Review: By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

Posted February 12, 2018 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Review: By the Book by Julia SonnebornBy the Book by Julia Sonneborn
Published by Gallery Books on 2018-02-06
Length: 352 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: 2018 New Release Challenge

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

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.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past...and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

I don’t know about you, but I love, LOVE modern adaptations of Jane Austen classics. Is it just me? Seriously, I’m obsessed with them. I can’t get enough! It always astounds me how Austen’s thoughts on women, relationships, romance, and politics can be transferred to today. This is a woman who lived in the 18th century and yet her work lives on today, over two hundred years later AND it is still relevant. By the Book by Julia Sonneborn is a testament to that!

Following the story of a college professor, By the Book is a loose, modern retelling of Austen’s classic Persuasion. Anne Corey thinks she has it all figured out. She’s finally landed a job in Fairfax, a small liberal arts college, and is living her dream, teaching the books she loves. Her own book is finished and sent off to publishers, awaiting replies and hopefully a book deal. She thinks she doesn’t need a man and only occasionally does she think about and miss her college sweetheart and ex-fiancé Adam. Then he shows up as the new President of her college and she becomes consumed with “what ifs.”

Adam is a hard character to read. At one moment, it seems as if he has spent his time pining away for Anne. At others, he’s distant and aloof as though they never shared intimate moments together. Despite all of this, I rooted for him. I found his quiet steadiness refreshing.

While Anne tries to avoid Adam (because even though it’s been years since their breakup the hurt is still fresh), she meets and falls for the college’s new writer in residence Richard Chasen. I honestly couldn’t stand this guy. I wanted to reach through the pages and smack the smug smile from his face. He is SO full of himself, and yet somehow Anne falls for him. As I was reading, it was easy to see why. He’s a smooth talker, and with a few words he was able to persuade Anne to believe in him. Smug *insert bad word here*!

In addition to this main plot, there are several subplots that made the book feel true to life: Anne’s best friend falling for a firmly in-the-closet actor, her father’s failing health, her pursuit for tenure, and her book deal. These added to the story, but in all honesty I would have liked more about Anne and Adam. 75% of the book is about everything but them. The other 20% is their past relationship (which I loved how the author explored Anne’s past through present circumstances), and only 5% actually dealt with the main love interest. Rather disappointing for a contemporary romance.

Overall By the Book exceeded my expectations and is a refreshing adaptation! I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys Austen and second-chance romances.

About Julia Sonneborn

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.

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