Book review: The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

13 Apr

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen knew more about marriage than anyone else. (Never mind that she never got married herself…)

It’s in the midst of the recession when Kate, a freelance journalist and self-professed Jane Austen addict, finds herself single, unemployed and soon-to-be homeless (not to mention about to turn 40).

In desperation she accepts a writing assignment to prove a theory that in the toughest economic times a wealthy man is the only must-have accessory. So, with just Jane Austen’s advice for company, she sets off to see if Mr Rich can ever become Mr Right.

Her mission takes her to Palm Beach, St Moritz and London. Where, in keeping company with the elite, she meets billionaires, oil tycoons, and generally men who make Mr Darcy look like an amateur. But will rubbing shoulders with men of good fortune ever actually lead her to love?

As a long time fan of Jane Austen’s work I’m often drawn to books that feature her in some way so when I read about and saw the fab cover for The Jane Austen Marriage Manual, I knew I had to read it! From the start, this novel wasn’t what I was expecting; I don’t know why but I’d assumed an English setting and heroine so it was a surprise to find American Kate from Scarsdale as leading lady.

The book starts with a prologue introducing Kate on her wedding day and then steps back six months to introduce Kate properly. I liked ‘six months earlier’ Kate straight away – her sense of humor comes across with her wry observations on her pregnant colleagues and her commentary made me smile. Kate has strong views on marriage and motherhood; she wants neither and it made a refreshing change to find a character in a book that had decided that marriage and children weren’t for her but was happily supportive of her friends that had married and had children.

The second surprise for me was that the novel tackles some heavy topics from the start;  Kate loses her job, her home and suffers a close family bereavement all within the first 70 pages. As she looks for work, Kate accepts an assignment for a high end magazine to examine the possibility that the women Austen wrote about had the right idea in trying to land a rich husband to provide wealth and security for their futures. I loved the premise for the story; in the modern recession hit world is a rich husband the answer? Kate comes across as a mixture of Bridget Jones, Carrie Bradshaw and occasionally her own favourite heroine, Elizabeth Bennett.  She’s certainly an interesting character and more complex than I’d expected initially. It was interesting to watch the fight between what I saw as the real Kate and the persona of Lady Kate that she creates as part of her act to lure a rich husband.

I loved the little Austen references throughout the novel, for example, Kate’s best friends are called Marianne and Brandon and each chapter starts with an appropriate quote from on of Austen’s classics. This isn’t a modern re-write of an Austen novel and although certain characters and elements of the plot reminded me of Pride and Prejudice I don’t think you need to be an Austen fan or have ever read any of her books to enjoy The Jane Austen Marriage Manual.

As Kate puts her plan into action, I enjoyed reading about exotic locations and the jet set lifestyle and my need to find out what happened to Kate and her quest kept me gripped. Kate’s adventures soon see her meeting a bevy of rich and handsome men and there is definitely more than a little of Mr Darcy in one of the key male characters in the book. Kim Izzo kept me guessing to the very end as to whether Kate would find love or wealth (or both). Her debut is Austen with a kick and I loved the ending and the overall message of the story.  An excellent choice for a grown up chick lit read.

4/5

You can find out more about Kim Izzo and her writing at: http://kimizzo.com/

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual is out now and I’d like to thank publisher, Hodder for sending me a review copy.

 

 

One Response to “Book review: The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo”

  1. rea 13th April 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    I loved this one too great review hun xXx

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