Katherine Reay is one of my favorite authors! I’m excited to share this book of hers with you.
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About the Book, The Austen Escape
Title: The Austen Escape
Author: Katherine Reay
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Print Length: 320 pages
Summary from the publisher: Falling into the past will change their futures forever.
Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.
But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.
Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.
Reay’s writing is always a delight. Her characters are fully imagined, her plots and dialogues are tight, and her settings are perfect. This book in particular was fascinating. Being limited to the perspective of the main character, there were many mysteries about the ways other characters were thinking and acting. These were brilliantly executed and made the book so much fun to read!
My one complaint about this book is the lack of spirituality. Reay’s books are sold as Christian fiction from publisher Thomas Nelson, but after reading all five of them, I never know what to expect. The first two had a very subtle spirituality that was actually quite powerful in its subtlety. Then the third one was written as though in a Godless universe. The fourth one was the most spiritual in nature and was again very powerful Then this one was again completely secular. I don’t mind secular books when I know that’s what I’m picking up, but when I pick up a book that is supposed to be Christian fiction, and then the characters are written so beautifully flawed, I begin to get excited about them meeting Jesus and experiencing the transformation that His love and forgiveness brings. And then I’m really disappointed when it doesn’t happen, but it’s not the fault of the writing. It’s the expectations.
I will continue reading any fiction Katherine Reay writes because I love her writing style. But I think I’ve finally learned to go in without expectations of strong (or any) Christian content. Then if it’s there, I can be pleasantly surprised. This was a really great book, and I highly recommend it. Just go into it with the right expectations, and I think you’ll love it!
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley.
About the Author
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries — who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. Katherine’s first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley (my favorite!!!), was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist and winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut as well as Carol Awards for both Best Debut and Best Contemporary. She is also the writer behind Lizzy & Jane and the The Bronte Plot – all contemporary stories with a bit of “classics” flair. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, former marketer, avid chocolate consumer and, randomly, a tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago.