Book Review: Jane Austen Cannot Marry, by May McGoldrick

Review by Brenda S. Cox

“She had a higher calling, and she answered that call.”—Jane Austen Cannot Marry

I just finished an entertaining book which I had a hard time putting down, so I’ll share it with you in this brief review. First, a caveat, though: the book does contain some profanity and premarital sex (though nothing explicit). This applies to the modern characters, not the Regency characters.

Otherwise, though, Jane Austen Cannot Marry, by May McGoldrick, is a fun time travel novel. Think Quantum Leap (one of my favorite shows) meets Jane Austen.

Nadine Finley is a “quantum commuter” and “Scribe Guardian” from 2078. That means she goes back in time to safeguard great works of literature for the future.

Jane Austen Cannot Marry, by May McGoldrick, is a well-written, fun, time travel romance.

A few spoilers here, but I won’t give away the outcomes . . .

As we begin the book, Nadine has been assigned to fix an error caused by a previous time traveler. Jane Austen is about to meet an old flame. If she marries him, her novels will never be published. So Nadine is supposed to prevent the meeting which would derail Jane’s career.

However, in 1811, while awaiting Jane’s arrival, Nadine is accused of being a French spy. Trying to escape (and in the midst of an asthma attack), she accidentally leaps into 2022. There she is reunited with a man she was once engaged to, her own old flame, Xander. She gets a Persuasion-style second chance at love. We have a long section here about her modern adventures, but, be patient, Nadine is going back to find Jane.

When Xander accidentally leaps back to 1811 with her, they find Jane Austen has already met her potential husband. Nadine and Xander work together to fix the situation. But should they give Austen her own chance at marital bliss, or should they keep Jane focused on her writing? For Nadine, it’s a matter of life and death.

Accurate information about Jane Austen is woven into the story.

The ending is good on some levels, though not totally satisfying. It is hopeful, however.

I enjoyed this book all the way through. It’s a creative take on Jane Austen’s life, with a compelling parallel modern story. I especially enjoyed the hero and heroine’s discussions with Jane.

A few quotes I marked in the novel:

“If someone’s life looks perfect, you don’t know them well enough.”

“Waiting was a potent agent of anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness.”

A woman with cancer says, “I stopped asking, ‘Why me?’ Instead, I thought, ‘Why not me?’ After all, I’m not different from anyone else. Illness and tragedy can happy to anybody.”

You’ll find Jane Austen Cannot Marry on amazon. Enjoy!

In the novel, details of people’s lives can be changed, but not the time or means of their deaths. If you could go back and meet Jane Austen, or another famous person, is there anything you would try to change about their lives? If so, how would you persuade them to change?

Note: I received a free copy of the book, with the proviso that I only review books that I really like. And I really liked this one! (Though normally I avoid books with profanity, so I’m warning you that is there.)


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