Book Review: The Austen Escape, by Katherine Reay

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Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Mary Davies is an industrial engineer in Austin, Texas. She’s happy with her job and her life, although she wishes there was a bit more going on with cute, funny consultant Nathan. Then Mary’s childhood friend, Isabel, offers her a trip to England, for a two-week immersive stay in a Regency-style manor house, where everyone will be living as Jane Austen characters. Mary wants distance between her and her beautiful, manipulative, vindictive friend, but finds herself agreeing.

At first, the experience is fun, as Mary meets a group of people all pretending to be her favorite characters, but then Isabel wakes up one morning really thinking she is her chosen character, and with no memory of reality. Mary finds herself dependent on strangers as she waits for Isabel to regain her memory. Then Mary realizes she and Isabel’s lives are more entwined than she thought, and must decide if she’ll let her pain go and move on with her life, or hold it against Isabel forever.

I loved this book! This is my first (but not last) Katherine Reay book, and I loved the voice, the characters, and the setting. An immersive Jane Austen vacation? Yes, please! (I do love Austen.). Mary is such a complex character, given to spur-of-the-moment impulses and jumping to conclusions (That’s my own personal form of exercise, too.) Her friendship with Isabel is fraught with tension bordering on anger, and the relationship is vividly portrayed on the pages of this novel.

Katherine Reay has lived in Texas, England, Ireland, Washington, and now Chicago. The Austen Escape is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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