I’m not one to generally read debut novels unless I hear from a friend that it’s great. However, with all of the great books coming out of Dutton recently, when they reached out to me about this one and I was intrigued by the blurb, I of course said yes.*
This being said, I of course probably should’ve re-read the blurb on the back before I started, but I didn’t and it was a bit of a shocker to all of a sudden be thrown into a plane crash! But if I would’ve re-read the blurb I would’ve remembered that it was set in Boston, and a large part of my excitement reading the book would’ve been lost! Thankfully, it was well written and interesting AND I got to experience the Boston portions as if I had NO idea (because I didn’t) that they were there! Seriously, she spent a half page on Anna’s Taqueria! [Anna’s website] Swoon!
I had no idea who Steven Gaines was and after reading this, I don’t have that much more of an idea. I’d love to say I’ve done more research but I haven’t, but I may try to read Philistines at the Hedgerow later this fall as we’re going to a wedding in the Hamptons and it’s about property there.
All of this being said, my thoughts are not a bad thing, especially as I enjoyed his writing, but an observation of my usual lack of background knowledge going in to a book.
The lovely people at Open Road Media reached out to me with a copy of One of These Things First* as I had previously read In Youth Is Pleasure and I can see the similarities in story, style and experience even though they’re set in different countries and quite a bit apart temporally.
Sometimes you need to be reminded that you don’t know everything and this is one of those instances. It legitimately, is a book telling you not to always believe what you’re mind says, but to take time out and look at it from a different perspective (aka your heart) and to see what else is going on.
This isn’t one of those books I would pick up and buy for myself or even as a gift, but it’s one of those books that everyone would (or really should) read if they stumbled across it. I know if I saw it on a coffee table or in a bathroom (see photo of illustration below), I would flip through it. The publicist for the novel sent over a copy for me to check out* and it was a quick, fun and quirky read. I’m definitely going to have to check out the author’s website to see what other fun things they get up to.
I’m not going to lie. I am very surprised I made it all the way through this one. VERY surprised. If you’ve followed me for a while you’re aware I’m not the biggest fan of self-published works. I took a chance on this one, because the author reached out to me about a review copy*, but I was a bit overwhelmed at the time and asked him to check back in and he did so very politely. So I figured the least I could do would be to give the book a go.
The reason I don’t read self-published novels often is because they usually haven’t been through a full editing process. Some have had some sort of editing, but most haven’t had the full process (developmental, content, line, copy and proofreading). Unfortunately for this novel, if it did go through the full process, I couldn’t tell and that sucks because the story had a lot of potential and I could tell that as I forced myself to keep reading.
This was incredibly entertaining and fascinatingly fun to read, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. I think perhaps I’ve read too many Austen fan-fiction novels that fit into one of two molds: modern retelling or prequel/sequel. There are the occasional paranormal/sci-fi mash-ups but mostly they fit within those first two molds. This novel was completely different.
I knew it would be different because the Brontë’s are such different writers, but I wasn’t aware how different it would be in terms of fan-fiction. I’ve only read a few Brontë fan-fiction works, 50% or more of which made me want better stories or better writing. When I reached out to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for a review copy I didn’t quite know what I was getting into, but I’m definitely glad I requested it!*
At some point over the past two years as I’ve read more and more mental/self health, professional/personal development books something must have struck a chord as I feel a lot calmer and more put-together than I have in a long time. I’ve noticed that a lot of these books suggest things I am already doing or have utilized in the past and it’s nice to receive the affirmation. It’s also nice to occasionally be reminded of the things that I need to continue working on in order to maintain the calmness.
When the publicist reached out to me with a copy* of this book I wasn’t sure I would have the time, or the desire to read it. However, I set the book on my to-be-read/determined shelf and it stayed there on top for a little over a month. And then when I was having a really rough week and didn’t want to start another book I picked it up to see what it had to offer.
I really should’ve read Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility and McCall Smith’s Emma before I read this, but getting my hands on a galley/uncorrected proof copy from Random House* sort of made that a moot point. Perhaps I’ll read the other two soon as I loved this one so much. Needless to say, I’m proud I saved it for as long as I did. I always get a bit nervous when an uncorrected proof has in big bold letters “DO NOT PUBLISH YOUR RESPONSE BEFORE X DATE.”
I mean I get it, but it’s still like you want me to read this book and then keep mum on it. How is that possible!? It’s 1) Jane Austen, 2) ADORABLE and 3) hilariously modern in a way only Jane Austen can be made so. I’ll go ahead and warn you that this response isn’t all sunshine and roses though. I will say I was hesitant of the name-change from the original, but as I read it I was convinced with the okay-ness of it. There is a tangent later that is not a reflection of the book, but of some of the stupid comments I’ve seen recently of The Austen Project adaptations.