In the Austen Playbook, Parker delights with a clever opposites-attract romance.
Set in a crumbling estate begrudgingly opened to a television production crew and a querulous cast of thespians, Parker throws together a grumpy and frustrated theater critic with a charming and impulsive actress. While full of Austen references, it is not a full blown retelling, allowing for the story to surprise by calling back to beloved Austen moments at unexpected points. The conflict embedded in Freddy and Griff’s explicitly Hufflepuff/Slytherin personalities is fodder for much of the humor. While it comes close to becoming repetitive, neither of them become caricatures. Parker’s resolution of the high stakes literary mystery did not wholly satisfy, but I loved how Griff and Freddy worked out their differences.
Parker layers present-day conflicts with past scandals, creating an engaging story that is at once playful and profound. I was completely caught up in the saga of the Fords and Carltons and how the choices of one generation echo down the years. With its cast of colorful, vain, and occasionally villainous supporting players, The Austen Playbook made for a full blown house party mystery from Parker.
The Austen Playbook is one of my favorite reads of the year so far and one of my favorites of the series, perhaps even surpassing my love for Pretty Face.
Content Warnings: Bullying, workplace harrassment