For those of you who have been long time fans of my blog, you know of my love affair with Jane Austen.
I have read her works, even the unfinished novels and her juvenilia. I tried a few of the copycat books but had a hard time getting into those that tried too hard to get her tone.
The Austen rip-off I find I love more than anything are the ones that take a distant aspect of a book or fandom. I would like to believe I am a fan and not a fanatic although I did buy a tea cup and saucer set last year because it looked like one from the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version of Persuasion.
Last year I became enamored with Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford.
What a delicious book.
We find out that Jane Austen is alive (sort of) in upstate New York and running her own bookstore. She has a novel that has been rejected by several publishers and wonders if she had only those six or seven novels (if you include Lady Susan which I do) in her to write.
But then an Austen ripoff artist finds out the truth about the bookshop owner. she doesn’t remember a thing but we do. And so starts our journey with Jane Austen, vampire. It was a jolly good romp and I was eager for the second book.
Last week I finally picked up my copy of Jane Goes Batty that I ordered it through a local book store (Paperback Reader in Kankakee). A second book in a series can suffer because it has to live up to the liveliness of the first, the freshness of the new world we are seeing and characters we grow to love.
The problem is becomes how to enlarge the space you have created without breaking consistency. How do you broaden the worldview of the characters without destroying everything your readers loved about the original world.
So I started reading the book and I had the book finished within a day. I loved just about every moment. We learn new things about vampires - new skills and new members. Jane, Brian and Walter remain true to their characters although new details are added to Jane’s history that I am not sure matches what we already know.
And then there is the addition of Walter’s mother, Miriam. She is a Jewish mother who knows when her child is lying just by looking at him. Oh, and Walter forgot to mention to Jane that she is converting. Luckily, she finds an understanding rabbi who tries to help Jane help herself.
If that isn’t enough, they are making a movie out of her bestselling book in her hometown and a rival writer is working on the screenplay. Then there is the evil new editor trying to get Jane to write a book as great as Valley of the Dolls.
What I love is still there: the sarcasm; the wit; the constant drama. Byron remains a lover of any bit of fun and willingness to hog the spotlight but he also displays how he has managed to stay around so long. Walter is the consummate antique home restorer and good-guy boyfriend.
It makes me hungry for the third book, Jane Vows Vengeance, as we get to know Miriam better. I have a feeling there is a little more to Sherman than meets the eye. And Jane has a lot on her plate as she and Walter finally tie the knot. But I am really curious if she will ever tell Walter the truth.
I will probably read the book at least one more time. I am running the church rummage sale this weekend and I will need something to escape to afterwards.
I am soooo looking forward to it.