Friday, May 18, 2018

First Impressions | Book Review

When it comes to Jane Austen retellings, this is probably one of the best that I’ve read, as in there was enough of Austen to know what was going on and how it was implied, but there were also enough original creativity to where I didn’t think, “Well if I wanted to read Austen, I would have just read Austen.” What Debra did with her characters was very clever and creative and fit so well for a modern “Pride and Prejudice.” If she did quote the book through the character’s modern dialogue, it wasn’t in sync with the original timeline. For example, it was in the beginning of the book that Eddi (Elizabeth) mentioned, “If I marry him, Dad will never speak to me, and if I don’t marry him, Mom will never speak to me.” It flowed into the natural conversation, was a flashback to the original story, yet wasn’t verbatim. I really liked the Austen flair recreated in a smooth fashion.

I found the story as a whole to flow very well and every POV change was perfectly timed—I was ready to see what the next person’s story had when it came.

But I gave this book three stars. Why?

One of the minor things was the characters’ vocations (and this doesn’t affect my rating). Eddi didn’t really seem very lawyer-ry. It mentioned her practice a few times, but it didn’t really feel like that was her life. Just her vocation separate from the story. Same with Jenny (Jane) and her coaching (the only reason I know she was a coach is because of the character cast in the beginning). Or maybe it’s that most typical modern people don’t include their jobs in normal conversation or off-work thoughts?

The two major things that altered my rating are what I usually point out in reviews: spiritual content and romance.

Romance first. Linda’s story (the Lydia of the retelling) was way too PG-13 for me. If it had never shown her POV, I think the story would have been fine. There were a couple of more crude comments and insinuations made by other characters, but Linda is where things really got too much for me. I can see what the author was doing, and the storyline fits well for a retelling, but… I had to skim almost every part with Linda. It goes from mentioning her taking pregnancy control pills to sleeping with men to more detailed scenes where she and a man are obviously in the middle of a sinful situation. I’d rather not go into details in my review (because I *do* try to keep these PG or above), but yeah… this is an adult book. I won’t keep it in my house because my teenage sisters might pick it up, and I definitely do not want them exposed to such content. If it weren’t for Linda’s parts, the other parts of romance really weren’t too over-the-top.

Spiritual content is harder to judge because there were a lot of mentions of God threaded throughout the whole book. But there is a difference between mentions of God, church, and praying, and really LIVING the Christian life. At one point, Eddi makes the comment, “I’m glad God means something to you, because He means a lot to me.” That was the most spiritual she was up to that point (my thoughts were, “If He does mean so much to you, then why haven’t you thought of Him or prayed to Him yet?”). I don’t wish to be harsh here, but it lacked genuine spiritual depth.

I enjoyed this book for the reasons mentioned above and really didn’t like it for reasons mentioned above.

*I received this book from Bethany House and provided my honest review*


Ryana Lynn said...

Good points, Amanda, all the way around. This is something Christian authors should learn from, as a reminder of our responsibility to our readers. Christ should always shine through in our writing!

Melissa Breusch said...

I feel like I might enjoy this retelling and the book covers his simple yet elegant.

Amanda Tero said...

@ Ryana - so true; and very sobering!

@ Melissa - yes, the cover is very unique! :)

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