Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood
by Abby McDonald,
Published by Candlewick, April 9, 2013
Description as posted on Goodreads:
Abby McDonald gives L.A. the Jane Austen treatment in this contemporary take on Sense and Sensibility.
Hallie and Grace Weston have never exactly seen life eye to eye. So when their father dies and leaves everything to his new wife, forcing the girls to pack up and leave San Francisco for a relative’s house in shiny Beverly Hills, the two sisters take to their changing lot in typically different styles. Shy, responsible Grace manages to make friends with an upbeat, enterprising girl named Palmer but still yearns for her old life — and the maybe-almost-crush she left behind. Meanwhile, drama queen Hallie is throwing herself headlong into life — and love — in L.A., spending every second with gorgeous musician Dakota and warding off the attention of brooding vet Brandon. But is Hallie blinded by the stars in her eyes? And is Grace doomed to forever hug the sidelines?
For more about Abby McDonald, check out her Goodreads page or her website.
My review, posted on Goodreads:
An authentic retelling of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood follows the original plot, but with a modern twist.
This was my first Abby McDonald novel and her writing and character development was definitely strong and captivating. Every SENSE AND SENSIBILITY fan knows the story, so I can’t imagine that it was an easy task for McDonald to make this novel sound fresh and interesting. But I liked the way McDonald changed the reason why the main characters Hallie and Grace Weston ended up being destitute when their father dies. I appreciated how Hallie didn’t dive into a relationship and held back while her sister Grace dived in. I think this book shows that there is a way to find balance. Brandon was probably one of my favorite characters and his silent and respectful attraction to Grace is appealing. I’m not exactly sure why he likes her so much, especially when she’s so unpleasant to him. Is it physical? Her passion for life? Perhaps both. Even as he watches Grace make a fool of herself over the fame-grabbing rising star singer Dakota, Brandon is patient. In the end, their connection deepens and they find they’re both really good for each other, understand each other through the different types of losses that they’ve experience in their lives.
The fake attitudes, user friendships, over-the-top parties and nightclubs portrayed in this novel is what you would expect from Hollywood. But McDonald shows another side with the compassion of the Weston’s relative who takes them in. Yes, there’s still lots and lots of money, but these characters are more relatable with their acts of kindness. They’re not clamoring to get ahead or to show off to anyone. They use their wealth to be generous, not to prove that they’re something they’re not or that their worth is based on materialistic things.
Hallie and Theo. (Hallie’s in HS, Theo is getting ready for college and wants to study philosophy.)
Theo and Lucy. (Lucy is a nanny from England and is definitely not respected by Theo’s wealthy family.)
Grace and Dakota. (The rising star musician that Grace falls madly in love with.)
Grace and Brandon. (Brandon served our country and watched some of his friends die. Grace mistakes him as a stalker – it’s a crazy, lol moment.)
Things that I loved:
1. The different ethnic backgrounds brought out in this novel.
2. Theo’s gentle patience with his nephew.
3. San Francisco!
4. Brandon and his passion for photography.
5. Hallie and her strong sense of identity and inner strength when faced with circumstances beyond her control.
6. The ending of the novel and the glimpse into the futures of each of the characters.
Thank you, Candlewick, for providing a review copy of this novel to me.