Enthusiasm

( 56 )

Overview

"When someone asks for a reading suggestion, Enthusiasm is the first word off my tongue." —Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight

"There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast."
Julie knows from bitter experience: her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. Ashleigh's current fancy is also Julie's own passion, Pride and Prejudice, and the heroine's quest for True Love. And so Julie finds herself swept...

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Overview

"When someone asks for a reading suggestion, Enthusiasm is the first word off my tongue." —Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight

"There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast."
Julie knows from bitter experience: her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. Ashleigh's current fancy is also Julie's own passion, Pride and Prejudice, and the heroine's quest for True Love. And so Julie finds herself swept along with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks and sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys' prep school. There they discover several likely candidates for True Love, including the handsome and sensitive Parr. And Julie begins to wonder if maybe this obsession of Ashleigh's isn't so bad after all. . . .

Fans of Jane Austen and Meg Cabot, and Maureen Johnson alike will swoon for Polly Shulman's charming novel.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Despite the fact that Julie Lefkowitz is often exasperated by her best friend Ashleigh, "an Enthusiast," the 15-year-old loyally tolerates and often takes part in Ashleigh's various crazes. Ashleigh's current interest is the book Pride and Prejudice, and her latest scheme is to crash a formidable boys' school to attend a dance and find a 21st-century version of Mr. Darcy for herself, as well as a suitable companion for Julie. Dressed in vintage gowns, the girls do manage to slip into the dance and hook up with two agreeable young gentlemen. The problem is that both girls become smitten with the same guy-the shyer, more refined of the two boys. What follows is a sequence of witty exchanges, comic errors and miscommunications that could be taken right out of a Jane Austen novel. When all four characters get cast in a play, opportunities for passionate encounters abound; love triangles emerge and eventually evolve into appropriate romantic pairings. Those familiar with Jane Austen's writing style and themes will most appreciate the many overt and subtle references to the 19th-century author. If a couple of episodes seem a little over the top (as when Parr-allegedly-gets locked out of campus and climbs through Julie's window to share her bed for the night), readers caught up in this debut novel's romantic whimsy and humor will willingly suspend their disbelief. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Julie and Ashleigh are best friends and near opposites. While Julie is quiet and bookish, Ashleigh is excitable, and in the words of Julie, an "Enthusiast." Ashleigh bounces from obsession to obsession-for books, music groups, and fashions-while Julie is content to watch from the sidelines. When Ashleigh becomes preoccupied with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, she engineers a plan to infiltrate the local boys' prep school's fall formal dance, where she is certain both girls will find their own "Mr. Darcys." Equal parts romance and farce, this novel is an enjoyable read. Ashleigh is an irrepressible character and is drawn in sharp contrast to sober narrator Julie, who begins each chapter with a nineteenth-century style summary: "Chapter 7: An unglass slipper; a farewell to forefield; I eat the pancakes of anguish." Although the primary plot line follows Ashleigh's lead as she convinces Julie to sneak into the dance and audition for a play, the secondary plot is more realistic and involves Julie's relationship with her divorced parents and her father's new wife. The ultimate resolution to the girls' romantic conflicts will not be a surprise to readers familiar with the genre; however, Julie's wry voice and self-deprecating humor will make the conclusion more satisfying. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 208p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Amy S. Pattee
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Best friends Julia and Ashleigh, both avid Jane Austen fans, are looking for a little romance, but Julia's approach is much more conservative than Ashleigh's. Ashleigh's latest craze involves crashing the fall dance at the local boys' prep school in search of men and, perhaps, her Mr. Darcy. Julia, who's not sure about this idea, reluctantly goes with her. There they are befriended by two boys, one of whom happens to be the Mysterious Stranger Julia had previously spotted in the mall. The four teens establish a friendship, and, for the first time, Julia feels the crush of friendship guilt: she longs to get to know the Mysterious Stranger, but Ashleigh has proclaimed feelings for him first. This frustration is exacerbated when the girls receive parts in the boys' school play and the four see one another almost every day. Julia begins to receive small gifts and love notes, but cannot allow herself to believe they could be from the boy she wishes had sent them. Add to that another suitor for Julia and she is completely confused about love in the 10th grade. She has a cool head on her shoulders, however, and pulls through without melodrama and experiences her satisfying first (and second) kiss. A charming romantic comedy.-Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two best friends experience confusion in love in this nifty little spin on Pride and Prejudice. Julie can't contain the swiftly changing obsessions of Ashleigh, so she goes along with them as best friends do. Ashleigh's latest craze is Jane Austen. She decides to crash the school dance at the exclusive boy's school in town, in an effort to meet Darcy and Bingley. The scheme works, and Julie falls hard for handsome Parr. Ashleigh, meanwhile, chooses Parr as her fanciful Darcy. Julie suffers, but can't see that Parr is equally attracted to her. Comical misunderstandings ensue in this innocent who-will-wind-up-dating-whom farce. Shulman manages to lift the story above standard fare with clever plotting and quirky, often elegant writing that should please the literary crowd while keeping romance lovers engaged. Several cuts above the usual fare. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439555767
  • Publisher: Baker & Taylor, CATS
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 198
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Polly Shulman is also the author of The Grimm Legacy (a Bank Street Best Book and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Finalist) and its companion novel, The Wells Bequest. She has written for many newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Discover, Newsday, Salon, Slate, Smithsonian, Scientific American, Archaeology, and The Village Voice. She has never dared to crash a dance, but when she was in high school she sometimes wrote her math homework in rhyme and meter. She majored in math at Yale and grew up in New York City, where she lives with her husband in a tall old building guarded by gargoyles.

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Read an Excerpt

Enthusiasm


By Polly Shulman

Putnam Juvenile

ISBN: 0-399-24389-5


Chapter One

"What good is a heroine without a hero? From what I remember of freshman year, we will be hard-pressed to find even a single gallant at Byzantium High. I despair of finding a pair of them there! But fortunately, I have discovered the answer."

Clearly Ashleigh had finished the research portion of her fad and moved on to the active stage. Now that she had decided to enact a 200-year-old love story with us as the heroines, I was afraid the results would be mortifying.

Without much hope, I tried to head her off. "I thought you despised boy-crazy girls like Michelle Jeffries and those people. You always said crushes were for noodleheads."

Ashleigh drew herself up to her full height, which I couldn't have done in her position-standing on my bed-since my head would have hit the sloping roof; her figure may be more mature than mine, but she's six inches shorter.

"I speak not of crushes, Miss Lefkowitz," she replied, "but of True Love."

True Love! What girl hasn't dreamed of that? Even the shyest among us longs for a soul mate-someone who will understand our hopes and fears, laugh at our jokes, offer us his coat when the afternoon turns cold, charm our parents, and admire us, flaws and all....

Yet if Ashleigh cherished a similar dream, I feared for her peace of mind. For is True Love likely to come to a high school sophomore who dresses in a chorus robe and ballet slippers?

"Okay, but listen, Ash," I said. "You're not planning to go to school wearing that, are you? No guy will even look at you." Me neither if they see me with you, I added inwardly. "Couldn't you please, please, please wear jeans?"

As always, my plea fell on deaf ears. "I see not the necessity of discussing with you, Miss Lefkowitz, the propriety of a young lady wearing Trousers. As you know, modesty forbids us to reveal the shape of the Lower Limbs."

If you do get a boyfriend, he's going to want to see a lot more than just the shape of your Lower Limbs, I argued silently. Fortunately, I reflected, the school year wouldn't start for another week-enough time, I hoped, to make her see reason.

"And don't you think you could call me Julie?" I continued. "We've known each other long enough, surely."

"My dearest Julia, you are right, indeed you are right. After all, in Pride and Prejudice Miss Elizabeth Bennet addresses her bosom friend, Miss Lucas, by the name of Charlotte, and they are no more affectionately attached than the two of us. But please, my dear friend, allow me to continue. As I said, I believe I have the solution to our puzzle of where to find our heroes."

"Our puzzle? It's not my puzzle," I put in.

Ashleigh shook me by the arm, letting her language slip a bit in her impatience. "Will you listen already? In Pride and Prejudice, where do the younger Bennet girls turn for lively masculine company? Why, to the regiment of soldiers quartered near their home. Were we to follow their lead, where better to seek suitors than among our neighboring young men in uniform?" ...

Forefield, an exclusive boys' prep school, rises above the town of Byzantium both geographically and socially. Its main building, once the mansion of the Forefield family, can be seen from most of the town, including my attic window. As a little girl I thought it was an enchanted castle, the home of a witch or a princess. I now considered it the home of gawky boys with crests embroidered on their blazer pockets-that is, of snobs, dorks, adders, or (most likely) snobbish, dorky adders....

"You want to crash the Snoot School Dork Dance? Are you out of your candy wrapper? What could that possibly have to do with Jane Austen?"

"Surely, Miss Lefkowitz, you can see that a gathering of young gentlemen dressed in formal attire, well practiced in time-honored dance steps, and unaccustomed to the company of young ladies-and therefore bound to treat us with modesty and respect-is the ideal place to meet our matches. Can you be blind to the perfection of the plan?"

Perfection! If the plan had any, I certainly was blind to it. In my experience, at least, boys who hadn't spent a lot of time around girls were less likely, not more, to behave themselves.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 56 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(36)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great! Read this!

    Julie is just an average girl, trying to lead a normal life. That¿s kind of hard, especially when her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. She brings Julie on a wild ride, waiting in line at 10:00am for a concert ticket when they give out tickets at midnight, wearing flower flannel nightgown to the mall, and many other absurd actions that make Julie embarrassed. There is one passion that Julie keeps to herself though; Jane Austen¿s famous love story Pride and Prejudice. However, Ashleigh¿s new obsession just happens to be Jane Austen. Since Julie is the loyal friend that she is, she somehow another found herself crashing an all-boy¿s prep school dance. Since Ashleigh believes they must dress resembling to the characters in Austin¿s book, Julie finds herself wearing high heels and a vintage frock. There, she meets her own Mr. Bingley, Grandison Parr. However, when her best friend also falls for Grandison Parr, Julie doesn¿t know what to do. Will she be willing to break her best friend¿s heart over a boy or will she have to suppress her love for Grandison forever?<BR/> This suspenseful romance is sure to grab any teenage girl¿s attention. As the phase of dating and boys comes along, most girls can probably relate to Julie¿s situation. I believe this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to induce themselves in a breathtaking romance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    Anonymous

    This sucks! Don't waste your time or money on this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    Hey

    Oped gannam style

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Worst @&-+'&? sample ever!

    Allissaidabove

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    This review is about the sample!

    This review is just about te sameple! The sample is horrible!
    All it says is credits, copyright, and when it finally got to the actual book it didn't say that the book had even started and there was only a sentence in the novel that remained.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Exciting

    This book was very entergetic. There was never a dull moment! I felt like i was in the book felling thier feelings and knowing what there next move was.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2011

    Book worm *D*

    I lovelove Love r These types of books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2011

    I am in love

    Great book, super cute- a great light read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2011

    I hate it

    Worst book ever

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Enthusiasm!

    You know you're in trouble when you and your best friend. Only problem is you keep this fact away from your friend.
    Julie is in quite a dilemma when she finds out that her best friend since forever considers Grandison Parr, the super-cute boy, to be her Mr. Darcy. Doesn't everyone want to find their Mr.Darcy at some point in their lives? The problem is that Julie had always had her eyes set on him but due to loyalty she suppresses the ever obvious feelings and let her friend take the lead. But the chemistry between both Julie and Grandison is ever evident. Not to mention its extremely hard to not feel anything for a person if you're with them 24/7.

    Overall this book was a super light and easy read. Definitely recommended for those who just want to relax and not rack their brains too much. I actually enjoyed reading this book and there came a point where i was super eager to find out what happens so i finished the book overnight.

    The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. I have always been attracted to books that depict a certain old story or is based on one, like this one. Did you know that Jane Austen's niece Anna wrote a novel named Enthusiasm which she sent to her aunt. Miss Austen then changed the name and said that it should be Who is the Heroine? Such was the case in this novel. One definitely wonders who actually the heroine is. (not really)

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  • Posted January 28, 2011

    WONDERFUL!

    This book has quickly become my new favorite. It has both characters that are relatable and an amusing story line, and by the end i really felt like i knew the characters. I could not put this book down and would recommend it to everyone, It is the essence of a teenage romance. : )

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  • Posted November 3, 2010

    Great Read

    How can I describe the book Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman? In a word I would call it charming. It is a young adult romance, but any romantic with a sense of humor (from 12 to 92) will enjoy this straightforward and sweet story.

    While reading this book, I fell in love with Ms. Shulman's writing. It's fun, yet intelligent, and this translated into her characters. You can clearly tell the author has a love of Austen and classic literature. She has a flare for poetry, too which comes out in the writing. This is a book of comedy as well as romance and other issues of family, friendship, and first loves. It was very well written and interesting especially finding all the Jane Austen and other literary references. The author has depicted teen age relationships extremely well.

    What really endeared this book to me is that I found myself really starting to feel everything that the heroine of the story was going through. As Parr would walk into the coffeehouse where Julie was enjoying a beverage, my heartbeat sped up just like the heroine's. Even though it is written in first person from the perspective of the heroine, you get to know the hero, Charles Grandison Parr very well. You know what he's feeling, his passion and his torment. You will fall in love with him.

    It's a clean, sweet story that I would recommend for pre-teen girls and up. I would read this one again.and again.and again.

    Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews

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  • Posted February 4, 2010

    FAVORITE BOOK EVER

    i can honesyly say this is my all time favorite book. If your a Teenager thats a hopeless romantic & you love blond boys with terquiose eyes.. YOU'LL LOVE THIS! i wont spoil it for you. just trust me. READ IT!

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  • Posted October 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!

    I thought this book was so awesome! I didn't know if I would like it at first, but I loved it! Read this book!

    Keep Reading Everybody!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2009

    [=

    it started off slow, but once you get to about chapter two, you wont be able to but the book down.

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  • Posted December 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    awesome book!!

    i picked it up and once i started reading it i couldnt stop till i finished it, its not the best book ive read but its a fun read and id reread if i could.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce for TeensReadToo.com

    There are plenty of reasons for readers to be enthusiastic about Polly Shulman's new novel, ENTHUSIASM! It is full of fascinating characters, funny situations, and even romance. The book is told from the point of view of Julie, who is best friends with always-enthusiastic Ashleigh. Ashleigh doesn't just have interests; for her, they're always full-blown obsessions. She's been through phases where she has loved a band called the Wet Blankets, Harriet the Spy, ballet, King Arthur, and a lot more. When Julie lent her friend PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, by Jane Austen, the newest fad began. <BR/><BR/>For Ashleigh, the Enthusiast, it could never be just a great book. She's got to speak like someone from hundreds of years ago, learn ballroom dancing, wear long skirts, and find True Love. As usual, Julie's got to try and talk some sense into her friend. Sure, they'll still end up publicly humiliated (as usual), but maybe it can be to a lesser degree. Perhaps she can convince Ashleigh to at least put on some jeans! <BR/><BR/>No matter what Julie does, however, she still can't convince Ashleigh to give up the idea of finding True Love--dressing and acting like the heroine from a Jane Austen novel. Ashleigh is convinced they'll be able to find True Love while crashing a dance at the local boys' prep school, Forefield Academy. The rest of the story has confusion, romance, comedy, humiliation, and a lot more that will have readers hooked up until the very last page! <BR/><BR/>It's a story that teens will be able to relate to, even if their best friends aren't nearly so enthusiastic as Ashleigh. Everyone's been embarrassed by a friend, but you've still got to stick by them, right? And then of course there's the fact that Ashleigh has set her sights on the guy Julie's crushing on. A sticky situation that lots of girls can relate to! Told in Julie's engaging, witty voice, this entertaining story has every element of a great young adult novel that is sure to be popular for a long time to come. I know I'm not alone in hoping for another novel by Polly Shulman that's as unique and interesting as this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2008

    Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

    Polly Shulman¿s novel, Enthusiasm, was an awesome book and I would highly recommend it to others! It was about many different topics that teens deal with each day, such as both `girls¿ and `guys¿ attempting to figure out who they have crushes on, while at the same time trying to discover who they are as individuals. Enthusiasm¿s theme seemed to be that of a romantic comedy with two oddly paired friends 'Ashleigh and Julie', opposites even, going through different events together and each dealing with the outcomes in very diverse ways. I have yet to read the novel, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin, but this book makes it apparent that many of the events are based upon situations that occurred in that novel. Nevertheless, I do not feel that the fact that I had not read Jane Austin¿s book, took anything away from my enjoyment of reading Enthusiasm. ~Julie narrated the entire book so the story line is written from her perspective. She comes through as a `down to earth¿ girl who realizes that her friend Ashleigh is obsessive whenever she is introduced to a new `craze.¿ However, Julie seems to enjoy her friends company and goes along with Ashleigh¿s `over-the-top¿ attitude towards fads anyway. Julie is interesting because she is `normal¿ and `real.¿ She could be any one of the girls I know. For example, she is not perfect and neither is her family. Because of this imperfectness, she has problems that make her believable as a character. Her parents are divorced, her Mom struggles to make ends meet by working two jobs, and Julie worries about her appearance. She feels that she has long arms and legs and that she is too thin. ~Ashleigh, on the other hand, is the very opposite of `down to earth,¿ with her attachment to crazes and willingness to try anything. She does not seem to think anything is wrong with her wild ideas and obsessions. One time she got in line for tickets to a `Wet Blankets¿ concert twelve hours before the sale began. She even brought actual wet blankets to cool off with in the heat. Then, she even handed out wet blankets to others as they arrived. She is a convincing person as she is able to talk Julie into coming along with her on all her adventures. Despite all her `hair brained¿ ideas, Ashleigh comes across as a caring person and a good friend. Julie described one event where, as important as Ashleigh¿s obsessions were, Ashleigh was willing to discontinue one of them because Julie did not seem to like the idea. As a result, this example showed that Julie¿s friendship meant more to Ashleigh than her fads. Despite Ashleigh appearing as very outgoing, she seems `real¿ as well, because she was a mixture of imperfections and good points, as is Julie. ~The two main characters, Ashleigh and Julie, are placed in a setting that is depicted as being a typical high school with events happening before, during, and after school. After Ashleigh reads Jane Austin¿s novel, Pride and Prejudice, she makes it her mission in life to become like the characters in the novel. One of her goals is to meet two boys who resemble men in Pride and Prejudice. This leads the girls to sneak into the Cotillion, a dance, at an all boy¿s prep school 'Forefield Prep School' where they indeed meet two boys, Charles Grandison `Parr,¿ and a boy named Ned. Neither Ashleigh nor Julie realized it, at the beginning, but both of them developed a crush on the same boy, Parr, who seems somewhat shy but intelligent. Julie knows that Ashleigh has a crush on Parr, but Ashleigh seems to believe that Julie likes Ned. Julie does not disclose her secret feelings for Parr. This concealed crush is the conflict of the story. ~The main incident that led up to the resolution of the conflict of crushes between Ashleigh and Julie was their decision to take part in a play at the Forefield Prep School where interesting events take place. The most significant occurrence was when the main female character in the play 'Yo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    Polly Shulman's Enthusiasm for Jane Austen is Infectious

    I had a blast reading Polly Shulman¿s novel Enthusiasm, her homage to Jane Austen¿s Pride and Prejudice! It had been released in 2006 and was on my `to read¿ list for quite some time until I felt the need for something summerish and light to read. Since it is classified as a young adult novel for grades 7-10, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by a less than sparkling plot and characterizations. My assumptions were so wrong! Totally! It is quite amazing to think that this is Shulman¿s first novel! If you check out her picture on her web site she looks barley old enough to be `out¿ in society!. Educated at Yale Univeristy as a mathematician, she obviously possesses both left and right brain skills! This writer is pea green with envy and is in total awe of this level of talent in one so young. Like Jane Austen, Shulman is all about language, social observation and characterization. It is easy to see why Austen is one of her favorite authors and how she inspired her writing. The book¿s auspicious opening quote, ¿There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast¿ sets the tone of Austen-esque language throughout the novel that is respectful but not mimicy to Austen¿s prose. The narrative is told from the perspective of fifteen-year old Julie, whose best friend since grade school is Ashleigh, an `enthusiast¿. From Harriet the Spy to candy-making to military strategy, Julie never knows what or when the next craze will over-take her friend, but she is certain to be pulled into it. Now, her latest inspiration is also Julie¿s passion, Jane Austen¿s novel Pride and Prejudice. However, Ashleigh¿s new possession of Regency manners and decorum mortify her conservative friend. Not only do they include speaking in Austenese, but wearing Regency attire to school, learning to country dance like her idols Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and ultimately, the ardent pursuit of her own true love. Ashleigh¿s latest hair-brain scheme is to find their Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley by crashing a boy¿s prep school dance! Knowing Austen¿s world through her novels and movie adaptations was helpful, but not a prerequisite to enjoying this delightful novel. By following Julie¿s 21st-century hardships, anxieties, mix-ups, and social blunderings we see that they are interchangeable with any 19th-century Regency Miss¿ life ¿ for what young lady of any era does not wish, hope, and dream that a young gentleman will notice her, and return her affections? posted by Laurel Ann, Austenprose

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    Fast Teen

    I just loved this book. It helped that I had read the book and seen the movie of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejidece. I just loved this book and couldn't put it down.

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