Title: Jane in Love
Author: Rachel Givney
Published: February 4th 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Jane Austen time-travels to the future and falls in love. But will she choose happiness in the present, or her career as a writer in the past?
At age twenty-eight, Jane Austen should be seeking a suitable husband, but all she wants to do is write. She is forced to take extreme measures in her quest to find true love – which lands her in the most extraordinary of
Magically, she finds herself in modern-day England, where horseless steel carriages line the streets and people wear very little clothing. She forms a new best friend in fading film star Sofia Wentworth, and a genuine love interest in Sofia’s brother Fred, who has the audacity to be handsome, clever and kind-hearted.
She is also delighted to discover that she is now a famous writer, a published author of six novels and beloved around the globe. But as Jane’s romance with Fred blossoms, her presence in the literary world starts to waver. She must find a way to stop herself disappearing from history before it’s too late.
A modern-day reimagining of the life of one of the world’s most celebrated writers, this wonderfully witty romantic comedy offers a new side to Jane’s story, which sees her having to choose between true love in the present and her career as a writer in the past.
With the claim that Rachel Givney’s Jane in Love is ‘Time Travellers’ Wife meets Persuasion’, I was excited by one of the book comparisons, but not the other! Generally I get very tetchy about time travel books, the whole logistics of it all completely baffles me! However, in this case, the Persuasion reference definitely caught me. Jane in Love is a wholly entertaining novel, light but also whimsical, with great comedic timing. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one!
Jane in Love issues a moral conundrum to one of our most respected female novelists of all time. Imagine if literary enigma Jane Austen had to make the heartbreaking choice between true love and her talent for writing. Rachel Givney’s debut novel presents this idea, with interesting results. When we are first acquainted with Miss Austen in the novel she is a twenty eight year old spinster. Although Jane longs for love and marriage, she is also dedicated to writing. However, a chance opportunity to discover the meaning of true love sends Jane spiraling into the present day world of 2020. In current day time, Jane is sent on journey to find her one true love – the only problem is they live centuries apart. With Jane unexpectedly plunged into modern day English society, she must learn understand her new world and the changes that go with it. Helping Jane through her difficult transition from the eighteenth century to the present day is Sofia, a film star Jane meets on the set of the latest Jane Austen adaptation. The two forge a strong and unexpected bond. Sofia also introduces Jane to her brother Fred, a charming and kind man who doesn’t know that true love is calling for him. As Jane begins to fall for Fred, strange things begin to occur. Suddenly Jane’s literary strength falls and in order to prevent her status in literary history from disappearing altogether she must make a heartbreaking choice.
First time novelist Rachel Givney takes on quite an ambitious project with her debut novel. Reimagined lives of prominent figures can often prove tricky and it can be especially hard to get the finer details right. I feel Givney put her heart and soul into this novel. As a result, we have a strong recreation of Jane Austen and her life both in present day Britain and her life in the eighteenth century. Although I had some reservations about the time travel aspect of this novel, I found Jane in Love to be a delightful read.
Givney does an excellent job of recreating Jane Austen’s world in the regency period. I loved being immersed in this era and Givney has strived in the world building department to provide a solid reimagining of this fascinating point in time. Connected to this historical reconstruction was Givney’s embodiment of her lead, along with key figures such as Mr and Mrs Austen and Jane’s sister Cassandra. I think Givney was mindful of staying true to these well-known fictional characters and Austen’s world.
In the present day, after Jane’s step forward in time to 2020, Givney presents her audience with a full and authentic picture of life in present day society. I liked how Givney captured Jane’s wonderment, surprise and shock in response to the strange changes around her. Jane’s observations of life in 2020 were poignant, detailed and often comical. The friendship that develops between Jane and Sofia, the struggling film star, was a joy to read. Likewise, the developing potential romance between Jane and Sofia’s brother Freddy was heartfelt and meaningful. The major complication of this story is handled very well and the reader feels just as torn as Jane when she must choose between life as a famous writer, or true love. It is a heart wrenching choice and both sides of this fateful decision are presented in a balanced fashion.
In terms of romance, Givney’s approach is gentle and there are some truly touching moments, as well as some stark realisations that the characters must confront. Tying in Sofia’s modern day troubles with Jane’s dilemma was fabulous. I feel each of these issues presented their own level of angst. We all know how history plays out, especially if you are an Austen fan, but it was still a great pleasure to enjoy the possibilities Jane in Love had to offer!
Jane in Love by Rachel Givney was published on February 4th 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Jane in Love, Rachel Givney, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Jane in Love is book #63 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge