Stephanie W. (Hudson, OH)
If you have to ask...
At one point in this novel, the protagonist, Lily, turns to a friend and asks, "Am I needy?" He responds that "if you have to ask..." Well this book made me feel like I was that friend, uncomfortable in answering a question that is obvious to everyone else. Lily has plenty of reasons to be needy. She has just lost her mother, her boyfriend and her confidence in her father. She believes that living in a Jane Austen Novel and imagining Jane as her mentor, friend and confidant will help her come to grips with her life. It should have been a fun read, but I just got tired of dealing with her. The book has a plot full of exciting happenings and kept me reading despite my disdain for our heroine. But if you are a Jane Austen fan, I think there are better books for your book club to find.
Kandi D. (Beaverton, OR)
Escape to the English countryside with Jane Austen!
This is a delicious novel for Jane Austen fans who just can’t get enough Jane. Lilly has plenty of reasons to run away from her miserable life in Texas. What better way to escape her troubles than to spend the summer in the English countryside reenacting her beloved Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. As she participates in the literary festival and becomes involved with the other organizers and actors Lilly, with the guidance of her invisible mentor Jane Austen herself, learns that she does have the strength to move forward with her life. I love a story where the protagonist grows as a person and I love Jane Austen. Highly recommended!
Elizabeth P. (Lower Burrell, PA)
Have to be a Jane Austen Fan
Three losses in her life....the loss of her mother, the loss of her job, and the loss of her boyfriend. What else could happen, hopefully something good? And something good did happen....Lily was going to London for the summer to participate in Literature Live. How would she afford it? She wasn't sure, but she had to attend and would think of some creative way to make the money she needed for the plane fare.
When Lily arrived at Newton Priors, she had no place to stay since she wasn't in the elite group so she seized one of the actress's rooms that hadn't shown up....what a mistake that was to have to share the room with Bets. Bets turned out to be one of the stars, unreliable, and also a thief.
Bets's unreliability helped Lily get on the stage for one brief moment, but then Lily was relegated to be the tea-theater host. Lily also found someone to replace her old boyfriend, but there were contingencies and pain attached to him...just like all aspects of her life had always been.
Lily was glad she had "Jane Austen" around to help her solve some of the problems. She did wonder about Jane, though - "Jane Austen had secrets.........And she never told me. I would have told her something that important. I told her everything. Perhaps we weren't as close as I thought. Perhaps the person in my peripheral vision wasn't Jane Austen at all." Page 289
The book was not bad….the ending was memorable, but the book didn't have much action. Lily’s flashbacks and memories of her mother were very touching, and her enthusiasm about Jane Austen was contagious, but I guess you really have to be a true Jane Austen fan to pick up on all the little nuances and the excitement. Rating 3/5.
Darlene C. (Woodstock, il)
"My Cindy Jones"
Although I was somewhat worried I would be lost in this book as I have not read Mansfield Park, I was delighted to find that it didn’t matter. The synopsis of Mansfield Park at the beginning told me what I needed to know – I’m sure those who have read that book will find even more depth to this novel.
The plot follows a young woman, Lily, whose life is a mess. She has become so immersed in Jane Austen’s writings and Jane Austen, the person, that she seems to be living more in fantasy than reality – not a good way to live one’s life. “My Jane Austen” (as Lily refers to her) is always in her peripheral vision, guiding and commenting on Lily’s life. But this is not some supernatural story – it is only Lily’s way of coping. When things hit bottom in her real life in Texas, she escapes ( so she believes) into the world of Newton Priors, an English manor setting filled with literary types and actors who re-create Jane Austen novels for the tourists. For Lily, this seemingly ideal fulfillment of her fantasy of “living in a novel” instead becomes the stage for a slow process of self enlightenment and growth.
One of the main plot devices was both whimsical and ironic. Lily speaks often of how the characters in Jane Austen’s books never learn from their mistakes – you can read them over and over and they continue to do the same things in each reading. This is also true of Lily’s life – she makes the same mistakes over and over – until she actually starts “living in a novel”. Repeating the same scenes, both literary and in real life, all summer help her begin discovering herself.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book although at times I found Lily to be a bit too obtuse about herself. Some of the secondary characters lacked depth but were sufficient to carry the plot line.
This book has many layers and would lead to a wonderful book club discussion. In the novel there are many interpretations of Jane Austen, the person. Book club readers will find lively discussion in their varied interpretations of Lily. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys literature and multi-level novels.
Karen B. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Have enjoyed much of the Austen fan fiction published over the last decade but could not find much to recommend "My Jane Austen Summer." The plot twist at the end was interesting and unexpected. Maybe the book will improve greatly during the editing process. It would need much improvement to get my endorsement. I suggest picking up a copy of "Dancing with Mr. Darcy", an anthology of short stories published this month and selected by the Austen committee instead.
Barbara S. (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
My Jane Austen Summer - A Season in Mansfield Park
Cindy Jones in her novel, My Jane Austen Summer – A Season in Mansfield Park- has written a very creative, but complex story of Lily, a great admirer of Jane Austen. Such an intense admirer, Cindy Jones has made Jane Austen Lily’s best friend referring to her as “My Jane Austen”, Lily’s imaginary friend, and Lily’s favorite book of Jane Austen’s is Mansfield Park. After reading all of Jane Austen’s novels, Lily takes an opportunity to go to England to participate in the presentation of a Literary Festival featuring Jane Austen’s book Mansfield Park.
In Author Insights, Extra and More....at the end of the novel, author Cindy Jones recommends that the reader should read or re-read all of Jane Austen’s six novels. This is potent advice.
My Jane Austen Summer – A Season in Mansfield Park is a compelling book, containing many interesting facts about Jane Austen and her literature.
Joanne V. (Towanda, PA)
I loved all of Jane Austen's books, but.....
I was so disappointed in this book, since I very much looked forward to reading it. I am not sure why, but Lily was extremely annoying and I could have cared less about her and her foray into living "Mansfield Park" and the other characters just equally annoying. I think anyone who loves Jane Austen's novels wouldn't think much of this one.