Friday, February 27
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Despite the fact that Julie Lefkowitz is often exasperated by her best friend Ashleigh, "an Enthusiast," the 15-year-old loyally tolerates and often takes part in Ashleigh's various crazes. Ashleigh's current interest is the book Pride and Prejudice, and her latest scheme is to crash a formidable boys' school to attend a dance and find a 21st-century version of Mr. Darcy for herself, as well as a suitable companion for Julie. Dressed in vintage gowns, the girls do manage to slip into the dance and hook up with two agreeable young gentlemen. The problem is that both girls become smitten with the same guy-the shyer, more refined of the two boys. What follows is a sequence of witty exchanges, comic errors and miscommunications that could be taken right out of a Jane Austen novel. When all four characters get cast in a play, opportunities for passionate encounters abound; love triangles emerge and eventually evolve into appropriate romantic pairings. Those familiar with Jane Austen's writing style and themes will most appreciate the many overt and subtle references to the 19th-century author.