard Issues: One of things I appreciate most about Ms. Reay’s writing is that she isn’t afraid to tackle difficult issues and sad realities. Whether it is growing up in the foster system, watching a love one battle cancer, or having an emotionally abusive and negligent parent. Her stories tell of these hard times and personal struggles in a beautifully sympathetic, sensitive, yet honest way. However, these are not stories that will leave you feeling raw and wretched, they uplift and inspire.

    - Important Messages: While on this trip, Mary does a lot of reflecting on her life, her work, and her relationships. She is struggling to figure it all out and stop the cycle of “letting things happen to her” and running away/retreating. I really enjoyed how this story showed that relationships aren’t set in stone and it takes courage to go after what you want. Mary’s actions at the end were truly inspiring!

    - Nathan: Nathan Hillam wonderfully embodies a modern-day Jane Austen hero! He notices and falls for the quiet girl like Captain Wentworth, is adorably charming like Henry Tilney, solves problems intelligently like Mr. Darcy, and hesitates to declare his love like Mr. Knightley. I absolutely adored the man! I love all that he did in this story – his tender attentions to Mary, his steadfast support, and above all, how he knew and understood Jane Austen! 😉

    WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:

    - A Little More: I loved all aspects of this story especially the pivotal moment where characters evolve and relationships change. However, I did feel that some of this could have been drawn out a little more. With regards to Isabel’s relationship with Mary and Isabel’s emotional well-being, I wish we saw more. In addition, I wouldn’t have minded a more private/lengthy discussion between Mary and Nathan.

    CONCLUSION:

    The Austen Escape is a delightfully immersive and insightful adventure that will be sure to enchant and entertain readers who are inspired by genuine heroines, have a fondness for adorable and compassionate heroes, and yearn for the chance to escape into Jane Austen’s world on a daily basis! 😉

  • Suzanne Leopold

    Mary Davies is single and spends most of her time working as an electrical engineer. She has always put her career first and her love life has suffered. Her latest project has been shelved by her new boss and she finds herself questioning her life choices. While Mary is evaluating her situation, she receives a timely call from her childhood friend. Isabel asks her to join her for two weeks in England where she will be completing her dissertation on Jane Austen. With her life in disarray Mary dec

    Mary Davies is single and spends most of her time working as an electrical engineer. She has always put her career first and her love life has suffered. Her latest project has been shelved by her new boss and she finds herself questioning her life choices. While Mary is evaluating her situation, she receives a timely call from her childhood friend. Isabel asks her to join her for two weeks in England where she will be completing her dissertation on Jane Austen. With her life in disarray Mary decides a change of scenery would be agreeable.

    Mary and Isabel are required to dress in period appropriate attire while maintaining their roles at the Austen retreat. During their stay, Isabel gets unsettling news from her father and suffers a mini breakdown. This all happens while they are in the Jane Austen environment, leaving her stuck in character. Mary has experience with Isabel’s breakdowns from their childhood and is able to provide support. Some secrets are revealed during her care and Mary is forced to reevaluate her future.

    This book is a story about a long standing friendship with themes from various Jane Austen books running throughout it. There is a nice mix of romance, historical fiction, and life's daily challenges. This is the sixth book written by Katherine Reay.

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