By the Book: A Book Club Recommendation!

By the Book: A Book Club Recommendation!

by Julia Sonneborn

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501175183
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 94,002
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Julia Sonneborn is an English professor and a Los Angeles native. After heading east for college and graduate school, she hightailed it back to California, where she now lives with her husband, two kids, two cats, and a dog. When she’s not reading, writing, or talking about books, she enjoys trying new restaurants, reading online gossip blogs, and throwing dinner parties. She is the author of By the Book.

Read an Excerpt

By the Book

“WHAT TIME’S YOUR CLASS, Anne?” my best friend and fellow English professor Larry asked. He was standing at the door to my office in his pressed shirt and tortoiseshell glasses, his balding head shaved close and his hand clutching an interoffice mail envelope.

“In fifteen minutes,” I said, scrolling through my backlog of student e-mails. “Ugh, listen to this one.” I read aloud: “ ‘Hey, Prof! It’s Mike. I’m going to miss class today because I’m stuck at Burning Man and can’t get a ride back until tomorrow. See you Wednesday!’ I mean, can you believe it? Burning Man? Why not just say you’re sick?”

“At least he’s being honest,” Larry said. “I mean, I wish I were at Burning Man.”

“DELETE,” I said. “God, why don’t they make kids take a class on e-mail etiquette during freshman orientation? You know, like address your professors by their full title, not ‘Prof’ or ‘Yo.’ ”

“I once got an e-mail from a student that began with ‘What up, Lar?’ I have to admit, I was a bit charmed.”

“Hmph,” I said. “I’d kill my students if they tried to call me Anne.”

Larry was a Henry James scholar. He wore cashmere sweaters and tweed jackets and shoes custom-made by John Lobb. You know how people start to look a lot like their dogs? Well, professors start to look a lot like their subjects.

“Your office is looking . . . disheveled,” Larry said, eyeing my piles of library books, the empty Starbucks cups littering my desk, the academic journals I subscribed to but never read, instead using them as a doorstop. He walked over to my desk and picked up my broken wall clock, which was lying facedown on a stack of papers.

“What happened here?” he asked.

“It needs a new battery,” I said without looking away from my computer screen. “I just haven’t gotten around to it.”

“This clock has been lying here for at least six months,” Larry said. “No wonder you’re always running late! How do you know what time it is?”

“I have my phone,” I said. “Clocks are obsolete.”

“Preposterous!” Larry said. He always wore an elegant watch with an alligator-skin band, passed down from his grandfather. He disappeared from my office, carrying the clock. A few minutes later, he reappeared, fiddling with the clock hands.

“I’m setting your clock five minutes ahead,” he announced. “By my calculation, you should be in class right now.”

“Wait, what? Really?” I yelled, jumping up from my chair and spilling my coffee onto the keyboard. “Where are my lesson plans? Where’s my book?” I rifled through my desk, looking for napkins and cursing.

Larry picked up my dog-eared copy of Middlemarch, its cover stapled on, its pages bristling with Post-it notes. “Is this what you’re looking for?” he said drily.

“That’s it!” I said, snatching it from him. I threw it into my book bag, scrambling around the outside pouch to make sure I had dry-erase markers, my lipstick, a pen.

“I don’t know how you make your students read that book,” Larry said. “It’s one thousand pages of pedantic moralizing.”

“I don’t know how you can read Henry James,” I retorted. “What was it that Twain said? ‘Once you’ve put down a James novel, you can’t pick it back up again’?”

“Twain was a philistine,” Larry said, unperturbed. He handed me a lint brush. “You have cat hair all over your skirt.”

“Ugh, I need to take Jellyby to the groomer. She’s shedding like crazy.”

“Another lion cut? Don’t you think that’s a little undignified? She’s a house cat, not a beast in the jungle.”

“Har-har,” I said. I dove under my desk to find my heels, which I’d kicked off as soon as I’d arrived in my office that morning. “Will I see you after class?”

“I have my shrink appointment now, but yes, I’ll see you later—you’ll be at the reception for our new president, yes?”

“We have a new president?” I asked, shoving my feet into my heels. Our previous president, a Civil War historian, had retired only a few months earlier due to health issues.

“He was hired over the summer! Didn’t you see the e-mail? Or did you delete it, like Mr. Burning Man’s missive?”

“I don’t check my school e-mail over the summer,” I said. “Who is it? Oh, wait—let me guess. I bet it’s an MBA who wants to raise money for a new stadium.”

“No, this guy actually sounds interesting,” Larry said, hanging my clock on the wall. He stood back for a minute, making sure it was straight. “He majored in English as an undergrad, you know. In fact, you might have known him—he went to Princeton, too.”

“Really? I’m sure he must have been years ahead of me.” I slung my book bag around my shoulder and headed to the door.

“Actually, he’s around our age,” Larry said. “Fortyish.”

“I’m thirty-two,” I snapped. “What’s his name?”

“Adam,” Larry said. “Adam Martinez.”

“Wait, are you sure that’s his name?”

“Yes, why? You recognize it?”

“Maybe,” I said. “But it can’t be the same guy. It’s a common name, right?”

“I’m late for my appointment, and you, my dear, are late for your class,” Larry said, pushing me down the hall. “Oscar Wilde may have always been late on principle, but you don’t have tenure yet!”

*

I RACED ACROSS CAMPUS, my heels punching holes in the lawn. I hated wearing heels, but since I was barely five foot two, I needed all the help I could get. As I walked, I applied my lipstick and tried to smooth down my hair. I breathed into my palm and sniffed. Not great, but not rancid.

The campus smelled like freshly mown grass. All around the quad, students were sunbathing or playing Frisbee or making out. It was September at Fairfax, a small liberal arts college tucked into the San Bernardino foothills. The town reminded me of an East Coast college town, just transplanted to Southern California. A two-block Main Street held a constantly changing array of frozen yogurt shops, pizza places, and clothing boutiques. There were picturesque Craftsman-style bungalows on streets named after Ivy League and Seven Sisters colleges—Harvard Street, Cornell Place, Wellesley Road. There was even collegiate Gothic architecture. One of the college’s early benefactors, a railroad tycoon, had donated his fortune to the school under the stipulation that all campus buildings be modeled after his alma mater, Yale. If it weren’t for the palm trees on the edge of campus, you would think you were in the middle of Connecticut.

Adam Martinez. It couldn’t be him, I thought as I cut across the quad. I pulled out my phone and tried to search through my inbox for the invitation to the candidate reception. I had 14,335 messages in my account. Apparently, I hadn’t deleted quite enough e-mail. I searched for “Adam Martinez” and came up empty. Maybe it had gone into my spam folder. Or maybe Larry had just gotten the name wrong.

I reached my classroom just as the campus clock tower struck ten. There were maybe twenty-five students in the class, minus one or two or five who were stuck at Burning Man or “sick” or hungover. As I’d expected, most of my students were women. The class was “Introduction to the Nineteenth-Century British Novel,” and it was full of wide-eyed English majors who had read too much Austen and Brontë when they were in middle and high school. I could spot them a mile away because I used to be one of them—young, mousy, and naive enough to believe Darcys and Rochesters existed. My job, I often told myself, was to force my students to look at the novels critically, analytically. These novels weren’t about love. They were about money, and power, and imperialism, and real estate. At least that’s what I said to them, even though, deep down, I was as big of a sucker for the romance as they were.

I’d assigned the first few chapters of Middlemarch to kick off the class, but it was pretty clear that many of the students hadn’t finished the reading. I knew what they were thinking: Casaubon was a loser, and Dorothea was an idiot, and God, how annoying was it that the Victorians were paid by the word? I could just imagine my students furtively texting each other beneath their desks:

Student 1: “u read the book?”

Student 2: “TL; DR.”

Besides that, school had just started, so we were still in “shopping week,” that period of free choice and zero commitment that students loved and professors resented. Most of my students were still in vacation mode, relaxed and giddy at reuniting with their friends after the summer.

I briefly lectured, then broke the class up in smaller groups and had them analyze passages.

“Don’t just give me a plot summary of the passage,” I told them. “Trust me—I’ve read the book.” The class snickered. “Slow down and look more closely at the language. Why does Eliot make certain word choices? What metaphors does she use and why?”

As I walked around the classroom, dipping in and out of group discussions, I scolded myself for being so distracted. I was as bad as my students, counting down the minutes until class was over, desperate to check my phone to see if Larry had texted or e-mailed me. A student raised her hand and I hurried over, grateful for the interruption.

*

ON MY WAY TO my next class, I checked my phone again. Larry had forwarded me the message with the reception info. I scrolled through the event details, and there he was. The new president was named Adam Martinez, and he had previously been provost at the University of Houston.

It can’t be, I thought, stopping dead in the middle of the quad. Hands shaking, I clicked on the attachment. Slowly, Adam Martinez’s CV downloaded onto my phone. I frantically scanned his work history. He’d been provost at the University of Houston for three years. Before that, he’d served as dean of their law school. Before that, he’d worked in something called “private equity.” And before that, he’d worked as an in-house counsel for a Wall Street bank. I searched for his degrees. JD/MBA from Columbia University. Bachelor’s in English from Princeton.

I suddenly felt faint. My former fiancé was my new boss.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for By the Book includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Anne Corey, an English professor in California, is determined to achieve the coveted tenure track at her liberal arts college, Fairfax. But she’s having trouble securing the book deal she needs signed before her contract is up. Then Adam Martinez—her ex-fiancé from her days at Princeton—shows up as Fairfax’s new president.

Anne keeps herself distracted with her book, her aging father, and a romance developing with Fairfax’s new writer-in-residence. But as the school year advances, Anne finds herself further entangled with Adam and other old friends from her college years. She is constantly questioning the choices she’s made since her broken engagement. She’s always done what’s best for her career, but is this a second chance at love? This is a modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion, and the idea that the demons of our past may not turn out not to be so bad, after all.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The first man Anne introduces us to is Larry, who provides much of the comic relief in this novel. What else does he provide for Anne? How do his relationships connect her with other people? She doesn’t think the acknowledgement to him in her book captures their relationship. Do you agree?

2. Dr. Russell forces Anne to evaluate her post-grad options. She bluntly states, “When I think of the advantages women of your generation have had . . . I don’t understand why you would throw all of it away.” What hardships did women Dr. Russell’s age face when trying to have a professional career? What problems have women of later generations faced? Has having had more options led to greater happiness?

3. Because Adam agrees with Dr. Russell (that Anne should go to Yale), Anne has a moment where she believes “I could have a fulfilling professional life and a fulfilling personal life. I could have it all.” Why doesn’t it turn out that way? How much responsibility lies with Adam? With Anne? What family and social pressures were they each dealing with?

4. Anne feels her father treated Adam poorly and looked down upon her decision to acquire a PhD and so much student debt. But by his funeral she chooses to read Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays.” Why do you think Anne chose this poem? How has her view of her father changed over the course of his illness?

5. At the beginning of the book Anne feels that her sister, Lauren, also looks down upon her lack of financial security. As their father grows ill and dies, does the dynamic of the sisters’ relationship change? Why do you think sisters have such a natural inclination to compare and compete with each other?

6. Anne reconnects with Bex at Lauren’s book club. That night Anne tells her she could have been a great professor. While she means it as a compliment, she realizes Bex thinks she’s judging her for deferring to her husband’s career. Why do women do this to themselves? And why are there some women who would judge Bex? Is there any way to have it all?

7. Anne’s book is an academic novel, but even her publisher notes it ties in with the current popularity of authors like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. Why do you think their novels have had such staying power?

8. Anne tries to teach her students that nineteenth-century novels about marriage “weren’t about love. They were about money, and power, and imperialism, and real estate.” While this makes a strong academic argument, do you think Anne truly believes it? Why is her favorite novel still Persuasion?

9. Anne has never read Rick’s books, so at first, she doesn’t believe the accusations of plagiarism. Then she stays with him because she’s worried for his mental health. But after she speaks to Emily, she cuts off all communication with Rick, going so far as to get a restraining order. What did you think of Anne’s relationship with Rick prior to the plagiarism scandal? How do you feel about how Anne handled the end of their relationship? How did it compare to her break-up with Adam?

10. Anne sees Emily as the “younger, better, more hopeful version of myself,” and feels terrible for introducing her to Rick. Should Anne feel so guilty? Is there any way for a college-aged woman to see relationships in the same light as a thirtysomething woman?

11. The author uses the barrage of email Anne receives to give us insight into both Anne’s professional and personal life. Did you enjoy the switch from Anne’s direct narration? What significance does it take on given that Anne studies authors to whom letter writing was so important?

12. At graduation, Larry and Anne discuss how men handle break-ups verses women. Anne admits that the way she handles them is for self-preservation. Why was it so important that she admit this to herself? That she say it aloud?

13. Adam’s letter to Anne is a direct reference to Persuasion. But his two proposals to Anne are unique to this book. How to they compare to each other? Did you enjoy the first, second, or both?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. By the Book is based on Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. While not Austen’s most well-known work, it is a fun read if your group wants to directly compare and contrast the two novels. Make it a proper British evening with tea, scones, finger sandwiches, and “biscuits,” as the English like to call cookies. Some interesting points of comparison are how and why Sonneborn updated the Musgrove family from Persuasion into several different characters for By the Book. And who is worse—Mr. Elliot or Rick—may lead to some very personal takes on exes!

2. Jack is starring in the film Jane Vampire, a nod to the current trend of taking classic literature into the zombie and vampire genres. Even without these genre-specific reboots, modern adaptations are tremendously popular. Clueless was a high school take on Emma. Bride and Prejudice is a Bollywood take on Pride and Prejudice, while Bridget Jones’s Diary is a modern British update of the same story. Austenland imagines a modern-day Jane Austen, while Becoming Jane is a loose biopic of the author. How many members in your group have seen these film adaptations? Is there a favorite you would like to watch together?

3. The night of the gala Larry recites “The Wild Swans at Coole,” which is available to read at:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43288/the-wild-swans-at-coole.

Read the poem and discuss how its themes tie into the themes of this novel. That night, Larry tells Anne “Your heart’s grown old . . . So has mine.” Is that true? What kind of emotional growth does each character experience from the gala to graduation?

4. Anne says the hardest part of her book to write was the acknowledgements. If you had the opportunity to thank the people in your life, who would you choose and why? Have your group try writing your own book club acknowledgments!

Customer Reviews

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By the Book: A Book Club Recommendation! 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What I liked about this book: I am sure the author, Julie Sonneborn, brought a lot of her own knowledge of college life and the long road to took to get to her position as far as student debt and hours spent studying. Therefore, I felt that the setting and character background was very realistic. Anne Corey and Larry, two of the main characters, are well fleshed out and their conversations were often amusing; they added a light touch to the book. I also enjoyed the emails that Anne received from people around the college. What I didn't like: I hoped this would be a break for me from the cursing and sex that saturates so many books these days. Having said that, I have to add that this story isn’t exactly squeaky clean: I came across the f word, and while there weren’t any moment-by-moment sex scenes, Anne hopped in bed with an author on what appeared to be their second date and Larry started an affair with an male actor who had a wife. I haven’t read a lot of Austen’s works, but I feel fairly certain that this kind of material does not come up in any of them. Close to the mid point, I felt I really wasn't that into the book, so I did not finish reading it. My review is based on the first half of the book
Anonymous 11 months ago
In the author's acknowledgements, she describes this book as a love letter to book letters. She's right, and it's also a gorgeous love letter to romance lovers. This book is charming, hysterical, emotion-provoking (but not TOO MUCH), and inspiring. A modern day "Persuasion", this "By the Book" follows Anne Corey, an English professor in a small town college, struggling to get a book published to guarantee her tenure track. She struggles financially, burdened by student loans and small salary. Her overdue library book balance is approaching a thousand dollars. I love her. She's me. Anne also struggles personally, surrounding herself with the greatest literary love stories of all time, but not finding true love herself. Her college has hired a new president, and it's her ex-fiance, Adam. Of course, this brings up all sorts of feelings from her past. She struggles with Adam's presence while also struggling with an ailing father and an overbearing, judgmental, smug, married-rich sister. Her best friend is Larry, an incredibly supportive colleague. He's a gay man, having an affair with a very famous, but closeted, man, and Larry provides both Anne and the reader much-appreciated levity throughout the book. Anne meets a charming writer who sweeps her off her feet, and she buries herself in that relationship to escape the feelings she doesn't want to allow to herself to feel. Is this man the one? Are there red flags that Anne ignores in the name of romance? This book was incredible. The college atmosphere provides the reader a cozy escape from the real world. Anne's professional struggles are relatable, as are her family issues. I can relate to her financial woes and her ailing father storylines far more than I wish I did. And the romance? Absolutely realistic. Dare I say it? "By the Book" is similar to Bridget Jones's Diary in plot, as both are modern versions of "Persuasion", but "By the Book" is more cerebral and more emotionally raw at times. I was weeping happy tears at the end of the book, and I clapped it shut with frenzied appreciation. Thank you to Bookishfirst and the author for this ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.
Kainesmama More than 1 year ago
Anne Corey is about as close to being an every woman as you can get. She's a single woman, in her thirties, professional with her job security threatened. She's up against the "publish or perish" dictum of professorial life. If she doesn't get a book contract, she doesn't get tenure and she will have to find a new college to teach at. With this pressure on her, the man she was engaged to marry but left to pursue a PhD has become the president of the college she teaches at. She's positive he hates her for breaking the engagement. What we have here is a charming second chance at love romance, without most of the romancing we would get in other books. I liked that. Anne even has another man in her life, a man who turns out to be a stinker. How she navigates getting tenure, publishing her book, untangling the lies her new man tells her and arriving at her happy ending makes for a very pleasant read. I received my copy of this book from BookishFirst.
witkneey01 More than 1 year ago
I must first confess, that I have never read Jane Austen's Persuasion. When I realized the novel was based on this well loved novel I was excited to give it a go. But when I saw some negative reviews for this book I was nervous to pick it up. However, maybe because I had never read Jane's original novel, I really loved this book! I thought it was delightful and heartwarming. The characters felt realistic and I was invested in Anne's story. I can understand that some may not like this sort of fluffy, quick read, but for me it was pretty perfect. If you are looking for a light, fun read I would highly recommend this book. And because I liked it so much, I may just have to pick up Persuasion later this year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a self proclaimed Jane Austen nerd, I loved this book. One of the very best modern retellings of Persuasion.
Dana Blazsek More than 1 year ago
4 Stars: I have never read Persuasion (ducks as books are thrown). I have read very few classics and can’t seem to ever get into them. So when I heard this was a retelling of Persuasion I just shrugged. I don’t know if that made me enjoy the book more because my expectations were different than Persuasion fans. But I enjoyed this book. It was light. It was fluffy. It was cute. But not full of ridiculous romantic gestures. I liked the book for what it was supposed to be– fun and more like a romcom than serious literary fiction. I enjoyed the characters and Anne is a woman I could be friends with. This book gave a great look into what it is like trying to become published and receiving tenure as a professor. For me, that made the novel even better. By the Book, to me, seems like a book lovers book as well. Just the reference to many “literary things” made me smile. Would recommend for those who want a fun read!
Sabrina207425 More than 1 year ago
As a book-lover who majored in English and considered going down the path to becoming a professor, I loved everything about this book- from the endearingly charming characters to the minutia of describing book spines and antique manuscripts. By the Book takes place over the course of one school year at Fairfax College, where Anne Corey, is currently a professor. To keep her position and gain tenure, she has to get her manuscript, Ivory Tower: Nineteenth Century Women Writers and the Literary Imagination, published. Despite the threat of losing her position and drowning in student debt, I was proud of Anne for not being willing to rewrite her book to include men or not have all three Bronte sisters because they were redundant (really!?). She was devoted to the classics and I found myself wishing I had taken a literature class with her myself. During this tumultuous year, she is caring for her ailing father, her first love appears as the new President of Fairfax, and, all the while, her sister is passive aggressively judging her for her academically inclined life choices. This is a love story on many levels. The characters learn to love themselves, depend on unflappable friends and familial love, realize that love isn’t always enough, endure loss and find comfort in others, and learn that maybe it’s never too late for a second chance. If life had allowed it, I would have read this book in one sitting.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
For me, this was an okay read. I could definitely tell it was a first book when reading it. I liked the characters and their development for the most part. As for the plot. It seemed to jump around at times. The ending seemed forced and not really thought out or "told out". I absolutely loved the cover which was my main draw. Unfortunately, it still is. Thanks to Gallery, Threshold and Pocket Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Taylor Collier More than 1 year ago
The story follows Anne Corey, an English professor at a liberal arts college in California. Anne doesn't have it all, but she is thankful for what she does have and strives to make the best of her life. When we meet Anne, she is single and struggling to find a publisher to accept her book. If it isn't published soon, she will lose her chance for tenure. Her father is showing signs of dementia and her wealthy, has-it-all sister can barely contain her distaste for Anne's career and life path. Basically, you just really want something good to come Anne's way. Enter her ex-fiance from 10 years prior...as her new boss. He's just secured a position as the College President, kind of a big deal. Anne chooses to avoid her ex at all costs, Also enter an attractive writer who's the hottest thing in the publishing world right now, who also seems to have the hots for Anne. You get where this is going, but it was a cute ride to get there. With some bumps in the road, and a hilarious side-story from her gay best friend, By The Book was just what I needed after some heavy reading. Heart-warming and sweet, funny and relatable, this is a great book to snatch up when you're in the mood for a lighthearted, quick read. A couple of things that irked me about the book..The ending felt a bit rushed. It was still sweet, but I felt like it should have been given more pages for the story to play out. While we expect reads of this sort to tie up with a pretty bow, I wish this ending was given more attention. Throughout the book, the story seemed a bit choppy..instead of a new chapter, months would pass in a paragraph and it was a bit disorienting. Also with the different story-lines, there was a lot of potential for more details that would have really taken the whole book up a couple of notches. It was very straightforward and surface-level. In my opinion, the characters could have also had a bit more depth, I found it difficult to establish an emotional connection. Overall, I give By The Book 3 stars! It was quick and quirky and had me laughing out loud a couple of times. Definitely a good read if you're looking for something to break up some of your heavier reads. Again, By The Book is out TODAY so buy your copy here! I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley for review. Thank you for allowing me early access to the beautiful book for my honest review.
mkdmom More than 1 year ago
A fun, modern day take on Jane Austen's Persuasion. This was a good, easy read that had some genuinely witty moments (particularly the emails from Jack Lindsey, the actor). I especially enjoyed the character of Larry, Anne's best friend. As someone who's always enjoyed reading and studying literature, I really appreciated the character of Anne and the Fairfax college setting. I liked seeing the behind-the-scenes view of how a college operates on an administrative level. Although it had a predictable ending, getting there was an enjoyable read. I liked how the author used emails at the end of some chapters to advance the story and show us a different perspective other than Anne's. The story was enjoyable especially for Jane Austen fans
mkdmom More than 1 year ago
A fun, modern day take on Jane Austen's Persuasion. This was a good, easy read that had some genuinely witty moments (particularly the emails from Jack Lindsey, the actor). I especially enjoyed the character of Larry, Anne's best friend. As someone who's always enjoyed reading and studying literature, I really appreciated the character of Anne and the Fairfax college setting. I liked seeing the behind-the-scenes view of how a college operates on an administrative level. Although it had a predictable ending, getting there was an enjoyable read. I liked how the author used emails at the end of some chapters to advance the story and show us a different perspective other than Anne's. The story was enjoyable especially for Jane Austen fans
CoffeeAndAStory More than 1 year ago
By The Book by Julia Sonneborn is a retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen. Since I've never read Persuasion, I didn't have any expectations before reading this book. Sometimes I think that's better for a retelling, otherwise you just tend to compare and contrast the whole time you're reading. I needed to read something light and this book did the trick. Although the plot was fairly predictable, I enjoyed going on the ride with Anne, the main character. Anne is independent, intelligent, and lonely which made her a well-rounded character with vulnerabilities and strength. That combination is rare to find in leading female characters in books featuring romance. Speaking of the romance, I wish this book had more of it. In a typical Jane Austen style though, there is more broken hearts and longing. It was fun to read a story with a college professor as the protagonist and I adored her best friend Larry. I liked him even better than Anne. He provides the comedic relief while also showing his vulnerabilities. This book has made me want to pick up Persuasion now. I'd recommend this book if you like adult contemporary reads and/or absolutely adore large libraries. 3/5 stars.
emabubby More than 1 year ago
By the Book is supposed to be a modern version of Jane Austen's Persuasion. It is a delightful tale of love and regret. Anne Corey is an English Professor at a small Liberal Arts college in Southern California. Anne's job depends on her getting tenure and to obtain tenure she needs to complete her book and submitted it to a publisher to be printed. After far too many rejections Anne is desperately afraid she will lose the job that she loves. To add to her anxiety her ex-fiancé Adam Martinez has just been appointed as President of her college. If this isn't enough to upset the apple cart the author adds to the mix renowned author, Richard (Rick) Chasen, who is both handsome and charismatic and is very interested in courting Anne. Though Anne is still very much in love with Adam she thinks he no longer cares about her. Feeling that her chances of renewing her relationship with Adam are hopeless she turns to Rick instead. The author writing technique is superlative. I love the way she has added a number of emails at the end of many of her chapters. Most of the emails are quite funny and definitely add to the story. Ms. Sonneborn character development is especially well done. I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more of her books in the future. I received this advanced copy and I am freely posting this fair and balanced review
WhatsBeyondForks More than 1 year ago
By the Book by Julia Sonneborn is a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. I've never read Persuasion, so I can't really tell you how it compares. Anne's a pretty smart lady, so I did't expect her to fall so quickly for a guy who was obviously not on the up and up from the start. He just reeked of smarmy-ness. I'm not sure if he was to blame, (He kind of put a bad taste in my mouth from the beginning) but I also didn't feel consistent chemistry between her and Adam. Adam was always with another woman. Anne was with Rick. Larry, Anne's best friend, has his own drama going on. So, Anne and Adam's interactions drowned out a little in between everything else going one. Larry was a hoot though. I don't know that his whole romance did much for the story, but he was quite entertaining on his own. All in all, this was a cute story with some cute characters. The ARC of By the Book was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.
JenBibi23 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was the age old tale of a lost flame and what happens when adults assume things and do not communicate effectively. So many relationship delays, missed connections, and hurt feelings can be avoided with communication. Girl loves boy, leaves boy, runs back into boy, just as a new boy (who know know if probably too good to be true) comes into the picture. Eventual the new boy is found out to be the scoundrel he is, and girl gets the first boy, now a man, and we all live happily ever after. Add in a university, books, and parties, and we have a winning book! Cute dogs always help too! I thought the book's timing was perfection! I gobbled the book up in no time and found myself thinking about it during work, staring at the clock to make it go faster so I could go home and read. I also think the book was very realistic. Nothing felt forced or unbelievable for all the characters involved, even when you could see where it was going as the reader. A few times I wanted to smack Anne for being blind or silly, but it's usually easier to see a scoundrel when you are on the outside of the relationship.
Barb-TRC More than 1 year ago
By the Book by Julia Sonneborn is a standalone novel that is a modern day retelling on Jane Austin’s ‘Persuasion’. Anne Corey, our heroine, is a 32 year old English professor at Fairfax liberal arts college; who is also in the midst of writing a book. During the storyline, we get to see many of the reject letters Anne receives from publishers, and it is important for her to sell her book to gain a permanent tenure with the school. Anne is shocked to learn that her ex-fiancé, Adam Martinez is now coming on board to the college as the new President. She hasn’t seen Adam in 13 years, and it is at the reception for the new president that they come face to face. Adam is very pleasant to Anne, but she does her best to welcome him to Fairfax, and keep her distance. Anne meets Rick, a famous novelist, who has become a resident in the college in between his books. Rick and Anne become friends, and eventually lovers. Rick does not like Adam, having had a bad experience with him at another school. He tells Anne all about the things Adam did, and Anne faithfully believes him. But things are not as they seem. When Anne’s father gets ill, it is Adam who will be around to help her, and a friendship resumes, though neither want anything more. But when Rick is never around when she needs hi m, and Adam is, Anne will begin to open her eyes. Rick turned out not to be what she thought, and his career takes a dive when truths are revealed about him. I thought all the characters in this book were all fun and relatable. Anne was very well written by Sonneborn, and you couldn’t help but like her. Her best friend at the college, Larry was a riot; and a good loyal friend to Anne. Adam proved to be the right man for Anne, but it took almost to the end for both of them to reveal their true feelings. By the Book was a sweet story, based on similarities of Austen’s Persuasion. I enjoyed the book, though it was a bit slow early on. I would have liked to see more of Anne and Adam, as not much in the romantic sense was done. Though I did love the ending, which was very sweet.
DebSmouse More than 1 year ago
By the Book was just the lighthearted book I needed for a snowy day of reading by the fire. Racing against the clock to get tenured at the college in which she teaches, Anne Corey is a literature professor devoted to classic literature. When she discovers that the new president of the university is her former fiancée, she can’t help but feel distressed. Seeing him, Adam, brings up all the emotions: the desire to be loved, to follow your dreams (at what cost?), and the pain of loss. Anne perks up a bit when the sexy adventurer – and prize-winning author, Rick, becomes a writer in residence and lavishes his attention on Anne. To bring reality to the story, there is the family challenge of Anne’s father’s declining health and dementia along with the ins and outs of managing life, students, and the rigors of academia. My favorite relationship for Anne, though, is her best friend Larry. Another literature professor, Larry and Anne’s friendship reminds me why our friends are sometimes our family. This book had just enough drama and just enough romance to be, as Goldilocks might say: Just Right. A debut novel by Julia Sonneborn, I’ll be adding her to my authors to watch list! A delightful read for a cozy weekend, a long flight, or the beach. PS - I’ll confess: I’ve never read Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the book in which By the Book is loosely based on so I can’t speak to how she manages the re-telling. Note: I read this book thanks to Net Galley, Gallery Books, and author Julia Sonneborn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By the Book is a modern re-telling of Austen’s Persuasion about a young English professor and her lost love. Anne Corey has a tenuous position at Fairfax College, hinging on the publication of her first book. She’s juggling student loan debt, struggling to get her book published, caring for an ailing elderly father, dealing with an overly judgmental older sister and, of course, the pressure of being a single 30-something woman amongst her peers. She gets a blast from the past when her ex-fiance, Adam Martinez, shows up to assume the position of new president at Fairfax. Anne tries to ignore her buried feelings and regret for Adam throughout the school year, even getting involved with the new heartthrob writer-in-residence at the college. But Anne’s responsibilities and distractions quickly begin to weigh on her and she finds herself unable to put her feelings to rest for her lost love. This is a feel good romance story, plain and simple. A great book to get lost in when you are looking for something good in the world. This is not a genre that I often read, but I wanted to check this one out because I love any book that is described as being a book for book lovers. I wasn’t disappointed with this one! Anne’s love for reading really shines through in this book and I love the intimate look we get at her life and struggles towards becoming a published English professor. Anne’s character was charming and relatable. She was flawed but in a cute and quirky way, rather than an annoyingly “I don’t know why everyone likes me because I’m just so inept” kind of way! I particularly liked the way the author utilized the email format at the ends of chapters to portray certain frustrations and events in Anne’s life, like her book proposal rejections. It was a creative way for her to show Anne’s frustration and not just have the character continuously be discussing it. However, I did feel like I ended up enjoying the character of Larry, Anne’s best friend, much better than any of the other characters! He was charming and quirky, and caused me to be more invested in what he had going on than Anne’s problems! Overall I think this was a great feel-good romance novel about lost love, as well as being a nod to the love of reading itself. Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Parteepink More than 1 year ago
First I will state that I cannot believe this is a debut novel. I was drawn to this novel first by the cover, I mean seriously how cute is it?? Second, the synopsis is written perfectly to attract any book lover. This novel has it all; a beautiful package, sweet romance, subtle scandals, a little drama, and a happily ever after. Oh, and don't forget the literary references!! Ms. Sonneborn references Jane Austin to Harry Potter, which I actually squeed over!! With that, I have to say, I totally pictured Rick to be modeled after Gilderoy Lockhart, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (I must make sure I give credit there, wink) This novel is perfect for those who enjoy "Clean" Romances and Chick Lit. I have already recommended it to several friends. Had I know how great it was going to be, I would have saved it for my book club group.
Storm992472 More than 1 year ago
I received this book from Bookish First I picked it because I absolutely fell in love with the cover, and the title was interesting. This is a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, which I have never read so I have nothing to compare the two books and judge by. I found this book to be smart, funny, sweet and very predictable. With that said I totally enjoyed it and found myself both laughing and crying while reading it. Who wouldn't want the handsome Adam and to have a friend like Larry would be great also. It was one of those books once you started you couldn't put it down until you were done. I was well entertained. The ending was happy tears perfect If you like light reads this is the book for you.
DoveArt More than 1 year ago
This book started strong, dipped in the middle, and sought redemption with a charming ending. At the beginning I was rooting for the protagonist, Anne, but as the plot moved along, I felt frustrated with her point of view and choices. She felt like a friend that you like less and less the more you get to know her. She was surprisingly insecure and easily manipulated and seemed to constantly need external validation. I was hard to reconcile these traits in an accomplished woman with a PhD. She seemed to view her friends and family in stereotypical ways: the gossipy secretary, the judgy sister with her obnoxious children, the mindless stay-at-home moms, the clueless students. And, of course she has a trusty sidekick: the gay best friend. Her opinions and feelings seemed to fluctuate easily, dictated by the last person to speak with her. I enjoyed Adam, and wished for him a better, stronger, more coherent female counterpart. Anne received an ending straight out of a romance novel, but it was not the ending she would have deserved in real life.
etoile1996 More than 1 year ago
it's no secret that i love jane austen. and i know i've previously expressed my love for pride & prejudice and pride & prejudice retellings. but did you know that i feel the same way about persuasion? i've re-read jane's entire catalogue many times, but the two that get the most love from me are pride & prejudice and persuasion. i love anne elliott. i love elizabeth bennett. both are very different leading ladies. i love that about them. it's hard for me to pick a favorite between these two. they each embody a different trope that i am an acknowledged sucker for: enemies-to-lovers (pride & prejudice) and second-chance-at-love (persuasion). anyway, that very long intro basically explains why i am predisposed to love by the book, a retelling of persuasion. it resettles bath society on a small university campus. all the characters have modern equivalents, even though the story is created and told in a way that pays homage but does not carbon copy the original. and i loved it. it hit all the right notes. it made me want to pick up the original again, but only because i have such love and affection for the story. not because i needed a palate cleanser. one of my favorite modern touches to the story, involves anne corey, our heroine, trying to get her research published. the fictional query letters and rejection notices were pitch perfect. i mean i probably enjoyed this more than the average reader might because i work in publishing, but whatever, it worked for me. **by the book will publish on february 6, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/gallery, threshold, pocket books (gallery books) in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A light, modern take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. A sweet look on second chances and taking the chance for happiness. The life of a college professor is intertwined with an aging parent, nephews, her best friend Larry and a campus romance. Her struggles with gaining tenure and her college ex appearing keeps the story moving. Anne balances family, work, and life emotions trying for a delicate balance we would all love to have in our own lives. I loved all of this part of the story, the plot and struggles worked well. I didn’t connect with Anne that well though because she spoke like a teenager rather than a professor. Also the romance was hard to get behind... they hadn’t seen each other for 13 years. A book to enjoy on these winter nights! Thanks to Bookish First for the opportunity to read the book.
AmberK1120 More than 1 year ago
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This Book was everything I wanted. It was a perfect blend of women’s fiction, books, and romance. And it was funny and relatable. So basically, it was a slam dunk. Anne was so cute and quirky in her ways and naïveté, she really found a place in my heart. (So cheesy, but so true.) And did I mention her love of books? *swoon* The rest of the cast was pretty stellar, too. They all had really distinct personalities, which always makes for a fun read, and so many of them were booknerds! I’ve already recommended this book to a bunch of people, and now I’m recommending it to you. It’s going to make you feel all warm and happy, it’s going to make you laugh, and maybe even cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a huge fan of Jane Austen, I was very curious about this book, added to that the cover is lovely! I'm happy to say, however, the inside is wonderful too:-) The story follows Anne, a professor who has just learned her ex is her new boss! Anne is eager to achieve tenure, but it's easier said than done and with her ex and first love in her life again, one could forgive her for being a little distracted. Old feeling resurface, but not all of them happy. This book is both thoughtful and clever and I really enjoyed it. It was a little predictable, but that is difficult to avoid in a retelling. In any case, I would recommend it to fans of Austen or just readers looking for some light, intelligent entertainment.