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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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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The premise of the book is Jenny, as cousin of Jane Austen, recording in diary format the time spent with Jane Austen, going to boarding school, giggling, flirting etc. The prose style is similar to Austen, maybe more "frothy", and to some extent follows the essential JA themes of growing up and finding the right man, without anything offensive or controversial interfering with a simple, enjoyable read. My wife says that if she was younger, she would love this book; she still felt drawn in despite being 29!
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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 18 April 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I received this book I was a little surprised that rather than adult fiction, it was aimed at young teenagers. However I enjoy young adult fiction so I wasn't bothered, and as soon as I started reading it, I completely fell in love with it.

The story is about Jenny Cooper, the sixteen year old cousin of a fifteen year old Jane Austen. After losing her parents, Jenny goes to live with Jane and her family. She finds herself thrown into a world of balls, gowns and flirtations from rich young men, a naval captain and Jane's older brothers. The shy and pretty Jenny must navigate this new world whilst trying to keep a secret from her recent past, which if it got out would ruin her reputation and chances of marriage. Will she manage to keep her secret and who will she end up with?

This book is written in the form of Jenny's diary entries and I found this to be a great style, as we really get to know Jenny's character through all her thoughts and feelings. I immediately warmed to Jenny and the little sketches that she sprinkles throughout her diary are endearing too, and give us an idea of what the different characters look like. I found Jenny's love life to be completely addictive and I couldn't wait to find out whether she ended up with one of Jane's brothers, with William or with Captain Thomas.

The book is a real page turner and is sweet, funny and very readable. It gives us an enticing glance at who Jane Austen was and the sort of world she lived in. However if you are looking for a historically accurate book, this might not be for you, as little is really known about Jenny, and the author confesses at the end that even from what is known, she has changed quite a lot (such as Jenny's age and name!) Still, it gives us an idea of the time and its conventions, and I defy anyone to read this and not want to read Pride and Prejudice immediately afterwards, as this is like a junior version of that novel!

The novel is not perfect and I was vaguely aware that Jenny's writing style and the speaking style of all the characters is probably a bit modern for the time, however I can forgive any errors because I enjoyed the book so much. It kept me up reading at night and it's a long time since I've loved a novel this much, so it has to be five stars and a hearty recommendation from me!
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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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