Two Guys Read Jane Austen by Steve Chandler and Terrence N. Hill

Two Guys Read Jane Austen
Steve Chandler

Two Guys Read Jane Austen is the third book in the series (after Two Guys Read Moby Dick and Two Guys Read the Obituaries). As the title suggests, this is a book where two men read Jane Austen, but it's more than just Jane discussed here. The two writers have been lifelong friends, so peppered with their observations of first Pride and Prejudice and then Mansfield Park, are observations to one another about life that covers topics from plastic surgery, to alcoholism and writing.  Written as a series of letters back and forth to each other, Steve and Terry have a meandering conversation, and as a reader I felt like I was overhearing two intelligent people who enjoyed each other's company. Jane Austen was just their excuse.

Overall: I had a good time reading this – it was an amusing book and I found myself reading slowly to savor it. There was a lot of gentle prodding at each other and a great sense of friendship. For instance when Terry is in Mexico and Steve hasn't heard from him in a while, he writes wondering if Terry has been kidnapped, and then notes there has been no random demand: "What would I be willing to pay, you are wondering. Everything. I would liquidate it all. And that might be a reckless thing to say so publicly in a book, but criminals don't read. Which is one of the reasons why they are criminals."  I love that; criminals don't read, but it's also a nice commentary on their friendship.

I wish I could put my thoughts down as coherently and as thoughtfully as these two do. It was also refreshing in many ways. One admitted tearing up at the end of Pride and Prejudice (and that he cries at movies!). The other commented "I think the mind is the most neglected aspect of falling in love". Plus they both like Jane Austen! 

If you haven't read Jane Austen, I think you'll still enjoy this book, but it certainly helps if you have a basic idea of the plot of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, so you can follow the jumping points for the conversation.

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