Dear Jane Austen is written as a collection of letters written by “heroines-in-training,” as Jane Austen refers to them, and answered by none other than our favorite writer of famous heroines. Jane Austen herself is at her desk with pen in hand, writing to women from the 21st century who are asking for advice on love and all aspects thereof.
It is obvious that the author, Patrice Hannon, is an expert on all things Jane Austen. The book truly reads as if Austen herself had written it. An abundance of quotes thrown in from Austen’s books coincide with the words of wisdom Jane has for each letter-writer, which helps lend to the authenticity of the book. Jane gives examples on what to do and what not to do in the name of love, using her many works of fiction, and it all reads as genuine and real as if the true Jane Austen penned it.
Jane shows her disgust and disappointment over many issues that have changed for women between the past two centuries, including pre-marital sex:
"JANE AUSTEN SAYS: A HEROINE SEEKING MARRIAGE DOES NOT LIVE WITH A HERO UNTIL HE IS HER HUSBAND.”
Admonitions and words of advice such as this are place strategically throughout the novel. Jane will explain her stance on a particular topic, usually based on one of her books, and then end it with her sayings in bold face.
Letters to Jane read exactly as they would from a 21st-century young woman:
He has told me he is in love with me and I think I'm in love too. I think he's it. Tell me, Jane, how soon is too soon for love and sex?I couldn't help but chuckle through these various letters and replies, each chapter focusing on one theme at a time (A Heroine's Guide to S-X - a short chapter; A Heroine and her Family; Should a Heroine Care for Money?).
- Sex-starved and Hungry"
Jane also takes her various characters made famous in her novels and uses them as examples for 21st-century heroines to follow. Elizabeth and Lydia Bennett, Julia Bertram, Emma Woodhouse and many more are mentioned in Jane’s replies as she tries to give advice to these modern-day women, most of whom she feels needs a lot of help in the way of being a woman.
Austen serves as the narrator, and in-between her letter writing, she refers to her various family members, bringing even more genuineness to the book. She mentions mostly her sisters and brothers, as well as nieces. There is also mention of her love, Tom Lefroy. Jane refers to herself as elderly, so one will understand that she is writing these letters at the end of her life, or near to it.
While this is a short book (only 156 pages), it is not light reading. The language is definitely that of late-1800's England, and the true Jane Austen fan will surely love it; for those who are true fans of literature, this is a must-read as well. Kudos goes to Patrice Hannon for an excellent piece. She truly brings the spirit of Jane Austen to the pages of this book.