Ellen and Mimi Dodge have never been close, but their mother's dying wish sends them on a walking tour of Hampshire, England, that follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen. Their mother also left them something else: a diary that belonged to Jane's sister Cassandra. These pages shed light on the secrets that nearly tore the Austen sisters apart and inspired one of the greatest love stories of all time. They also bring Jane to life in a way that no one has ever seen before: through the eyes of her sister. As the Dodge sisters embark on their walking tour, they too are drawn together in ways they never expected. They also discover that Cassandra's diary holds secrets, and someone doesn't want Ellen and Mimi to discover the truth. As they stumble on their way toward love, the women learn how Jane and Cassandra Austen inspired the original Marianne and Elinor Dashwood and come to realize that despite their very different personalities, they are a vital part of each other's happy endings.
This was my first Austen inspired book so I had high expectations...but my thoughts are a bit mixed. Of course, it's fun to relive a beloved story; yet, the retelling is a bit too similar to the original for me.
Obviously, set in the modern era gives it a new edge but I knew exactly what was going to happen the entire time I was reading - no fun! Ellen = Elinor, Mimi = Marianne, Colonel Tom = Colonel Brandon, Ethan = Willoughby, Daniel = Edward...and this is not at all a spoiler because the author blatantly models the modern characters after the originals - is this what all Austen-inspired books are like? Also, Austen's masterful romantic tension is absent in this novel...the relationships just didn't have as much oomph.
If you don't mind basically rereading a contemporary Sense and Sensibility with a few tweaks, then I'm sure you'll really enjoy this novel. However, if you want the author to take a bit more creative license with the original story, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed with the book.
So, is this what all Austen-ish novels are like? Am I not cut out for Austen adaptations? Just curious...