Jane Goes Batty: A Novel
I’ve never been a big fan of the fad for crossing historic characters and/or literary characters with the paranormal genre. This might be because much of it began with the short-lived sub-genre typified by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But there have been a few novels that skirt this territory that I’ve enjoyed. Chief among them is the trilogy by Michael Thomas Ford about a vampiric Jane Austen living in the present day. The second novel, Jane Goes Batty, follows our intrepid heroine as she copes with the newfound fame of being a bestselling author in the modern world.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Life was a lot easier for Jane when she was just an unknown, undead bookstore owner in a sleepy hamlet in upstate New York. But now the world embraces her as Jane Fairfax, author of the bestselling novel Constance—and she’s having a killer time trying to keep her true identity as the Jane Austen a secret. Even the ongoing lessons in How to Be a Vampire, taught by her former lover Lord Byron, don’t seem to be helping much. Jane can barely focus on her boyfriend, Walter, while keeping him in the dark about her more sanguine tastes.
To make matters worse, Walter announces that his mother is coming for a visit—and she’s expecting Jane to be Jewish. Add in a demanding new editor, a convention of romance readers in period costume, a Hollywood camera crew following Jane’s every move, and the constant threat of a certain bloodsucking Brontë sister coming back to finish her off, and it’s enough to make even the most well-mannered heroine go batty!”
At the time of this writing, I’ve read all three books in the trilogy, and I have to say, this one is my favorite. Our main character is first and foremost an author, albeit one who is two hundred years removed from the time of her greatest creativity. I think that if Jane were alive today, it would be inevitable that she would write again. It would be interesting to see how her novels would be received by a present-day audience. And this is a large part of the fun of the book—seeing how her work is judged against the rest of the crowd.
The other fun part is watching how someone with such a huge secret deals with the deluge of media attention brought about by her newest book’s bestseller status. While Jane has obviously lived enough in our world to be comfortable with modern attitudes and technology, she has never been the recipient of this degree of public exposure. Quite apart from her being a vampire, it’s overwhelming in its own right.
Ford salts his narrative with a film crew eager to make DVD extras for the upcoming movie of Jane’s book, a romance writer’s convention, and all the wackiness that goes along with intense media attention. As a character, Jane is eminently practical—much like her most famous heroines—and following her through the silliness of staged interviews and costumed convention-goers lends a humorous air to the tale.
The other side of the plot involved Jane and her relationship with Walter. But even that is complicated by the arrival of Walter’s mother, who is a formidable character in her own right. The issue of Jane’s condition is, of course, a massive problem that she has no clue how to deal with. The only way Jane can have a real relationship with Walter is to be honest with him, but the stress of having his mother around make such candor nearly impossible.
There are a few more surprises in this novel, but I won’t spoil it for anybody. Suffice to say that Jane Goes Batty is chock full of memorable characters and features a plot worthy of a Regency-era story. Slyly mixing the literary and the fantastic, this novel is one that I highly recommend for a some light-hearted reading.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on April 2, 2012.