A review of Jane Goes Batty from the desk of Shelley DeWees …
Jane Austen as a protagonist might be one of the most likeable characters in literature. She’s thoughtful, friendly, and devoted to her art, all of which are qualities you’d probably expect in the real Jane (were you lucky enough to know her). She’s full of admirable characteristics, yes…accept that one little tiny baby hiccup of a problem…
She wants to suck your blood.
Now, she may not want to kill you unless you piss her off, or happen to be the annoying mother of a guy she’s considering a future with. She may only want to taste you because, well, she must. She’s got that little problem. Not many people know about it, and those her do are among her most trusted confidantes: a lovely friend called Lucy who runs her bookshop in upstate New York and her best buddy Lord Byron, who happens to be a vampire as well. He provides support, instruction in the ways of vampire art (how to become invisible, how to spot attraction between other people, how to create more undead chums), and is in general a source of inspiration for poor Jane who’s struggling to find meaning in a never-ending life.
The story finds her with a new hit novel, but she knows her old ones are better. She’s getting lots of money from the new book, but not near as much as she’d be getting if she collected royalties on the others. She’s happy with her boyfriend Walter, but can never marry him since he doesn’t know about her little problem. She’s up. She’s down. She’s back. She’s forth. Jane is getting pulled around by all kinds of forces, many of which are entirely out of her control. Such is life, Jane. Such is life.
And such is the way of Jane Goes Batty, the second installment of a trilogy of novels by Michael Thomas Ford. It’s a modern take on the life on Jane Austen, complete with her struggle to find a publisher and her wish to drink as much wine as she wants (as she said, being unmarried allows her to do just that). The book is fun and inspiring in some senses, and probably worth your time if you’re looking for a bit of a romp through an alternate reality or simply trying to re-awaken your internal Janeite. The book flows well and thrives on skillful construction, but seems to be saturated with an overabundance of problems. Poor Jane the Undead has a veritable laundry list of troubles to slog through, not the least of which being an overdue sequel to her bestseller, an intolerable mother-in-law who insists she convert to Judaism, a new editor, an invasive camera crew, and the threat of a visit from another gloomy friend. What’s a girl to do?
Jane Goes Batty is fun but simple, composed by a seasoned author whose interests are as diverse as the subject matter of his books. Michael Thomas Ford spins a fairly interesting tale, and even though it’s nothing to write home about, you certainly won’t hate it! Give it a shot, even if you haven’t read the first portion of the series, and see if you can lose yourself in Jane-love again.
Gentle Readers, this is Shelley de Wees’s fourth review for me and the third for Jane Austen’s World. (She has also reviewed for my other blog, Jane Austen Today.) Shelley also oversees her own blog, The Uprising, which features vegan recipes. Yum. She lives in the northern U.S. I shiver just thinking about the cold.