Book Review: Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald


Grace, 16, and Hallie, 18, are sisters living in San Francisco with their tortured, artist mother. A few years before the start of the novel, Grace and Hallie’s father leave them for a woman he works with, Portia, a rich, over privileged, trust-fund baby. After getting married to Portia and having a son, 9 months after the wedding, the girls’ father suddenly dies leaving them even more angry and alone. Conveniently for Portia, there was no up-to-date living-will and Hallie and Grace are left with nothing, not even the deed to the house that they are living in with their mother.

Left without a home and little money to their names, Hallie, Grace, and their mother move to L.A., to live in Hollywood with their rich older cousin and his very young wife. Hallie is happy to move to Hollywood to start her acting career, but Grace is furious and worried about the move. Not only is she leaving her childhood house behind, but she’s also leaving her new friend (and crush,) Theo, who happens to be Portia’s brother. After moving to Hollywood, Hallie makes a few high-profile friends and begins to date a guy in a band. Grace, on the other hand, isn’t as outgoing as Hallie, and has a harder time adjusting to her new life, especially since she isn’t able to see Theo as much anymore.

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald is a contemporary version of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Since I have never read Sense and Sensibility, I can not comment on how similar and/or different the two books are, but I can say that I really enjoyed this book. Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood is everything I love about Young Adult Literature. It is cute, fun, and made me want to read Sense an Sensibility.

I originally wanted to read Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood because of its title and its cover. As I have said before, I have a bad habit of judging books by their covers. This cover makes me think of The Lying Game TV series on ABC family, which was adapted from the books by Sara Shepard. The title intrigued me because it alluded to a Jane Austen adaption and even though I haven’t read anything by  her, I still find myself drawn to her work.

I really enjoyed all aspects of this book. I was immediately sucked into the lives of Grace and Hallie and could barely put the book down; I read the first half in less than a day. I really enjoyed Grace and Hallie’s friendship and their ups and downs of sisterhood. They fought a lot, but when it came down to the big problems, they were there for each other. I also loved their relationship with Amber, the young woman their “Uncle” married. She made me laugh during the scenes with her “children” (tiny dogs.)  She was also so kind and generous towards the girls, as if they had been best friends all their lives.

Right before Christmas, Amber takes Grace and Hallie to New York for a pre-Christmas shopping trip. They stay at a fancy hotel, the penthouse of course, and go to all of the famous New York movie-based spots including: Serendipity (the coffee shop) and the Central Park ice skating rink. I have had a dream to go to Serendipity, ever since seeing the movie. I loved this part of the novel because I could picture these locations and picture myself there too.

Throughout the entire book, I was rooting for Theo and Grace to get together. Grace’s crush on Theo is adorable and I felt like Grace was a friend that I wanted to see happy. Her crush is so innocent and child-like, the way a true first love should be. Although it’s weird that he is sort-of her step-uncle, they are not related by blood. If her father were alive, it could have been an issue, but since he is deceased, I didn’t see a problem with it.

I love reading about the rich and famous; it’s like book candy for the Hollywood obsessed. Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood is the perfect read for any Hollywood lover. This novel would be great for any reader that has read, and enjoyed, the series A-List by Zoey Dean and the L.A. Candy trilogy by Lauren Conrad.

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood will be available to purchase on April 23rd! In the meantime, you can pre-order your copy on Amazon!

I received an ARC e-book of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


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