Friends rally round, connecting her to freelance gigs, and presenting her with a birthday gift— title to land in Scotland—that’s about to come in very handy. Turns out that Kate’s first freelance assignment is to test an Austen-inspired theory: in the toughest economic times is a wealthy man the only must-have accessory? What begins as an article turns into an opportunity as Kate—now Lady Kate—jet-sets to Palm Beach, St Moritz and London where, in keeping company with the elite, she meets prospects who make Mr. Darcy look like an amateur. But will rubbing shoulders with men of good fortune ever actually lead her to love? And will Kate be able to choose between Mr. Rich and Mr. Right?
After reading Kim Izzo’s wonderful novel ‘My Life in Black and White’ (check out my review here), I couldn’t wait to pick up her other book, ‘The Jane Austen Marriage Manual.’ As a big Jane Austen fan, I had already heard of this novel, but never actually managed to read it. During my summer holidays this year I went to Bath for a couple of days, and it definitely inspired me to pick up a novel with a bit of Austen in it. So, after admiring the cute pink cover of ‘The Jane Austen Marriage Manual’ and reading the interesting blurb, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in this story!
Sometimes you simply have one of those weeks, and that is exactly what happens to Katherine Shaw (known as Kate to the people around her). After losing her contract-to-contract job within the glamorous magazine world and the death of her beloved grandmother, things turn out to be even worse when Kate finds out that due to her mother’s gambling addiction, they are forced to sell the family home. Thanks to a good friend and her love for anything Jane Austen, Kate ends up with a freelance assignment to write an article about the modern-day dating market: is the solution to any female’s trouble a wealthy husband at her side (in line with Austen’s famous novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’)? Even though it begins as a job, it quickly turns out to be the perfect solution to Kate’s own problems. While travelling to fabulous places like Palm Beach, St. Moritz and London, Kate starts searching for her own Mr. Darcy. But in the end, does money really bring happiness, or will love still conquer all?
I loved the Austen element that was included in this novel. Back in Austen’s time it was indeed money that came in first place, before love, when it came to finding a suitable husband. This changed over the years, but it might still be a wise business investment to secure your future by marrying a rich man instead of marrying out of love. I really liked how Kate decides to explore this idea, and how the reader can experience how she struggles between following her mind or her heart. The fabulous locations with all the rich and glamorous people definitely added to the entertainment value of the novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Kate’s adventures in these places. She is a great heroine; smart, independent, persistent (Jane Austen would have definitely approved!), and I found myself laughing out loud every now and again while reading about some of the funny situations she managed to get herself in.
The novel gives us not one, but two handsome bachelors to dream about. On one side, we have charming older millionaire Scott Madewell, who is a taken man but definitely the perfect target for Kate and her experiment, and on the other side we have Griff Saunderson, the manager of a large estate that has been turned into a B&B, who turns up every single time Kate finds herself in trouble. The book includes a great mix of characters, both male and female, and this really made reading the story even more fun. As an Austen fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the parallels between Kate and Elizabeth Bennet (the main character in ‘Pride and Prejudice’), which is why I would definitely recommend this book to any person familiar with Austen and her work. However, even if you’re not a Jane Austen fan, Kim Izzo’s novel is a well-written, entertaining and romantic story that deals with a question we all ask ourselves at one point or another: does enough money guarantee happiness, or is love simply powerful enough to help you through anything?