By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

Wow, it’s been quiet from this part of the internet, right? Sorry about that. Starting a new job {!!!!} and finding a new home {not so !!!!}, my life has been…messy. It hasn’t been fun. But I’ve managed to make it through a couple of books, so the posts here shouldn’t dry up again. Better planning and working on weekends wouldn’t be too bad, either.

So I decided that today might be a good day to review a book about a character who might have a messier life than me. Also, it’s a retelling of Persuasion, and Jane Austen always makes me feel better.


Title: By The Book {384 pgs.}

Genre: General Fiction

Publication Date: February 6, 2018


Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Persuasion had always been that one Jane Austen book that I could never remember liking. When I went through her books, I would always shake my head at Persuasion, but I never knew why. When I found out about this book, I reread Persuasion and realized that I love it. But now there was a problem: I loved the original so much, and that meant that I probably wouldn’t like any imitators.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found that I adored By the Book.

Poor Anne. She had to go to college with her heart in the right place, and that means she decided to get an English degree rather than something that might be worth something some day {oh, how I have heard this before}. But now, she scored a professor position at small Southern California school that might be better situated in a lovely hamlet in England {seriously, I went to college where this fictional college is supposed to be, and…let’s just say that we didn’t have the same experience}. Anne is determined not to let anything distract her from getting the tenured position of her dreams…not even Adam Martinez, the college’s new president and her former soon-to-be betrothed.

But that’s not all that she has on her plate. Anne has to deal with her overbearing sister who thinks that Anne is wasting her time on her dream. Then there’s her father, on the brink of death and still ornery over everything. Anne thinks that maybe Richard Chasen, New York Times bestselling author and the writer-in-residence at her college, will take her mind off of the stress of her daily life.

If you’ve ever read any Jane Austen, then you know that maybe putting your trust in a handsome, charming newcomer is not the best idea.

I feel like I’ve been reading some pretty heavy books, where everyone is plunging into a dark and terrible situation, even if they don’t know it. So this was a welcome reprieve! Anne is sweet, smart, determined, and sometimes horribly naïve, so she makes the perfect Austen heroine. You cheer for her at the same moment you’re yelling at her to see through certain people’s very thin lies. But even more Austen than Anne is her best friend, fellow professor Larry. He gives his advice freely, trying to direct Anne’s life the best he can, but he, like many of the Lady Russell’s and Bennet sisters, is not one to offer advice. Larry is in his own dangerous relationship with a married movie star.

Anne is in so much trouble.

By the Book is one of those quick, wonderful reads that you’ll want to curl up with on a rainy day. Preferably with a cup of tea. And, if the people around you are as cool as the people around me, trying your hand at a British accent. Even though this is set in California, but that doesn’t matter. Just don’t try the accent outside of the house. No matter how good you think it is…it’s not. Really.

But definitely give this book a try, because Julia Sonneborn has taken Persuasion and updated it into a lovely story that will have you laughing, cringing, and begging for Anne to just get something good in her life. She has so many setbacks in her year of chasing what she wants, and by the end of the book, you want to give her whatever you can. Maybe you’ll see a little of yourself in Anne, because she is completely relatable. If so, I’ll leave you with this: read this book, chase your dreams, and beware the handsome, charming newcomer that will undoubtedly come into your life.

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