Review: By the Book by Julia Sonneborn


An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.




I expected a good read when I picked up this book and that’s exactly what the author delivered. It isn’t an out-of-this-world amazing read but it isn’t all bad either. It is, what I like to call, an okay read.

By the Book is a retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen. I wish I could give y’all a little insight on how much the story deviates from the original but I’ve never read Persuasion—I’m the worst when it comes to reading classics, sorry!
Anne is an English professor with a lot on her plate. For starters, she’s a college teacher. Then add the book deal she has to land in order to keep her job. Her father’s health is not doing very well. Her new boss is her former fiancé. And there’s an irresistible writer-in-residence who is apparently very interested in her. Naturally, things get a little out of hand and soon she’s in a whirlwind of rejection emails, romance and words.

I could never really get into this book. The writing is good, the story is good too but I couldn’t connect with Anne. I wasn’t too fond of her which made it very hard for me to keep my focus on her life and whatever was going on around her. I disagreed with some of the choices she took and it was just HARD to like her.

A thing that definitely disappointed me about this book is that it doesn’t have a lot of romance. It didn’t make me swoon or grin like a fool from the sweetness. (A bit of a spoiler ahead!) Anne and her former fiancé, Adam, rarely talk throughout the story so it put me off a little bit when at the end they got back together and said they loved each other. Like I said, I could count with one hand (maybe) all of the encounters they had and pretty much none of them where romantic.

Here’s something a really liked about this book. In order to give a little more insight in Anne’s life the author shows some emails Anne receives through the entire story, like rejection emails from publishers or emails from her best friend. I’ve never seen anything like that before and I think it is a very clever way of giving us a little more into a character’s life.

All in all, I was quite bummed because of the lack of romance but it was still a nice, beautifully written book. If you are looking for a fantastic romance story, this is probably not the right book for you. But if you want to pick up this book because you enjoy retellings/Jane Austen then I say go for it!


Massive thanks to Gallery Books for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


3.5 / 5 flowers


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