Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Orange Blossom
Julie’s best friend, Ashleigh, is an enthusiast. Julie never knows what new obsession will catch Ashleigh’s fancy, but she does know she’s likely to be drawn into the madness.
Ashleigh’s latest craze is Julie’s own passion, Pride and Prejudice. But Ashleigh can’t just appreciate it as a great read; she insists on emulating the novel’s heroines, in speech, dress, and the most important element of all—finding True Love. And so Julie finds herself with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks, sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys prep school, where they discover some likely candidates.
The problem with Ashleigh’s craze this time, however, is that there is only one Mr. Darcy. So when the girls get a part in the boys’ school musical, what follows is naturally equal parts comedy and romance, as a series of misinterpreted—and missed—signals, dating mishaps, and awkward incidents make Julie wonder if she has the heart for True Love.
Enthusiasm is an adorable book. I don’t know how else to describe this young adult romance. Suffice it to say that even adults will enjoy this uncomplicated and sweet story.
Julie is fifteen and about to start her sophomore year of high school. And it is her friend Ashleigh who is the "enthusiast." When Ashleigh finds her new "thing," she enters into it heart and soul. Julie oftentimes finds this friendship to be just short of social suicide yet she never wavers in her devotion. I have to give her credit for that. These two were a great pair especially now as Ashleigh heads into her new enthusiasm and will only wear long skirts and speaks in the archaic language of Georgian England. She has even devised a plan for the two of them to crash the fall dance at the local all-boys private school to find their Darcys right out of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. What choice does Julie have but to follow as she always has.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this book. All the characters were terrifically written and the situations were terribly funny and romantic. I especially loved the young hero, Charles Grandison Parr. What a name! Ms. Shulman created a hero that will make young and old fall in love again—very similar to how Jane Austen did it. Julie finds herself in the midst of a kind of love triangle, stuck between finding her own happiness and loyalty to her friend. You have to just feel for her and yet at the same time want to rally her to go for it.
This is a book of comedy as well as romance and of course teen issues of family, friendship, and first loves. It was very well written and interesting especially finding all the Jane Austen and other literary references. The author depicted teen age relationships extremely well. And I found myself really starting to feel everything that the heroine of the story was going through. My heart pitter-pattered right along with Julie’s whenever she sees dear Parr. It is a clean, sweet story that I would recommend for pre-teen girls and up. This is Shulman’s first novel and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next.