I’ve never read any of Julia Quinn’s novels despite reading wonderful things about her, the likes of which included statements ranking her as a contemporary Jane Austen. I know Austen isn’t unanimously revered, but for someone like me that sort of praise is worthy of very few. However, for Julia Quinn I can say that it rather rings true. She has the zippy sort of wit that shimmers of Austen’s influence on fiction and her characters, while perhaps a little too perfect for some of today’s discerning reader, are filled with such kindness, good-humor and charm that you cannot help but find them memorable. The villain for this particular book, might I add, was an achievement in villainy. The plot had much more substance than I had expected, with lots of twists and turns and few clichés. Even when it moved slowly I was deliciously at ease with it. If you’ve ever wanted to live in the Regency era countryside of England, I think you’d enjoy this book. I felt there were a few proverbial holes in the plot – or rather, maybe there were filled-in spaces that I thought were a little weak – but I was far too charmed with the characters and the storyline and the utter Austenishness of it all to bother with being bothered. There were also a few typos or words left out that the editor may have missed, but again I was having far too much fun living in my little Regency dream world to take any real note of them.
I also love that Quinn’s similarity to Austen in her writing doesn’t become overbearing. There are no truths universally acknowledged here. She maintains her own uniqueness all the way through:
“A lady must have her own private reserve of secrets and strength.”
A favorite line of mine, it reverberates with the harmonies of the time period without seeming copied, reworded or otherwise quoted the way I’ve seen before. I’d love to see her exercise this sort of wording a bit more in her descriptions, which are still perfectly fine and lovely as they are, but I seem to be partial to the sorts of books that move languidly, dreamily, like a long walk through an autumn wood with no particular destination. There were parts of the book that felt on the verge of that while others moved faster, leaving behind the possibility for paragraphs of interesting descriptions.
What it all comes down to is the very simple fact that, perfections and imperfections aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading Ten Things I Love About You. Sometimes with books I’ll be counting down the pages until the end, having to reread sentences because I was too busy thinking about what I wanted to read next to bother with paying attention, but I found myself happily lost and engrossed in Ten Things I Love About You; I definitely didn’t want it to end.