Review Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman, 2006, 198 pages
I begged the floor to open and swallow me, as I had done so often during this distressful year. However, it had never yet obeyed. Why should it start now?
I was inspired to read this after Jessi’s review and in my generously spirited way, I had the idea of sending it on to Nancy because I got to thinking that she likes to read Austen-y books. [I gave up looking for the post that says just that, sigh.] AND… I saw it on an endcap at Borders and was itchin’ to buy something. That was my 2008 modus operandi; I’m being a bit less impulsive and more frugal in 2009.
There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast.
I enjoyed this book very much. HOWEVER, I almost put it off entirely because the very first word was ‘There’. I can still feel that stern lecture from some teacher back in primary school who after assigning a paragraph to explain who-knows-what (I was probably the first one done) that beginning ANYTHING with the word ‘there’ showed a lack of critical thinking skills. I have, ever since, been very conscious to NOT begin any sentence, first in paragraph or otherwise, with this strange word. I apologize to Ms. Shulman and her editor(s) for thinking so low of you right off the bat.
After relaxing my outrageously critical standards, I began to loosen up and relax with the story of Julie and her wild fun friend Ashleigh. They are juniors in high school and Ashleigh has caught the Jane Austen bug. She embarks on an adventure to find her very own Mr. Darcy and falls for the cute and adorable Charles Grandison Parr. But, of course! Julia is in love with him first!!! Which she does not tell Ashleigh about, deferring to her friend out of loyalty. (I’m not spoiling this, am I?)
Ashleigh greeted him warmly, but I could hardly hear what she said over the pounding in my ears, nor could I choke out more than a monosyllable. All through the ride home, while Ashleigh and Yolanda eagerly reviewed the afternoon’s events, I sat with my cheek pressed against the cool glass of the window, hardly blinking, hardly breathing. And the torture repeated itself all night long, first in my memory and then in my dreams, until I half hoped my blushes would set my sheets on fire, ending my misery in one magnificent blaze.
How the girls meet the boys and how they keep in contact with the boys and how they avoid other boys that ‘like’ them when they don’t like them back – oh yes, it’s all teenybopper hi-jinks and drama. But for the most part, very sweet and decent. I wouldn’t say the story mirrors Pride & Prejudice exactly, but the class issues are played up, the parental concerns, the mistaken affections, the conflicts of loyalty to oneself and others are delightful rolled into this tale of first love.
I fell asleep that night in a dazzle of happiness.
[I was once voted MOST THOUGHTFUL during my college sorority days; I was given a charm and wore the bracelet for the month that included all the charms of wonderful characteristics we were encouraged to develop in our personalities. But I really wanted to be MOST ENTHUSIASTIC…]
I will now be ‘thoughtful’ and enthusiastically send it on to Nancy! I hope you enjoy it as much as Jessi and I did.