Review: The Jane Austen Dating Agency
It's a truth universally acknowledged...
Title: The Jane Austen Dating Agency
Author: Fiona Woodifield
Publication Date: January 2020
[Amazon| BN | IndieBound | Public Library]
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a Jane Austen retelling, pastiche, or continuation story is my cat nip. I’ve read everything from Jane Austen fighting off zombies to mysteries featuring Jane Austen. This is just the tip of the ice berg of the Austen world out there and it is one of the reasons I love how relevant her work continues to be over 200 years after her books were published. (Jane Austen in pop culture is also my jam.)
The premise of The Jane Austen Dating Agency sounded cute: Sophie has terrible luck with men with her last ex was stalking her to the point Sophie changed her cell number. Every man she’s met is a loser and she’s afraid she’s not going to find someone to love. Couple with she works in sales at a prominent fashion magazine, with the hopes that she can make editorial, her life is pretty bleh at the moment.
Someone tips her off to The Jane Austen Dating Agency. The Agency promises true love for not only Austen lovers but also for anyone who is tired of the dating game. Regency balls and games, tours of prominent Austen places and picnics, all to mimic the courting period of the Regency era.
This sounds divine to Sophie but of course hilarity ensues as she pits herself up against Darcy Drummond (I know, I know) who is everywhere. Do they are don’t they? (We already know the answer to that one dear reader.)
The book in the beginning moved incredibly slow; more chat and less action. It got to the point where I thought about chucking it because I didn’t think I could slog through the Mary Sue writing. Yes, yes, Sophie has problems with men. We get it. Yes, yes, Sophie is a great person. Yes, yes, her mates and her family are incredible. Ugh.
But finally, FINALLY, near the 1/3rd mark, the story starts to pick up. Woodifield goes from telling to showing. The action bits start to resemble, well, actual action. The word smithing got better, and I start to feel myself get into the story.
I will give Woodifield props as she is clever by blending in the primary plots from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (of course), and Persuasion into the story. Woodifield has the good sense to not name the characters are their inspiration with the exception of Darcy Drummond. If Woodifield had, I would have found the book a bit twee.
I did find it interesting that one of the characters says “f***” which, okay, we all know what that word means so blurring it out seems silly. There are a zillion other words Woodifield could have used instead of “fuck” and she choose not to. I have no idea what that is about.
Other than interweaving the Austen plot points, there really isn’t much here. It’s an okay story with your HEA which is why we all read romcoms. The Mary Sue-ing was also a bit much. Not much here to recommend other than if you’re an Austen pastiche fan, give it a go.
P.S. A sequel was released last year.