Monday, March 14, 2011

Jane Goes Batty

Jane Goes Batty. Michael Thomas Ford. 2011. Random House. 304 pages.

"Not again."

Jane Goes Batty is the sequel to Jane Bites Back. The premise is simple (and fun): what if Jane Austen were a vampire? Where would she be living? What would she be doing? What would she think of this 'modern' world? What would she think of the Twilight books? Jane Fairfax knows the answer because she is Jane Austen. True, most folks know her as the owner of an independent book store. And more are getting to know her as the newly published author of Constance. But only a few know her true identity. One, Lucy, is her closest friend. The second, the man who turned her, none other than Lord Byron! (And then there's Our Gloomy Friend. She too knows about Byron and Austen and their new lives as modern writers.)

In the second novel, Jane is struggling with writer's block. Now that her "first" novel, Constance is a success, now that it is being adapted into a movie, she's expected to be hard at work on a second novel. But. Jane finds herself unable to write coherently. Is she distracted by her boyfriend, Walter? Perhaps. Is it worry about his mother coming to town? That she is expecting Jane to convert to Judaism? Could be. Is it anxiety that Walter is thinking of marriage?! That certainly plays a large part in her anxiety. For the question then becomes should she or shouldn't she--tell him the truth. Which would he find harder to believe? The fact that she's a vampire? Or the fact that she's Jane Austen?

I loved the humor and the drama. It's just very clever. I especially liked the scenes about the movie. How it is being "adapted." I loved the references to Twilight too! Very funny! It's just great fun to read these books!

Byron laughed, earning him another fierce look from Jane. "Literature has always been spectacle," he said. "Do you really think we held all those literary salons so that we could exchange ideas? Of course not. It was so we could gossip about everyone who wasn't there. And don't you remember how James Joyce used to wander through Paris mumbling nonsense words until people recognized him?"
He cleared his throat and in perfect imitation of Joyce's impish Irish brogue said, "Spifflepond puppetdingle griffintide! Woozlewoozle crumpetpeal dirf! Why yes, I am James Joyce. You enjoyed Ulysses? Bless you, madam. Bless you." (3)
"Does Walter want children?" Kelly asked.
The question took Jane by surprise. "I don't know," she said. "We've never discussed it. But it really doesn't matter. I'm far too old for that sort of thing."
"You aren't," Kelly said. "They can do wonderful things with in vitro these days. A friend of ours is pregnant for the first time at forty-seven. With twins. Can you imagine?"
Jane did imagine it. And she was horrified. It had never occurred to her that Walter might want children. She wasn't even sure she could have children. Of course, the girl in the Twilight books did, she mused.
"You know I'm joking," Kelly said after Jane had been silent for some time.
"Of course," said Jane. "I was just trying to imagine going to my child's graduation at the age of two hundred and fifty-three." (47)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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