I keep saying that I’m not going to read anymore Jane Austen fan fiction, but I’m finding giving up this type of fiction to be more difficult than giving up chocolate would be.*
The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo tempted me by using Jane Austen’s name in the title, a very pretty pink cover featuring silhouette cameos of the heroine and hero and just like Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything except temptation. And chocolate.
This novel takes the premise that Jane Austen was the best armchair expert of marriage ever, and that by following her advice, a woman in her forties in our times could land herself a wealthy husband in times of economic difficulty. Fittingly, the heroine of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual is Kate, a journalist from New York who finds herself at the age of forty out of work, homeless and single. A writing assignment for Haute magazine leads Kate to hunt down rich men for research, although Kate also intends to find a rich man and marry him to secure her future.
Luckily Kate is tall and thin and beautiful and sexy and could pass for 32 even though she is 40 and is clever and gets flown all over the world to glamorous locations including Florida for the polo, St Moritz for the skiing and London (just because) while working on this assignment. Did I mention that Kate also has a Chanel dress which is suitable for almost every occasion that she finds herself in the company of rich men? Also, Kate has a title. Admittedly her friends bought the title for Kate as a joke, but being known as Lady Kate certainly came in handy while she was on the hunt for a husband.
Anyways, Kate meets rich men and poor men, older men and younger men, stupid men and clever men, sexy men and frightening men, the wrong men and eventually, the right man. Was he rich or poor? I can’t say, because that is giving too much away. Years ago a friend told me she tried something similar to this, by hanging around Toorak (an affluent suburb of Melbourne) with the intention of snagging herself a rich boyfriend. My friend’s plan wasn’t successful, but she eventually met a poor hippie somewhere else and fell in love. They have been happily married for about 25 years now.
Kate’s character was more of a Lydia than a Lizzie or a Jane and in my opinion, she finished up with a better fellow than she deserved. However, the author gets to decide how the story works out, and this was her choice.
The Jane Austen Marriage Manual is a light and cheerful read, but if you want a really good read, then read something Jane Austen wrote.
*I’m NEVER giving up chocolate.