Rummanah Aasi
  This following post is brought to you by my very good friend, Julie Morra. I had asked Julie to guest blog for me while I catch up on some of my reading and reviews. Thanks, Julie!

    The snow is gone, my allergies are ratcheting up with the pollen count, and my internal compass is telling me to start stocking up on titles to read over the summer. Summer reading falls into a few categories. First there are the school-assigned summer reads that usually come with essays to write and questions to answer. That process always seems to take away from the joy of recreational reading. I promise you my football scholarshipped son who really enjoys a good book would not have picked The Secret Life of Bees on his own and he did not enjoy it no matter how much Oprah extolled its virtues. I think book club reads too often fall into this assigned division. The second category of books, in my mind, are those completely consuming reads that block out real life until you finish. You are oblivious to the weather, the national news, and people who love you have to remind you to eat. The Twilight series comes quickly to mind when I think of this category. The final category of books are the light and fluffy fun reads that live in your pool bag or under the seat of your car. My mother would probably classify them as a step up from magazine reading. You put them down as easily as you pick them up, but you entirely enjoy the time you spend inside them. They are the books you read when you don’t want to think, but just want to feel good while lying in the sun or waiting in the car to pick up your little brother from Tae Kwando. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman falls into this last category.

 Description: (From the front cover flap) Julie’s best friend, Ashleigh, is an enthusiast. Julie never knows what obsession will catch Ashleigh’s fancy, but she does know she’s likely to be drawn into the madness. Ashleigh’s latest craze is Julie’s own passion, Pride and Prejudice. But Ashleigh can’t just appreciate it as a great read; she insists on emulating the novel’s nineteenth-century heroines in speech, dress, and most important of all – their quest for True Love. So Julie finds herself with Ashley, dressed in vintage frocks, sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys prep school, where they discover some likely candidates. Maybe this obsession of Ashleigh’s isn’t so bad if it leads to love—but for whom?

Review: I initially picked up this book because Jane Austen was referenced in the cover flap. I carried it around the library because the main character and I shared a first name. I took it home because it was under 200 pages. I slathered myself up with sunscreen, parked myself in a deck chair, and turned to the first chapter. There is a glut of books out there that pay homage to Jane Austen. The field is vastly narrowed if you ask that the author produce a book which is a good book on its own merits. For its brief length, Enthusiasm holds its own. Anyone who's ever had a friend like Ashleigh will feel Julie's pain. Is friendship and loyalty worth the price of embarrassment? Ashleigh’s enthusiasm is infectious and some of us need a friend like Ashleigh to make our lives more exciting, despite the embarrassment. The characters prove themselves relatable. The action is fun and there is a poem near the end that actually gave me goosebumps. That's when the story, for me, went from three stars to four. There are numerous Jane Austen references, especially from Pride & Prejudice, but to me, the story itself felt a little more like Mansfield Park or Emma where everyone's attentions and intentions are all mixed up. A working knowledge of at least one of those books, even from *gasp* a movie version, will make the book a more enjoyable read.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Enthusiasm does fall into the teen romance genre so I would recommend it for ages 13 and up.

If you liked this book, you might also try: Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley.
1 Response
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent review Julie. You have a way of expressing yourself that I enjoy reading. I agree this is a fun read and I loved all the Austen references.

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