Finding Favor: A New Take on Jane Austen + Why Ms. Austen Rocks

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Today, I’ve got a whole mess of awesomeness for you with a book review (and recommendation), a giveaway, and a guest post… So read on!

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True, it’s been awhile since I’ve indulged, but many of you know I’m a huge fan of the classics. Among my favorites are Les Miserables, Ulysses, Jane Eyre, and Love in the Time of Cholera. I also have a soft spot for modern day literary fiction along with my other favorite genre, young adult.

MansfieldSo image the joy I felt upon discovering a book that hits all three of these categories. Lana Long’s recently published debut novel, Finding Favor, pays homage to Jane Austen while keeping the story fast-paced and contemporary for a young adult audience. I loved the modern take on aristocracy, lavish parties, and rich people’s silly frilly activities.

I loved Favor and could relate to her struggle to find who she really was and what parts of her life couldn’t be bought off by a pompous benefactor. Favor is courted-ish by two brothers:  the tom cat playboy, Tom, and the best friend scaredy cat, Ethan. She has a nemesis in their spoiled sister, Madison, as well. My favorite character through it all was the kindly gardener, Mr. Rushworth. Something about him just warmed me to the core.

13108506-greenhouse-botanical-garden-with-beautiful-lush-flowering-plantsThis is a great leisurely read that fans of Jane Austen must pick up–yes, I’m assigning required reading. It’s also a great gateway read for introducing your hesitant teen to the classics. Give her Finding Favor first, then follow it up with Austen’s own Mansfield Park. You won’t be disappointed. Plus, it’s only 99 cents this week to celebrate its launch!

And as a special bonus to my review, check out this guest post from the author about why she adores Ms. Austen.

Don’t forget to scroll down for the purchase links and giveaways!

Why I Love Jane Austen

A Guest Post by Lana Long

Jane AustenI can sum it up in one word: escapism.  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy reading books that deal with hard-hitting issues—issues that are real and difficult—but for the most part watching one nightly newscast can provide enough reality to last a few weeks. When it’s late at night, the kids are sleeping, the dog is sleeping, the husband is sleeping, everything is real quiet and the day’s activities are slipping into memory, I want to spend my last waking minutes in a world that’s interesting, satisfying, and nice.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

The social propriety of Austen’s works fascinates me. All of Austen’s novels struggle with the hierarchy of society.  In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy fights his feelings for Elizabeth because she’s not quite up to his social standing. In Persuasion, Anne pines for her lost love because she allowed her family to convince her that Wentworth isn’t good enough. In Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby leaves Marianne when the risk of lost fortune becomes all too real. Willoughby is not a hero, and in the end Marianne comes to see that love doesn’t need to burn bright and hot to be real. Society tries to deflate these characters, tries to ruin their chances at happiness, but they fight through it and come out stronger, better off, and at peace. All except Willoughby, but that lout deserves what he gets.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

mansfield parkThe physical world of Austen’s novels is like a mythical place to me after growing up in the 20th century western United States. In Austen’s world, people live in houses the size of apartment buildings. They travel by coach, horseback, or they walk. If they’re wealthy enough, they summer in the country, winter in London, and vacation or convalesce in Bath. Servants take care of the family (don’t insinuate to Mrs. Bennett that she can’t afford a cook), drive them from place to place, work the land, and take care of the estate. Quaint villages and abbeys sustain small communities. Without wealth, people become isolated in their communities due to the time and cost to travel from one place to another. The characters in Austen’s novels—affluent or not—find ways to traverse this world and allow the reader to glimpse the countryside, the city and everything in between at the dawn of the nineteenth century in England.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

In Austen’s novels, the family structure and the roles of men and women are so foreign but at the same time so simple. What would it be like to spend all day sewing, playing the piano, reading, drawing, or walking in the garden? At the same time the women find themselves helpless because they aren’t allowed to learn anything besides these activities. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor is powerless to find a way to care for her sisters and mother after her half-brother inherits her father’s estate and doesn’t care for his sisters as promised. Emma‘s friends, the Bates, live off kindness and a small living, because Miss Bates never married and her father is deceased. It’s not necessarily easier for the men. If you’re not the oldest son your choices are limited to clergy, military or another profession deemed acceptable by the gentry.  Still, these people fight against the rules of gender and birth order. They are funny, kind, caring… frustrating and irritating, but they are always likeable and I cheer their success and mourn their losses, even Emma. And most of all, there’s a happy ending; our heroines and their friends find love and peace, and their foes find discomfort and an unfulfilling future.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

So why did I choose Mansfield Park for an adaptation out of all the Austen works? First, it’s a great story. The story is of Fanny Price, a young girl, coming of age away from her immediate family, who is too poor to rear all of their offspring. Fanny is required to uphold expectations set upon her by her caregivers, her wealthy aunt and uncle, but she is never to be rewarded for living up to those expectations because her true parentage is lowly. She’s in love with a boy, her best friend, who’s falling in love with someone else and by all of society’s rules unattainable even if he was available. The story felt ripe for a modern Young Adult novel.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

Second, well, I hadn’t seen Mansfield Park retold. It would take your hands, my hands and twenty of our closest friends to count the number of times Pride and Prejudice has been adapted. I’m not complaining; I love it. Other Austen works need the opportunity to be discovered through modern retellings as well. As a teenager I read Emma because of the movie Clueless.  Jane Austen’s been gone for almost 200 years and we still read her novels and draw inspiration from them because they are truly great stories.

And that is why I love Jane Austen.

The Giveaway

Finding Favor is priced at just 99 cents as part of its special launch week sale. Pick up your copy on either Amazon US or Amazon UK now, and don’t forget to stop by and participate in the special release week contests.

Our big launch week prize basket includes:   Journal with a cover inspired by Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (as is this novel), note cards with an orchid design (Favor’s favorite flower), a hard cover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (Ethan’s favorite book), and a cool pen (who doesn’t love cool pens?). CLICK HERE NOW TO ENTER!

About Finding Favor

Which would you choose:  friendship or freedom?

Finding-Favor - high resIn the eight years since seventeen-year-old Favor Miller’s father died, she’s had to endure her reluctant, self-righteous guardians the Browns. Every day for eight years, they’ve reminded her that she doesn’t fit in, that she’s not one of them. Every day for eight years, she’s eagerly awaited the day when she’ll finally be free to live her life her way.

On the eve of high school graduation, Mr. Brown ambushes Favor with the offer of college funding and a to-die-for summer internship–with the one stipulation that she must discontinue her friendship with his son, Ethan.

Accustomed as she is to sharing everything with her best friend, this is one secret Favor must keep in order to protect Ethan. The distraction of his new girlfriend, her growing friendship with his older brother, and her need to understand her family history, add in further complications.

As Favor debates signing the contract, she must decide if she’s willing to give up her best friend in order to pursue her dreams.  Will she have to stay in the place she’s so desperately wanted to escape in order to make the right decision and get what she really needs?

About Lana Long

As a devoted fan of young adult novels herself, Lana Long is thrilled to be gracing the YA world with her first novel, Finding Favor. Many years of daydreaming and several writing classes and workshops have contributed to the development of Finding Favor as well as to her inevitable future books. Through her experiences at Lighthouse Writers in Denver, the Big Sur Writing Workshop in California, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference, she has learned an amazing amount about writing novels.

Although writing serves as a relaxing process, Lana is also grounded by her family, by her work as a church treasurer, and by volunteering at her kids’ elementary school.

She hopes that her books provide readers with the same entertainment she herself finds in YA novels. If you enjoy a good coming-of-age story featuring enthralling characters, check out Finding Favor and read more of Lana’s thoughts at www.lanalongbooks.com.

 

 



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