Thursday, February 22, 2018

Book Review: "By the Book" by Julia Sonneborn

By the Book Julia Sonneborn
Date Finished: February 8, 2018
Date Published: February 6, 2018
ISBN: 9781501175183
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)
Source: Netgalley

You might enjoy this book if you like: Retellings of Jane Austen novels, books set in the academic world

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past...and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all. 

My Thoughts:
I'm the first on to admit that I am not a Jane Austen fan.  Yes, I've read her books--all of them, and my experience with them has run from being meh to hating them.  Persuasion was on the latter end of the spectrum.  However, I tend to have better luck with retellings of Jane Austen novels (with the exception of the Bridget Jones books, which I also did not enjoy), so I thought, "Heck, why not give this one a try?"

Now, being a romance and a retelling of another novel, this book was predictable...but that's okay.  I wasn't looking for a book full of twists and turns, and I don't believe that Sonneborn set out to write such a book.  And, let's face it, there is a great comfort when you can settle in with a book that will seem a little familiar, but also new and fresh.

I loved this book except for one (unfortunately rather major) thing.  Anne was such a fun character.  Look, I like a woman who doesn't always have all her crap together and sometimes makes not the best choice.  She's definitely not a train wreck--but she's a normal person who has a lot on her plate and is doing the best she can.  I applaud Sonneborn for creating such a believable character, one that I found myself relating to a bit too well.

I also appreciated Anne's relationship with her father.  It was hard, at times, for me to read--but that was because of recent experiences in my own life.  It was this relationship that ultimately brought me to tears when I read it.

But, here was my major problem with this book.  As a story, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But as a romance, I felt robbed.  I never got to experience a relationship rekindle between Anne and Adam.  More effort was put into developing the connection between Anne and the other characters (especially her best friend, who was a scene stealer of the best sort) than with the romantic lead.  The story wrapped up too quickly, too easily, and too unbelievably.

I think with a bit a finesse and a few adjustments, this book could have been a knockout. It was, for the most part, an enjoyable read.  I just wish there had been more care with the ending and that the romance was as developed as other parts of the novel.

I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

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