Genre: Contemporary Fiction with a romantic feel, Jane Austen retelling
Setting: Modern day Fairfax, in the San Bernadino foothills in California
***I received an eARC copy of By the Book from the publisher, Gallery Books, via NetGalley***
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Review: A sweet and enjoyable modern remake of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
By the Book by Julia Sonneborn modernizes Jane Austen’s classic tale of lost love, Persuasion, which just happens to be my favorite of Austen’s works. So I went into By the Book with a more critical eye, as I don’t always care for remakes, especially those based on Austen’s books. But, I really did enjoy By the Book and thought it was fun and sweet. Nothing too tremendously earth shattering, but worth a read.
By the Book is set in the small city and college of Fairfax, and our main character is Anne Corey who is an English professor working on a book when her ex-fiance Adam Martinez becomes the president of the college and returns back into her life. You can see where the plot goes from here, and while there was really nothing new explored here, it was still enjoyable!
Anne’s best friend is a fellow English professor named Larry, and Larry gives us most of the comedic scenes in the book. He ends up having an affair with Jack, a married actor with an open marriage who is trying to hit it big in the movie Jane Vampire, a vampire take on Jane Eyre. Some of these scenes were pretty funny, but I admit that it took me almost half the book before I started to find Larry funny and not like he was acting too young for his age.
Anne gets distracted by Richard, the resident writer at Fairfax, and Richard was one of those annoying characters who just seems too perfect to be true. I’m always distrustful of these types of characters! While none of the plotting here will come as any surprise to anyone who has ever read Persuasion, or any romance novel, the nice thing about By the Book is that I genuinely wanted Anne to be happy. I wanted her to find love, and of course I wanted it to be with Adam. The ex-love returning back into one’s life is one of my very favorite tropes out there, and I enjoyed this modern take on Persuasion. I’d definitely recommend it to those who enjoy modern versions of classic tales, and for those looking for a sweet, cute read that doesn’t bog you down with sadness.
Bottom Line: Sweet and romantic. An enjoyable read!