Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay | A Book Review

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

I got this book from Netgalley. Just by the title alone, my attention was already captured. Like all readers, I too am curious and enamored by Jane Austen's works. Who wouldn't, right? I haven't read a lot of Miss Austen's books. So far, I've only read Pride and Prejudice. I have to read more of her books, especially after reading this book. It got me curious about the other characters in her books mentioned here. I would try to include her books in my TBR this year. 

Have you seen the movie of Keri Russel, Austenland? This book is a lot like the movie. The characters here traveled to Bath, England to immerse in all things Austen. Wear costumes, play a character of Austen's in her novels, and get to live in a mansion which is like a set in the time of Austen's stories. This is a different kind of vacation. A getaway from the daily stress and grind and live in Austen's world and characters for a week or so and forget about modern day troubles. 

The main character in this book is Mary Davies. She's a very talented and creative industrial engineer. She works in a company she loves and she loves her job even more. She also enjoys working with the adorable, hilarious, and intelligent consultant at their office, who also seemed to be taken with Mary. Everything seems to be working out with Mary until her pet and most beloved project failed. The costs and the failure of that project is threatening Mary to lose her job. One other thorn in her side is her childhood best friend, Isabel, who had invited her to go on a two-week vacation to Bath, England. This vacation may be what Mary needs in order to relieve some stress at work and probably put some things into perspective.

I really enjoyed the story. Mary Davies is one very lovable character. I think I can relate to Mary in many ways. She's a nerd but a very impressive nerd with her talent in creating gizmos and gadgets. I also love her special talent of creating animals and stuff from electrical wires. She is a modern inventor and she loves what she's doing. Mary reminded me of my frustration of wanting to be an engineer. Deep within, I always wanted to be one. A computer engineer. I am tech-savvy and how I ended up in Accounting is a story which I might have told in one of my posts here. Maybe, in my next life, I could be that or I can still be one. It's never too late for anything, right? Anyway, I love Accounting too. Thinking back, I also couldn't think of not having done that. 

The other important character here is Isabel. I honestly hate her just by the descriptions and the stories Mary has related about her. She has not been a good best friend to Mary but she had her moments too. And once you get a picture of Isabel's life, you will feel sorry for her. The same way Mary's Mom and Dad had taken in Isabel like a real daughter, you too will feel like making allowances for Isabel's very unforgivable flaws. In the end, at least, she found her spot and eventually got out from under her father's claws and was able to live a life of freedom. Freedom to be herself and be happy. By end of the story, I still did not love Isabel but I came to understand her character more. She represents a lot of real persons in my life. Some, I am still friends with to this day and some have been a part of my life and have done me some torment of some kind. Hopefully, like Isabel, they too will find happiness so they would stop making other people as miserable as they are.

Nathan, a.k.a TCG. I just love him. He might just be the guy I want to have in real life. He's sensitive, smart, and caring. The thing I love about him the most is the fact that he wasn't sure if Mary even feels the same way about him. In a way, he's clueless and that is so cute for someone who works as a consultant who's supposed to be so intelligent and smart and should be able to notice nuances about people. I guess, not all nuances because he never read Mary's signals clearly and the same goes for Mary too. Good thing, these two were finally able to get everything cleared out. I think they complement each other. 

There are a lot of very memorable parts in the story. I would never forget the part when Clara said, "Sense and Senseless" instead of Sense and Sensibility. That really cracked me up. Also, the part about Mary pointing out that Austen hated Mary's. "She hated all the Mary's the same way she hated Bath." That was a very smart observation and realization which made me more curious to actually read all of Austen's stories with Mary's in them. I can relate to Austen. I too have a name or names I would associate with a mean person. I did meet a few people with the same name and they proved to be different so, they are exemptions to that. 

The story pointed out a lot of truths about relationships and human nature. I had to nod my  head a lot of times in agreement to a lot of the statements. There were also some that hit like cold water on the face. It hurts to accept but they're true. The same way, Mary felt about a lot of realities and realizations that dawned on her brought about by her stay in Bath. 

I love the book and I'm sure I'm going to start looking for books of Katherine Reay. I need to read more of her books, the same way I felt I've missed a lot not having read a lot of Austen. With that said, obviously I'm giving this book 5/5 wire animals. In a lot of ways, I can relate to Mary. I felt I could just be her in this story. There are a lot of similarities especially about work. And I felt the same disappointment and sadness when it dawned on Mary that Austen did not like Mary's and what all the Mary's represent to her. Whether, they'd be the characters in her book which are representations of maybe real persons in Austen's life. Knowing that her namesake may have done Austen some injustice or grave ill, somehow affected Mary the same way as if she shares some blame. I had one co-worker who honestly told me that he didn't like my name. He said my name reminds him of someone or some not so nice experience. I appreciated his honesty. It wasn't that he did not like me but I understand what he meant. He's uncomfortable that I remind him of something he doesn't want to be reminded of. I too don't like my name. If I were given the chance, I would have named myself something else. This story also reminded me of the animated story by Disney- Home on the Range. It's about farm animals, cows to be exact, who had banded together to save their farm "Little Patch of Heaven." I really love one of the songs on the OST- "Will the Sun Ever Shine Again." So, this story reminded me of a lot of different things and it's very honest and real, even if a lot of metaphors and things about Austen are used in here. It is a very relevant story which examines a lot about the different relationships we have. Just as Austen's stories are like a study on human behavior and human nature, this story too tackled that subject. I am so fortunate that I found this book and Miss Reay. Thank you again, Netgalley.

No one wants to be third choice, even if they couldn't care less about being any choice.
- Katherine Reay, The Austen Escape - 

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