Lily is struggling to get over the death of her mother, as
well as recently being fired for reading on the job and
being dumped by her boyfriend. Desperate for an escape, the
bibliophile and Jane Austen fan jumps at the chance to
leave the States behind for a literary festival in England,
where she'll join a cast that is re-enacting Mansfield
Park. (The fact she has no real acting experience is
only a minor drawback.) But when she arrives at Newton
Priors, the English manor house that will be her "stage,"
and meets the real actors, as well as the eccentric folks
behind the scenes, Lily realizes she's in over her head.
Then her job is threatened when the flighty actress no one
figured would show up actually does. With a ghostly Jane
Austen looking on, Lily fumbles her way through a different
culture, meets a mysterious and handsome seminary student,
learns to act and deals with more problems that arise back
home. So much for escaping...
I'm probably just an average Austen fan and have not read
Mansfield Park. Perhaps if I'd read it I would have
appreciated this story more. For me, there were too many
characters, many of whom weren't really likable. Lily is
not a happy person -- although heaven knows she has good
reason not to be -- but that makes it hard to warm up to
her and enjoy being part of her journey. The idea of her
own personal Jane Austen was clever, but I felt like more
could have been done with it. I liked the background of the
lit fest, and some of the scenes were amusing, but overall
I just never engaged with the book. I would be interested
to hear what readers who are more familiar with
Mansfield Park think, though. That may be the reason
for my disconnect.
Lily has squeezed herself into undersized relationships all
her life, hoping one might grow as large as those found in
the Jane Austen novels she loves. But lately her world is
running out of places for her to fit. So when her bookish
friend invites her to spend the summer at a Jane Austen
literary festival in England, she jumps at the chance to
There, among the rich, promising world of Mansfield Park
reenactments, Lily finds people whose longing to live in a
novel equals her own. But real-life problems have a way of
following you wherever you go, and Lily's accompany her to
England. Unless she can change her ways, she could face the
fate of so many of Miss Austen's characters, destined to
repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
My Jane Austen Summer explores how we fall in love, how we
come to know ourselves better, and how it might be possible
to change and be happier in the real world.