The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
ISBN: 9780718078096 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780718077945 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781543637472 (audiobook – CD)
ASIN: B06XFKKFLQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.
Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.
With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.
Mary Davies is a project engineer, thanks to the influence of her father, but all is not well at her small tech company. Her current project has been sidelined as too costly with little possible return on the company’s investment. The consultant hired to help the company, Nathan Hillam, seems to appreciate Mary’s work and tries to befriend her, but Mary is too focused on work. Now that she thinks she’s about to be fired and knows that Nathan is leaving, she has regrets that she never tried to take their relationship to the next step. Enter Isobel Dwyer, Mary’s best friend since childhood. Isobel is, for all intents and purposes, Mary’s surrogate sister, since they were truly raised by Mary’s parents. Isobel’s father was an absentee parent and she latched onto the Davies family with both hands. Now she’s an English doctoral student focusing on Jane Austen, Mary’s mother’s favorite author, and her absentee father has financed a trip for Isobel and a friend to Bath, England. Of course, Isobel can only think of taking Mary and it takes some coercing for her to agree, but agree she does. They arrive in England without any problems and hope to enjoy their stay in a refurbished Regency era home while pretending to be Austen characters and wearing Regency clothing. Unfortunately, it appears Isobel has taken pretend a bit literally and she truly becomes her chosen character, Emma, causing quite a bit of concern for Mary. Unsure of how to proceed, Mary turns to her father and finds that Isobel has suffered from this type of “disassociative state” once in their childhood. She’s advised to allow nature to take its course for a few days before seeking medical assistance. Then, Nathan arrives in England and Mary is disconcerted to learn that he not only knows Isobel but dated her. Can things get any worse for Mary and this situation?
I found The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay to be a fast-paced and highly enjoyable read. (FYI, I’ve enjoyed all of her previous stories and The Austen Escape comes in a close second to Dear Mr. Knightley.) Ms. Reay provides believable and realistic characters with contemporary Austen-inspired situations. Yes, there’s romance but that takes a backseat at times to self-discovery and a coming-of-age awareness for both Mary and Isobel. There’s tons of drama (interpersonal and intrapersonal), a few misunderstandings, more drama, hints of romance, more misunderstandings, more drama, romance, and resolution. (Hey, this is a romance so it has to have a Happy-Ever-After!) If you’re a Jane Austen fan or have read anything by Katherine Reay in the past, I encourage you to grab a copy of The Austen Escape to read. If you haven’t read anything by Katherine Reay in the past, then start with The Austen Escape and work your way through her backlist. You can thank me later.
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