Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thoughts: The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

While typing this post, I am simultaneously shoving rocky road ice cream down my throat. Ice cream is the only thing right now that can possibly put me in the right frame of mind to write about this book.

Kate, the protagonist of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual, loses her job and home in the middle of the recession. To make matters worse, Kate is still single at forty (horror of horrors!). Still reeling from the loss of her childhood home, Kate accepts a freelance job where she has to write an article proving that, in today’s time, a rich man is the only must-have accessory. Just like in Jane Austen’s time!

I usually have difficulty saying this about books written by writers who are still alive (what if they somehow unbelievably stumble across this blog, read my post, and decide to hunt me down with a butcher knife?), but I’m going to go right ahead and say it. I thought The Jane Austen Marriage Manual was awful. *Warily looks around.*

Kate is supposed to be a gorgeous forty-year-old woman fully capable of catching a billionaire, but she felt paper-thin to me. There was a lot of backstory about her mother and grandmother’s marriages which made sense in the context of the book, but didn’t really seem necessary. The fact that Kate lost her job and home all in the same month tells us why she’s so eager to get a rich husband. We don’t need to find out how her mother and grandmother depended on men financially.

All the things that happened to Kate felt forced. For example, Kate meets this guy she supposedly has an amazing connection with. I’m a romantic, I could believe in that kind of chemistry. I just didn’t find it between the two characters. The book went on and on about how Kate and Griff were building this so-called connection, and the effect he had on her. I couldn’t see it, because, cliché as this may sound, the book was telling me, not showing me.

Seriously, I don’t want to read about how his touch made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. I wanted to see it in my head. Where did he touch her? Did he have calluses on his hands or were they baby-smooth? I wanted details, mostly because I like seeing things unfold in my mind like a movie and partly because I have a dirty mind.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you probably know that I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. Mansfield Park is the only novel of hers that I haven’t read and reread yet, so I’m a little worried about finally running out of things to read by one of my favorite writers. Like, ever. That’s probably why I’ve been reading Austen-inspired novels.

I really should have learned my lesson from Alexandra Potter’s Me and Mr. Darcy. The book tried to make me believe that a modern man with a paunch can possibly surpass Mr. Darcy.


Like that’s really possible.

Don’t get me wrong, and start thinking that I hate The Jane Austen Marriage Manual because I’m a snob and only like classics, and blah, blah, blah. I love chick lit. Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella, and Jill Mansell write great books that are fun, and their heroines don’t make me want to bang my head on a desk for the sake of womankind.

Alas, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual did not transport me to fabulous places like New York or Palm Beach. It merely made me want to do violent things like step on the grass in the park, right in front of the ‘Do not step on the grass’ sign. Badass things like that.


Trisha said...

There is so much I could say, but right now all that's going through my head is I too have a dirty mind. :)

Andi said...

Can't handle books like this. Cannot handle it.

Christa @ Hooked on Books said...

Ugh this does sound awful! It always makes me really disappointed when women are portrayed this way and it makes the rest of the chick lit genre look bad by association.


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