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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fictionalised narration of a few months in the life of Jane Austen when she was a teenager. It takes the form of a diary written by her friend and cousin Jenny Cooper who lived with the Austen family for a time. It gives an interesting insight into the life of young girls at the end of the 18th century. The book is aimed at children but it can equally well be read by adults. I found it fascinating and I think it would lead many people reading it to go on and read Jane Austen's novels. Many of the characters who appear will be familiar to anyone who is familiar with Austen's writing.

What is most interesting about the book is that `Jenny' Cooper did exist - though her real name was Jane. I found the love stories featured in the book touching and poignant and the relationships between the members of the Austen family were well drawn. The author says she took her information from letters between the various members of the family to make them authentic and to me the characters were completely believable.

I enjoyed this book and thought the line drawings scattered throughout the text helped to bring it to life. Life for respectable, but not wealthy, families is well described and this book would be a good way to absorb an accurate picture of what it was like to live in a large family with few servants at the end of the 18th century. The book shows how girls with no personal fortunes had to do their best to marry someone who was at least reasonably well off or they faced a dismal future as a governess.
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VINE VOICEon 31 December 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although this book is aimed at the YA age group it is satisfying enough to appeal to older Janites too, I feel. I have been a long term fan of Jane Austen and found this book is a fun tale of how the teenage Jane Austen might have been. It is told through the eyes of Jane Austen's cousin Jenny (Jane) Cooper and some of it in diary form.

Nicely written and it had me getting a bit misty eyed in places. The addition of little sketches throughout the book also added to it. Capt Thomas Williams is a worthy hero of Jenny's affections and I liked the little incidences peppered around that made reference to Jane's future stories. A satisfying read. A nice book for the younger Austenites in the family, but the older ones might be in danger of borrowing it too!
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on 16 June 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have always been a big fan of Jane Austen and her novels so when I heard about this novel by Cora Harrison I was interested to read it. I didn't realise that it was targeted at the teen/young adult market however. I have read some other books aimed at this age group so wasn't too worried.

`Jenny' Cooper is Jane's cousin and school friend and this is her diary over a year, which we are reading, where for much of it she lived with the Austen family in Steventon, Hampshire. In it she writes about her and Jane's life, her thoughts and makes sketches (illustrated by Susan Hellard) and is aged about fifteen. The language used is more contemporary than you would expect from the period, but I think this is a concession to the target audience, making it more accessible and relatable. I certainly think it would educate a 21st century teen into the life of an 18th century one, as the way of life for young ladies of the time is clearly discussed, as is the fashions and etiquette of the time. The diary format means the book has natural breaks, and keeps it to an easy, light read.

As easy as this is to read (certainly for me as an adult, and I can imagine older children wouldn't struggle either), there still needs to be a story. There is an element of intrigue and romance in the book that helps keep the story flowing across the diary entries. I found myself quite hooked in no time, absorbed in the family relationships, enigmatic gentlemen and other assorted characters. There are not too many characters either, Jane has a lot of brothers and Jenny notes down a little bit about each one at the beginning of the book so that she (and us) can keep track and have something to refer back to if we needed.

For anyone who has read anything about Jane Austen as a person, or visited her homes or the Jane Austen Centre in Bath then you will enjoy the references made to her family, people and places that appear in the book. Generally I think the book has been well-researched and is fairly accurate, although with all historical fiction some artistic license is required. Jane really did have a cousin Cooper, but she was called Jane also, hence her name being changed to avoid confusion in the book, and she wasn't quite the right age. Jane Austen actually went to boarding school with her sister Cassandra and shared a bedroom with her most of her life, but in this book that role was taken by Jenny.

The book is definitely aimed at the female market (mine has a contemporary pink cover to it) and is quite girlie. The illustrations are usually of family members or fashion details such as lace trims, and don't take up much of the book. If that doesn't put you off then I do recommend reading this book, I think the plot is absorbing and generally well-written and can appeal to Jane-ites across the board and is an excellent introduction to Austen for younger readers. However, I think you would get slightly more out of it if you had read some of her books prior to reading this.
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VINE VOICEon 13 February 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For young Jane Austen fans, this book is an interesting (but certainly not historically accurate) take on what her life might have been like as a teenager growing up at Steventon.

The book is written from the viewpoint of Janes's cousin, Jenny, who uses her diary as her means of communicating the story to us.

It's really a love-story between Jenny and a naval Captain, who she first meets in circumstances that could potentially ruin a young lady's reputation if word of it were to reach her family or the local society. There are many similarities between some of the scenarios that appear in the book and with events that appear in Jayne Austen's novels themselves. The fun is to identify which characters that Jane and Jenny meet as teenagers then go on to become fully formed characters in Jane's own novels later in her life. Obviously, some of these characters are engineered to fit into this novel , but non the less its a light hearted way of writing and it makes fun reading.

This is a longer than some book, which some teenagers might become bored with, but I found the story quite charming and sweet and I have always enjoyed novels set during this period so it was a lovely book to read.

If you are a die-hard Jane Austen fan you might well loathe the liberties that have been taken with the real-life characters, but if like me, you can just enjoy the book as a story and lay historical accuracy to one side, you'll probably really enjoy it.
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on 18 April 2011
This book, was incredible.
Getting to know the shy Jenny Cooper, and how Miss Jane Austen was as a teenager. LOVED IT! I adored the thought of the balls, dresses, secrets, scandals and beaus. The thought of being proposed to in that day and age. The forbidden love, the money grabbers. Fab book!

You feel really connected to all the characters, they are very realistic and I really enjoyed meeting every single one of them.
I enjoyed the diary format, and how chatty it was. I found it easy to read and really enjoyable. Hopefully the sequel will be just as fabulous!!
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2010
When I chose this book I did not realise that it was being marketed as a childrens book but I decided to read it any way and was glad that I had.
The book felt like a nostalgic journey back to my Enid Blyton days (particularly with the boarding school setting at the beginning). Throw into that some 18th century social conventions and the result is a book with a Jane Austen style of writing for those who do not feel they want to tackle a Jane Austen book. The writing takes slightly more modern form, making it much more accessible.
I think the ideal audience would be 11-12 year old girls but I also think it would provide a very good lead in to anyone who wanted to read a Jane Austen.
There is a lot of background about Jane's life which also makes the book of some value for anyone interested in Jane Austen. It is fiction but the author writes an note at the end which answers the "how much was true" question and I came away with the definate feeling that Cora Harrison must have had fun writing this book.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I quite enjoyed this book as I am a Jane Austen fan (Jane-ite, Austen-ite, whatever) so I jumped at the chance to read this ahead of publication. It is a book aimed at a younger audience and I think generally that is where its appeal will lie but I also think that any fans of Jane Austen should consider it, especially as it deals with the fictionalised life of the younger Jane, although I can't comment on the historical accuracy it is on the whole a charming book, with great appeal to girls especially. At 320 pages it's a good sized children's book but I would have liked the ending to be a little less rushed, so I'm sure they could have squeezed in a few more pages just to make a more satisfactory conclusion.

As this was a review copy I did not receive "a beautiful gift package" I just got a book so I can't comment on that.
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VINE VOICEon 3 January 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I didn't know this was a child's book when I ordered it from the Vine Programme but I soon realised that it was aimed at children rather than adults. Despite this, I thought it was a really sweet and readable story. I really cared about all the characters and what happened to them. I liked the fact that the characters were based on real people and I enjoyed all the little references to the actual works of Austen. The pictures also really added to the book.
I have only given three stars as I am really not keen on the style of the book. I can see how it would be good for children, but I have never enjoyed the 'diary like' form of writing. However, even as an adult I enjoyed this book... despite it not being a novel I would re-read.
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on 29 October 2010
I first saw this book under suggestions that Amazon had generated for me to read and fell in love with the beautiful cover. The connection with Jane Austen appealed to me because although I have watched several film adaptations of her novels and loved the time period, I had not yet read any at the time of readint the book so I felt it would be a perfect introduction.

The book is told through the diary entries of young Jenny Cooper, who is Jane Austen's orphan cousin and comes to live with the Austen family at Steventon. Although Jane is not the main character, she is written about a lot by Jenny as she is involved in the storyline as the girls are 'best friends.' I think this ensures that the book has a unique plot of its own and is not one of the many Jane Austen spins offs which rely entirely on her character.
The story opens in 1791 when Jenny and Jane are at Mrs Crawley's boarding school for young ladies where they are treated very badly and Jane is very ill with a raging fever. Fearing for Jane's life, Jenny commits the ultimate crime in the eyes of high society by escaping from the school onto the streets of Southampton alone at night to send a letter to her Aunt. Petrified and alone, she meets the handsome Captain Thomas Williams who escorts her to the post inn. Although promising never to tell anyone about the escapade, Captain Thomas Williams has the power to ruin and disgrace Jenny in society. Little does Jenny know at the time that scandalous night walk will affect her life for a long time.
Back at Steventon, Jenny gradually fits in with the Austen family and meets all of Jane's many brothers and sisters, learns the language of the fan when the French women Aunt Eliza visits and falls head over heels in love.....

In the diary format that flowed naturally I found myself hooked instantly and absorbed in Jenny's world with family relationships, dashing gentlemen and balls.
I also loved the cute illustrations (by Susan Hellard) at the sides of the pages with sketches of the characters or fashion and hairstyle details that added an adorable extra dimension to Jenny's diary along with snippets of writing that Jane has given her.

Cora Harrison has researched the period details very well and as you are reading the diary of Jenny, it really does make you feel as if you are in that era. I also thought that Jane Austen's world and family as a young girl was re created accurately and I could imagine how certain events went on to inspire her later novels.
The author's note at the end of the book was very helpful in distinguishing what was fact and what the author had used creative licence for. I think that Cora Harrison created just the right balance between the two and the ideas worked very well together.

I really liked Jenny's character as she was shy, kind and warm, the opposite to Jane;'s vibrant, humourous and clever personality that lit up the book with witty remarks. Also, I think that the ending was very cleverly done with a small twist and it left me feeling very light hearted and happy once I had turned the last page.

I would reccommend this book to anyone who enjoys a romantic story or likes historical books that are relevant to them and likes the sound of Jane Austen as this book is the perfect introduction to her novels. I have now read Pride and Prejudice for the first time (I think my age thirteen is the perfect time to start reading Austen) and thoroughly enjoyed it.
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VINE VOICEon 4 February 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is suitable for readers from about 10-14 years of age.
It tells the story of Jane Austens' cousin through her fictional journal.
In the book she lives with Jane. The book introduces us to the society in which they lived.
I enjoyed this gentle,girlish read immensely.
I would recommend it to younger readers but any fan of Austen would probably enjoy it.Younger readers should then,obviously, be directed to this....Pride and Prejudice (Wordsworth Classics)
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