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Emma Grant has lost everything she previously valued in life, her marriage and her career in one fell swoop of betrayal and conviction based on association. A Jane Austen scholar, her love for this famous author provokes her to escape America and travel to England to do some research that may or may not yield fruit with which to restore her professional career. Between 1800 and 1804, an empty, unexplained space lies in the prodigious correspondence of Jane Austen.
How will Emma's connection with Mrs. Parrot, a knowledgeable woman living in relative obscurity, guarantee Emma success in her carefully plotted, unorthodox plan? The mysterious Mrs. Parrot tells Emma she must carry out a number of tests to ensure she is worthy of reading Jane Austen's missing letters. While not particularly difficult to complete, the process of doing these tasks becomes very, very complicated by the presence of Adam, an old flame whom Emma rejected over her ex-husband, Edward's loving advances and Barry, a slick, super-handsome male Emma meets. Barry causes just about all women to swoon with lustful, passionate response wherever he appears, and Emma is no exception for sure to his debonair advances as well.
But there's more than meets the eye with every character in this humorous, fascinating and poignant tale! As Emma sets upon the quest to discover the reason for Jane's silence, Emma discovers that every person has secrets that forge a person's character, forcing one to choose honor over shame, true love over devious machinations, and integrity over deception based on self-aggrandisement.
Historical fiction lovers will relish the places Emma visits, the descriptions of churches, bookstores, seaside resort areas and other notable places where Jane Austen lived, visited and wrote her well-known, renowned novels.
Love conquers the heart and mind in many, many ways, but Beth Pattillo has delved wider and deeper in the landscape of past and present history to grace the reader with secretive, dynamic, complicated and fascinating characters who enrich the true meaning of honor and love! The legacy of Jane Austen is alive and well in Emma Grant's journey to a novelist's singular, fascinating process!
Well, done Ms. Pattillo! Keep writing so we may thoroughly enjoy your talent as much as readers will enjoy Jane Austen Ruined My Life!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on December 14, 2008