Polly Shulman is a genius! I could have never written a book about Jane Austen. It’s very daring to write about a famous author and her books. The result turned out to be a very clean and enjoyable (if not chick-lit!) book.

I had no idea that Enthusiasm was coming, so I didn’t immediately looking at it before and thinking, “This looks pretty good.” I forgot quickly about it, and it lay on my Good Reads shelf for a while. The cover didn’t register in my mind, because I received the paperback. I put it on my shelf for a night after cringing when I saw Stephanie Meyer’s quote, “Whenever someone asks for a reading suggestion, Enthusiasm is the first word off my tongue.” I just have this odd natural tendency to shy away from Meyer mainly because I feel the Twilight series should have stopped at Twilight.

I did end up picking it up yesterday, and it’s AMAZING. Well, for chick-lit. I have a couple rules for chick-lit that are nearly impossible for a book to fit.

1. It’s pretty clean

2. I can relate to the character (this one is hard!)

3. The romance is semi-realistic.

So, yeah, Enthusiasm fit every single one.

Julie’s best friend Ashleigh is an Enthusiast. She flies from one passion to the next with no room for Julie to breath. Julie’s been through knights in armor, Little House, Harriet the Spy, horses, Wet Blankets (a band, made-up, I presume), and juggling. She could handle all of those, and going into sophomore year, she thinks Wet Blankets is the perfect passion for Julie. Plenty of people like bands, right? Ashleigh will finally fit in until her next craze.

Just as Julie’s got everything under control, Ashleigh bounds into her bedroom from the tree that connects there rooms and makes a bold announcement.

“Etiquette?” she cried. “I hope I always conduct myself as befits a young lady. But my dear Miss Lefkowitz, why did you wait so long before introducing me to the joys of Miss Austen’s work? Elizabeth Bennet! Jane Bennet! The incomparable Mr. Darcy!”

Just one problem. Jane Austen is Julie’s craze. Not Ashleigh’s, and I understand that jealousy completely. Half of you wants your friend to love what you love, but you also have this feeling of ownership over your interests. Julie at first finds this a problem, until she realizes the complete mastermind plan that Ashleigh has. There is no way Julie will tag along to crash a private school’s elite party. Is there?

I loved this book so much! It’s going to get a prime spot on my shelves. I realize that I need to explain the words about chick-lit above. This book lays somewhere in between chick-lit and realistic fiction. It’s not totally chick-lit, so that’s probably why I like it so much.

The only problem I had with Enthusiasm was the lack of mentioning any other Jane Austen book. One of the reasons I love Austenland by Shannon Hale is that she incorporates all of Jane’s books plus other novels such as Jane Eyre into it. Enthusiasm only focused on Pride and Prejudice, which isn’t my favorite Austen novel.

I’m very excited to read more of Shulman’s books!

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