Jane Austen in Scarsdale by Paula Marantz Cohen

May 7, 2008
By Lia Rosalsky, Swarthmore, PA

With thousands of tasteless, boring, cliché romances on the bookshelves, it seems next to impossible to find a truly high-quality book about life in, and out, of love. There's always the classic “her husband dies and she thinks she can never find love again until fill in the blank comes into her life” or “the nerdy girl who falls in love with the class jock,” but the plot in Jane Austen in Scarsdale is unique and heartfelt on many different levels.

Not being a huge fan of romance in general, I am reluctant to read novels that seem to fall in that genre. However, it only takes five pages for me to feel like I am the main character living life, and putting the book down will result in my life stopping! For Anne Ehrlich, a high school guidance counselor, her life is consumed by SAT scores, GPA's, and getting her students into the colleges of their choices, something stressful that most high school students deal with everyday. Her calm manner in dealing with these taxing issues provides great relief to the frequent frazzled student.
This romantic plot however is focused on one man, Ben Cutler, Anne's old boyfriend. Although she hasn't seen him for thirteen years, she is positive he is the person she is meant to be with. She has dumped him before because a lack of familial approval, but now he is a world renowned author, and both Anne and her family feel the sting of their earlier rejection. Ironically, Anne's once wealthy family who has discarded Ben Cutler is now suffering financially, and the cycle of wealth has come full circle.

When Ben moves to Scarsdale, and his nephew will be one of Anne's counselees, things start to heat up. Even with this huge event, another curve ball is thrown when Ben Cutler decides to buy Anne's grandmother's house which she must sell due to financial difficulties. This large house is not only for his nephew and him, but the woman in his life that he plans to marry.

This edgy novel explores the feats of getting into college, standing for what you believe, and falling back in love, while simultaneously making the reader laugh and hold back tears. Anne's positive personality and take on life glues this book to one's hands, making for a pleasurable and emotion-filled read.

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