ok, so: comparing this to Jane Austen is like comparing the proverbial lighting bug to lightning.
and granted, the author didn’t put all those Austen comparisons on the cover, the publisher did. but!
these people are boring! our heroine has nothing of the fire of an Austen heroine. at one point she says, “I cannot imagine a cat snoring,” and i believe it. i can’t imagine her imagining anything.
the book is certainly intended to be a period piece, but it’s Period Piece Lite: forget the social issues! forget the deep dissatisfactions! forget the boxing of men and women into tiny, suffocating roles they may not be constructed to play! and toss the servants off the canvas altogether!
i gave up on page 173. you can’t say i didn’t give it a fair go.
it’s not a case of being unattuned to the style–i adore Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, and 100 other writers both of that time and around it. but this novel hasn’t half the heart, a quarter of the fire, or even a whisper of the steel that the least of those writers have.
so, we are left with the gowns, and the hair, and the insipid romance. the addition of “glamour” does (by page 173) absolutely nothing to enliven an otherwise enervating and pointless book.
in short: ugh.