by Polly Shulman


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Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

"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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142409350
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 09/06/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 776,454
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.56(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt


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.


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.

What People are Saying About This

Time Magazine

"Enthusiasm has the makings of an instant classic. "

From the Publisher

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

"Enthusiasm, like Pride and Prejudice, bubbles over with romantic misunderstandings and comic confusion." —New York Times Book Review,an Editors' Choice book

"Enthusiasm has the makings of an instant classic!" —Time magazine

"A fanciful romance . . . delightfully wholesome." —Newsday

*"Wry [and] engaging . . . an impressive first novel."—Booklist, starred review

"A charming romantic comedy!"—SLJ

"Witty exchanges, comic errors and miscommunications that could be taken right out of a Jane Austen novel. Readers [will be] caught up in this debut novel's romantic whimsy and humor."—Publishers Weekly

"Equal parts romance and farce, this novel is an enjoyable read. Julie's wry voice and self-deprecating humor will make the conclusion satisfying."—VOYA


Reading Group Guide

Little-known facts about Enthusiasm and Jane Austen

*Jane Austen’s niece, Anna, wrote a novel called Enthusiasm, which she sent to her aunt. Jane had many encouraging things to say, including suggesting that Anna change the title to Which is the Heroine?

*The character of Charles Grandison Parr—or Parr for Short—was named after Sir Charles Grandison, the hero of Samuel Richardson’s 1753 novel of that name and one of Jane Austen’s favorite literary characters.

*Jane Austen published her novels anonymously, as was the custom of female writers at the time.

*Like many of Austen’s heroines, Jane herself turned down an offer of marriage that would have allowed her to live a more comfortable life and be less dependent on her family. In the end, she never married.

The Life and Legacy of Jane Austen

Jane Austen (1775–1817) lived her entire life in the English countryside with her mother, father, sister, and two brothers. She never married nor ventured far from the confines of her family’s home, yet she wrote some of the most enduring novels of her time, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and Emma.

When Jane Austen penned her first novel in 1789, little did she know that the stories she acted out in her drawing room with her sister and brothers would affect popular culture hundreds of years later. Dozens of movie adaptations of her novels have been made and continue to be popular, starring actors such as Keira Knightley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant. Her writing has inspired other books as well, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Jane Austen Book Club, and Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating.



Polly Shulman has written about edible jellyfish, Egyptian tombs, infinity, blind dates, books, brains, centenarians, circuses, and cinematic versions of Jane Austen novels, for The New York Times, Discover,Newsday, Salon, Slate, Scientific American, Archaeology, and The Village Voice, among others. She edits news stories about fossils, meteors, the ocean, the weather, and the

She is an alumna of Hunter College High School, Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics, and Yale University, where she majored in math. She has never dared to crash a dance, but in tenth grade she did write a proof for math class in the form of a sonnet. She grew up in New York City, where she lives with her husband, Andrew Nahem, and their parakeet, Olive. planets for Science magazine. She collects Victorian jewelry made of human hair, puts cayenne pepper in her chocolate cookies, and reads forgotten books with frontispieces.


  • Why do you think Jane Austen and her books have endured as long as they have? Why do Jane Austen’s stories translate so well into modern stories?
  • Have you ever read any of Jane Austen’s books? If so, what similarities and differences do you see between Austen’s works and Enthusiasm?
  • “There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast.” Do you know/have known an enthusiast? Were you ever one yourself? Although Julie complains about her friend’s enthusiasm, what admirable qualities can be found in Ashleigh’s exuberance?
  • If you could produce a movie based on a Jane Austen story, which would you choose and from what angle would you approach it: Comedy or drama? Present day or historical setting?
  • Have you ever had a crush on the same person as your best friend? If so, what happened?
  • Throughout the story Julie is careful to point out what a good friend Ashleigh is to her. Unfortunately, Ashleigh’s not always a very good listener. At the same time, Julie is keeping secrets from Ashleigh. Could you still say they are great friends? Why or why not?
  • Class was an important issue for people in Jane Austen’s time. In what ways does the issue of class/money come up in Enthusiasm?
  • Do you think Julie handles her relationship with her stepmother well? What could Julie and her stepmother do to improve their relationship?

Customer Reviews

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Enthusiasm 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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?
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anna Pardo More than 1 year ago
I lovelove Love r These types of books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, super cute- a great light read.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I picked up this book because on the cover, Stephanie Meyer, author of Twilight, recommended it. Julia and her best friend, Ashleigh, crash a dance at a boys school, and there Julia meets the boy of her dreams. Unfortunately, her friend feels exactly the same way, so Julia keeps quiet.
nmartone on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Loved it. It started off a bit slow, then took off. Very sweet, very innocent story that makes your heart smile with memories of first loves and crushes. Great book!
JaneB1 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Ashleigh is an enthusiast and her best friend Julia struggles to keep their friendship alive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Novella_vialli More than 1 year ago
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)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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imagine-that More than 1 year ago
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. : )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
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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Jennings More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aceprincessgal More than 1 year ago
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!