Mary Davies is a brilliant engineer in a bit of a conundrum — a new boss at her company doesn’t seem to care for Mary; the handsome consultant, Nathan, Mary has had a crush on doesn’t seem to even notice her more than on a friendly level; and her best friend Isabel, whom she’s not so close with, has invited Mary to a two-week Jane Austen immersion experience in Bath, England, and Mary would rather pluck each and every hair from her body than go.
After being talked into the trip by her father as a just-in-the-knick-of-time getaway, Mary leaves the stress of work behind and jets off to Austenian England with Isabel, who comes off as manipulative, self-centered, rude and pouty. But as we delve into their stories and each of their difficult childhoods, we learn the reasoning behind Isabel’s behavior — a past full of abuse and neglect.
Shortly after arrival, Isabel loses most of her memory and behaves as if she truly is living in Regency Era Bath. As Mary struggles to help Isabel regain her memories and her true self, she learns important lessons about herself and her friend. And when a man with unexpected ties to both women arrives in England, Mary must learn to trust and have faith in what life has to offer — both personally and professionally.
“The Austen Escape” is a gentle romance that feels as if it stepped right off the pages of Jane Austen’s novels. Reay does a lovely job of developing some great and enjoyable characters, including staff member Gertrude who has a deeper past with the house than expected, and fellow houseguests — an adorable couple in their 80s and a fun couple with their charming daughter.
One theme that is prevalent throughout the book is striving to be our best selves in everything we do, and do be true to ourselves, which is always a good lesson to be learned.
Although published by Thomas Nelson, this story only contains very brief references to God, therefore containing very little religious themes or content. It also does feature some alcohol use. Otherwise, Reay’s latest novel is a very clean and enjoyable read.
Fans of Shannon Hale’s adult novels, which are also Austen-themed, will enjoy “The Austen Escape.”
Five stars out of five.
Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.