“It’s just my piece of the Austen pie,” Melodie said. “Everyone’s in on it now. You’ve seen the books. Austen is all the rage. You put her name on anything and it will sell. Hell, my publisher is coming out with a Jane Austen massage book in the spring. You know what it’s called? Sense and Sensuality.” She laughed. “I bet it sells two million copies.”
“We can only hope,” Jane remarked dryly. If she’d disliked Melodie Gladstone before, she now loathed her. The woman was vile, an opportunist who was using her name to make her fortune. Meanwhile, I haven’t seen a royalty check in almost two hundred years, she thought.
(from Jane Bites Back, page 9)
Just when I thought I couldn’t stomach another vampire story or another paranormal take on Jane Austen, I dusted off the copy of Jane Bites Back that has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it with my Christmas money earlier this year. I’m glad I gave it a try because Michael Thomas Ford’s novel is a hilarious take on the Jane Austen sequel and spin-off phenomenon.
Jane Fairfax owns Flyleaf Books in a college town in Upstate New York. Among the store’s top sellers are all things Jane Austen, and while one would expect her to be happy about the sales, Jane Fairfax is actually Jane Austen — and she’s a bit sick of the sequels and spin-offs and the lack of royalty checks. For the most part, she lives a quiet life, enjoying the company of her employee and confidante, Lucy, and brushing off Walter, a home restoration contractor who has the hots for her.
No one knows her secret identity, but her secret becomes harder than ever to keep when the man who turned her into a vampire returns and the novel she wrote before her “un-death” is accepted for publication after 116 rejections. Chaos ensues and endangers those Jane holds dear.
Jane Bites Back paints the picture of a Jane Austen who is strong, witty, and still a bit old fashioned. It’s a clever novel, and Ford writes in a voice that is both humorous and sarcastic. There are plenty of literary references between the book store and the publicity tour for Jane’s new book, and watching Ford’s Jane Austen evolve from a reserved bookstore owner to a feisty author defending her manuscript was a treat. I especially liked that Ford’s vampires aren’t afraid to feed on humans, which makes for some entertaining scenes when Jane suddenly gets the painful urge to eat…er…drink.
Jane Bites Back is a quick, light read, and I recommend it for Austen fans who aren’t averse to novels that portray the beloved author in a supernatural light. Ford made me laugh numerous times throughout the book, and I’m hoping for more of the same when Jane Goes Batty is released in early 2011.
Disclosure: Jane Bites Back is from my personal library.
© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.