Saturday, April 24, 2010

According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

I was contacted by Marilyn Brant to read  ACCORDING TO JANE, which is her debut book to that released Oct 2009. This is by far one of the best books I have read this year. I think without going into serious detail and giving spoilers that I can tell you this touched me in such a way it is hard to describe. This book, a love story that spans 20 years approx is so..... well, how do I say, true to life. There is such heartache, passion, love, work in a few bad choice in boyfriends, a bitch of an older sister who tears you down at ever turn, insane family members who you love, but drive you to madness. Most of all there is a friendship that is so on and off, fragile and non-existent at times it took all I had not to just flip to the end of the book and read what the hell happens to these people. This is the friendship of Sam Blaine and Ellie Barnett who have a very fragile friendship if you can call it that. The book opens on Ellie and Sam's sophomore year in high school, where you can tell just from Sam's touches and Ellie's response to him that there are deeper feelings that both hide very well. Through flirting and a lot of jealousy on both ends there is an undying connection. Intertwined with the lives of the two characters there are family members who make you cringe and want to give a good shake. How can they be so heartless and cruel to Ellie? I think some of us will recognize some of these characters within our own lives as well. I especially loved Ellie's cousin Angelique who plans an importance roll throughout the story and grows into a mature woman with a beautiful family, even though she still spews nonsensically in french from time to time much to the annoyance of Ellie and myself. I think that is why I loved her so much, she is so real and quirky it is hard not to like the darn girl! Elli's sister also plays a huge part through out the book, first we see Di as a pretty much emotionally abusive older sister constantly calling her geek and tearing her down. But Di loves her sister Ellie as much as she knows how to at first, but as time goes by grows to appreciate Ellie and their friendship. I too grew to love Di as you saw a woman who had to surpass her own internal struggle of insecurities only to come out on top at the end. Then there is Sam, he is Ellie's soul mate, but as with life nothing works out the way we want. With his constant moves to make Ellie jealous he hits on girls through high school knowing that Ellie is watching his every move steaming mad and hurt by Sam's actions. Not that she helps, she is too afraid to act on her feeling until a week before their senior year ends they have sex, much to Sam's shock Ellie is a virgin. The strength of that bond I believe scares both, Sam into acting indifferent towards Ellie and Ellie's resentment at the rejection from him. They go their separate ways through college only to meet again at a bar, where their encounter is less than cordial when once again jealously rears it's ugly head. This time Ellie can no longer hold back the hurt and anger that spews out of her mouth only to ruin Sam's already faltering relationship with his girlfriend. What I enjoyed most is that not all these encounters were perfect, the relationship that Ellie and Sam have with each other and their significant others (however long or short the relationship ends up being) is so raw and sometimes downright so realistic that once again you forget this is a work of fiction. Ellie's romances throughout the twenty years are what has made her into the strong woman she is, one of the most important being the relationship with Jane. Jane Austin that is, who lives in her head since that fateful day back in sophomore English class when Jane decided to make her grand entrance. She and Ellie have an almost comical and if not at times mother-daughter if not mentor relationship. Jane sticks by Ellie throughout those years helping her cope with all of life's pitfalls but when it comes to Sam, Jane is in complete disapproval and calls Sam Ellie's Mr. Wickham. Who if you haven't read Pride and Prejudice Mr. Wickham is a complete scoundrel. There is a secret that Jane holds from Ellie and that is her connection to her, why she chose Ellie and why she has felt the need stick with her through thick and thin. Those not so pleasant times when Ellie felt so alone and unloved. I found the relationship humorous at times and feeling Ellie's frustration when Jane bashed Sam. Sam not so undeserving of some of Jane's criticism, but the man redeems himself in good time. If you count twenty years good time. I loved the ending of this story and was also sad to see it end as well. Sam needed time to grow up frankly, become the man that Ellie new he was inside. And Ellie, through her mismatched relationships with her past boyfriends and her family she too needed to grow up and forgiveness is apart of that maturity. It's a rough road to ANY Happily Ever After and as far as I am concerned no two characters deserve it more than Ellie and Sam. All I can say is, again without any spoilers is that Marilyn Brant you have a new super fan and I am singing your praises.


SNIPPET: "It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett’s teacher is assigning Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. From nowhere comes a quiet “tsk” of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who’s teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author’s ghost has taken up residence in Ellie’s mind, and seems determined to stay there.
Jane’s wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go—sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane’s counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham.
Still, everyone has something to learn about love—perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie’s head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending…"

ISBN-10: 0-7582-3461-9

ISBN-13: 978-0-7582-3461-2

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