Camp Jane is every Janeite’s dream. Susan Andrews imagined the perfect resort for the perfect holidays and penned an entire novel around it. I only wish someone could actually read this book and build everything the author imagined.
Camp Jane takes place on a property bought by Benny Pelletucci in the Catskill mountains during the 50’s, and turned into a Regency Resort by his daughter Edith. While growing up, Edith always wondered why she felt such a close connection to Austen, until she discovered that when her father built the resort, he built it based on a Jane Austen illustrated anthology, so every building in the property resembles Pemberley, Longbourn, Highbury etc. As an Austen fan herself, she decided to make this resort into a full Austen experience by hiring actors, and offering essay winners the opportunity to spend the summer at her resort, as long as they played the role of an Austen character. During the summer season, customers book their holidays at the resort and may take part in all major scenes of Austen’s novels. Can you imagine attending the Netherfield ball and witnessing Elizabeth dance with Mr. Darcy? Or interacting with Caroline Bingley and telling her exactly what she needs to hear? Better yet, can you imagine a resort where you have a recreation of London and Bath, and where you can shop or take a walk on the streets surrounded by people playing your favorite characters? I am telling you, this resort would be the perfect holiday destination!
The story itself starts at the LaGuardia airport where a few of the essay winners meet and discover they are all heading to what they call Camp Jane. The story then progresses throughout their first week at the resort, where they are assigned a character, get to know the property, take regency classes, develop friendships, and even help solving a mystery. The mystery in this book is exactly what I would expect in this type of story and it did not disappoint. I only wish I had started getting glimpses of it sooner. Even if there are a few tips added earlier in the story, I didn’t connect all the dots until the very end.
For obvious reasons, one of the aspects I loved the most in this book was the setting. It was a dream for everyone who loves Austen. I loved getting to know the locations the staff worked on, the app they used, and the classes they had to take to be ready for the summer season. I felt transported into a dreamy place and I kept imagining what it would be like to be a customer of this resort.
Diversity in Austen’s world has been much talked of lately, and to be honest, I do not enjoy books where I feel this topic is forced upon the reader or politicized. In Camp Jane diversity is approached in such a natural manner that I didn’t think about the origins of any character while I was reading it, I was completely focused on the characters themselves, their personalities and their actions. I loved the fact that the main character isn’t white and that it was approached in such a natural manner. Well done Susan Andrews!
The story itself is not very complex, the reader learns along with the characters the rules of the resort, gets to know the staff of the resort, and we only start seeing some developments in the plot when the mystery starts gaining its place in the narrative. The book focuses on describing the staff’s initial week at camp, and I would have liked to actually see the story progressing until the guests started arriving. I kept waiting for that to happen but it never did, so maybe that means we will have a sequel, or maybe this can even become a series! I can well imagine this book having several volumes, each one taking place in a different season with different Lizzies, different Darcy’s and different stories to follow 🙂 I wonder if the author accepts requests 😉
Summing up, Camp Jane is an interesting story penned with a very unique writing style which captivated me from the first pages, and I certainly recommend this book to my fellow janeites, I am sure you will like it as much as I did!
You can find Camp Jane at:
and on Kindle Unlimited