Who doesn’t love Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? We all have our favorite classics—mine is Pride and Prejudice.
In A Love for Pages by Joy Penny, we follow our heroine, June, through her first post-high school relationship. She is home for the summer and is adjusting to some major challenges and changes. She roomed with her best friend at college, but they have grown apart. June stayed inside and studied while her best friend, Deana, decided to live it up and partied her way through freshman year. This put a wedge between the girls, who happen to be from the same home town and whose brothers are also besties. June lives with her mom, her step-dad and her brother, Owen. Her step-dad is hyper-focused on June choosing a major that will get her a profitable job after college, even if that means she hates her major. June’s real love is books, specifically classics like P&P, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. She has each book in tattered copies, eschewing the e-readers for the smell and feel of books. She watches their adaptations on TV and compares most people to those characters.
At her step-fathers’ insistence, she looks for a summer job that will help her network with “the right people” who can help her to secure what he feels is a great job after graduation. Her best friend, Deana, and Deana’s twin Margot are instead going on a trip to Europe that June wasn’t invited to. Margot had accepted a volunteer position at the local library, which she begs June to take for her. Since it’s at a library, her Fenway Park and Disney World wrapped into one, she agrees. While there, she learns about the Rochester family, who have donated millions to the library. She meets Everett Rochester, who is straight out of a Pride & Prejudice re-enactment as Mr. Darcy, complete with June overhearing him call her “bearable”, a modern-day “tolerable”. They are forced together to work on a summer reading project, pushing and pulling with each other until Everett sees that he has fallen for the young June, despite all of her supposed short comings. There is even a Lady Catherine DeBurg moment with Everett’s ex. They are enjoyable tidbits to those who know the books but you can keep up if you haven’t read the originals. The book ends predictably but there are still a few twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. Some of the plot points that coincided with the classics seemed a bit forced to me. The part where the twin besties are walking through Paris and happen to find Everett’s ex, who then jumps on the phone to threaten June was pretty unrealistic to me. But, as a Pride & Prejudice fan, still had me smirking to myself. The relationship between June and Everett seems a little bit of a stretch as well. She is 19 and he is 27. She is barely out of high school and he comes from a wealthy family and helps run a multi-million dollar business. But Darcy’s feelings for Elizabeth are out of left field, too, so hard to know if that was intentional or not. The relationship between June and Sinjin, her ex and her brother’s best friend, is sweet and shows maturity on June’s part. The sycophantic actions of the head of the library are humorous. The real story behind Everett’s dad and step-mother, the Rochester matriarch, is sweet and adds a layer to Everett, who often comes across as a spoiled rich guy who pouts when he doesn’t get his way. The characters are likable, the plot is mostly predictable but enjoyable and I still felt that urge to finish it before falling asleep at 2am, having to know how it ends. Nice effort by the author and I look forward to reading more by her.