My Jane Austen Summer: A Season of Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones

Title: My Jane Austen Summer: A Season of Mansfield Park
Author: Cindy Jones
Publisher: William Morrow/Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
paperback, 352 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-200397-3
available @ Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 

Summary: A down on her luck woman goes on an Austen-inspired journey of self-discovery in Jones's middling debut. After Lily Berry loses her mother, gets dumped by her boyfriend, and is fired, she finds in her passion for all things Jane Austen (Jane, indeed, is Lily's imaginary friend) an escape route: she travels to England to participate in a Jane Austen re-enacting festival. Full of enthusiasm—but not acting talent—Lily is not embraced by many of the Janeites, but this doesn't prevent her from meeting a charismatic actor, contending with an impossible roommate, and struggling with dark family secrets, all while trying to find the courage to be the protagonist of her own story. While Jones does a credible job of creating a heroine in transition, Lily's process of self-realization isn't nearly as involving as the subplots, which is quite unfortunate, considering how much time is devoted to sussing out her issues.

I was completely intrigued by the title of this book: My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park. I love Jane Austen and this sounded like the book for me. This isn't your typical Jane Austen inspired fiction though. I have to say it wasn't quite what I expected either. Not that that's a bad thing. The main character in this novel is Lily Berry. She has recently lost her job, boyfriend and her mother. All of these events in her life turn her world upside down. She becomes a bit stalkerish towards her boyfriend. Her friends and family try to convince her to get help for her erratic behavior. Lily keeps up the premise that all is well when she decides to sell everything she owns to go to England for the summer to participate in a festival that reenacts Jane Austen novels. Lily's character was very frustrating in the beginning. She had a lot of issues going on. She acted out a lot and her friends and family urged her to get help. I was in total agreement with them. However I was sympathetic to the reasons behind her reactions. Lily also has a love for all things Jane. Lily feels connected to Jane in a way I think all Jane Austen lovers or Janites can relate. Jane Austen novels have a way of connecting with people of all ages. We all have our own favorite novel by Jane. Our own favorite heroes and heroines from these novels. I don't think the Jane Austen experience is the same for everybody either. She means something different to each of us. Lily views Jane this way. Jane Austen is real to her, actually she's more real to Lily than to most. Jane Austen is a ghost like figure in Lily's life. She's always there approving and disapproving of Lily's actions. She flutters around, sits in corners while making lists. I love the lists. Jane is as much a character as Lily is. In fact I would venture to say Jane is Lily's conscious and she needs one. 
Lily desperately wants her life to be like a novel. So much so that it's not good for her. Her trip to England promises to be a new beginning for her far away from her troubles. Lily leaps from the frying pan into the fire. Her time in England is not what she expected it to be. She is forced to deal with some of the issues she left back home and new ones that pop up. This book's theme seems to be 'you can't run away from your problems'. Although Lily's character kind of bugged me in the beginning, I enjoyed watching her character change and develop over the course of this book. There were no easy fixes and Lily had a lot of things to learn. I liked that this book didn't focus on romance but on the life journey we all take. This was an enjoyable read. This is not your average Austen inspired novel but it's worth reading.
I can't really blame her for wanting to slip away into a novel. I've often thought it would be great to visit Mr. Darcy at Pemberly at times.
Do you have a favorite Jane Austen novel you would want to visit? 

Find out more about Cindy Jones: blog | facebook | website

*I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review purposes only. It in no way influenced my opinion. 


  1. I love the name of this book. I really want to read Jane's book. I love the movie about Jane.


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