#22 A Review of Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford

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Michael Thomas Ford, where have you been throughout my entire life when I needed a good laugh?! Jane Goes Batty the second in the “Jane Bites” series which pegs Jane Austen as a vampire.  Turned by Lord Byron over 100 years ago, Austen, now Jane Fairfax, runs a small bookstore in upstate New York.  At the end of the first novel, Jane Bites Back, we see Jane finally achieving one of her dreams: having her manuscript Constance published as well as her love life blossoming with boyfriend Walter. All seemed well when we left Jane, but boy were we wrong!

Jane Goes Batty takes us deeper into what is “being a vampire.”  Byron has begun giving Jane “how-to-be a vampire” lessons, which include teaching her to become invisible.  Since the attack by fellow vampire Charlotte Brontë, Jane’s felt uneasy about her safety and the safety of those around her.  On top of her vampire training, Jane is struggling to write the draft for her second novel, is dealing with the “paparazzi” due to the success of her novel, and is trying to help out with the film version of Constance.  Add to all of this her first meeting with boyfriend Walter’s mother, a woman who believes her son should be dating a nice Jewish woman that he can marry.  (Imagine if she knew what Jane really was!!)  Throw in a cast of crazy characters, romantic misunderstandings, baby vampires, and a murder and you have one hell of a storyline in Jane Goes Batty.

Michael Thomas Ford has an incredibly sharp-witted sense of humor that makes his writing a joy to read.  His Jane Austen is exactly how I’d imagine her to be in real life: full of life, sometimes shy with new people, but never afraid to speak her mind through her sharp wit.  I sometimes think that these traits are what draw readers, especially women, to read Jane Austen.  Her strong personality shines through with her writing, and I think Ford got it completely right when he wrote Jane as she is in this book.  She reminds me of Elizabeth Bennett!  The “past” that Ford comes up with for Jane is side-splitting.  The sheer fact that Jane was part of the original Rocky Horror Picture Show had me rolling on the floor laughing.  All I could picture was a woman in a dress of Austen’s time doing the timewarp.  Needless to say I laughed for a while with that image in my head!

The one weak spot of the book is the relationship between Walter and Jane.  Considering Jane wrote STUNNING love stories between Lizzie and Darcy, Anne and Wentworth, etc, I would expect her to have a stunning love story.  Walter seems a bit lackluster.  Don’t get me wrong, he cares about Jane and loves her, but their relationship seems to be lacking the spark I’d expect Austen to want for her own love life.  I mean come on, real Jane almost ran away to marry the man she loved!  Walter doesn’t seem like that guy to me.  Maybe this will be a plot piece down the road?

The book is incredibly fast paced and written to keep your attention from start to finish.  The humor of the book is tounge-in-cheek with tons of witticisms being made about the Jane Austen fan fiction industry (just as in the first book).  Keep your eyes open for the pact that Jane makes with Walter’s mother.  It’s sure to have you cracking up and waiting with bated breath for the next book in the series Jane Vows Vengeance.  The pieces all fit to make this book a must read for Austen fans everywhere!! 

4 out of 5 Stars

Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford
Random House Publishing Group (2011)
Paperback 304 pages
ISBN: 9780345513663