Fall for You (Jane Austen Academy #1) by Cecilia Gray
*Warning: Contains Spoilers*
So in this Jane Austen inspired work, Cecilia Gray takes the characters of Jane Austen’s novels and puts them in high school together, pairing up who would be friends and having them live in modern times. She chose the characters Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Moreland, and Anne Elliot.
Now this is something I have thought of too. Now I consider the main characters of the novels to be Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood, Fanny Price, Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Moreland, and Anne Elliot. For me, I would have pegged Emma and Anne as best friends as both were raised in the same manner with money. Anne is also more passive and listens to advice given by friends, the qualities that Emma enjoys in others. Catherine and Marianne always seemed a great match to me, as both love reading and have overactive imaginations. I could see Elizabeth and Elinor as well as Elinor has a level-headed, cool, calm, and collected personality that Charlotte, Elizabeth’s best friend, also had.
So the girls all go to an all girls’ boarding school in Merryton, CA. The founders of the school were the Elliots, in this book called the Escobars, Anne’s family, and named it the Jane Austen Academy. However this year is different, as the Elliot family have lost a lot of money and had to sell the school. The new owners want to remain anonymous, and have opened the doors to boys.
This gets Lizzy Egmont (I don’t know why she didn’t just use Bennet as she is Elizabeth Bennet) very upset as she feels it is going against the values of the school and that boys will ruin everything. This is something I didn’t like as the author made Lizzy like some man-hater and against all boys in general.
Lizzie is an only child from Chicago, where her parents are doctors, poor, and too busy for her. Now this is something that I didn’t really like either. Lizzie needs the interactions of her other siblings, as that helps make up her character. And Lizzie isn’t the only one who loses her siblings, every character in this (besides Darcy) is an only child. Really, I mean for Elinor this is horrible as she and Marianne are yin and yang. Elinor sense and Marianne sensibility. Without each other, who are they?
And if her parents are doctors and poor (which could happen) how can they afford to send her every year to a boarding school? That makes no sense. And her parents ignore her? One of the cutest things in Pride & Prejudice is the relationship between Lizzie and her father.
Yeah that is majorly upsetting and… wait I shouldn’t rant. Moving on.
So Lizzie is excited to live with her best friend Ellie Dvorak (Elinor Dashwood). Ellie is the child of yoga instructors and very zen “whatever happens will work out” type of person. She’s the complete opposite of the actual Elinor Dashwood character. And I didn’t like that at all.
However, Lizzie discovers that not only did she have to share a ride with her, but Lizzie is also having to room with her nemesis…Anne Escobar (Anne Elliot). Lizzie hates Anne because everything was just given to her as her parents owned the school. Ellie is rooming with Emma, a rich girl more interested in clothes and having fun. Everything Lizzie is not.
Lizzie and Anne don’t agree on being roommates and the two go to see the headmistress, Katherine Berg (Catherine de Berg). As they are waiting they overhear the headmistress talking with someone else and saying how she wants to destroy everything the Academy was and make it something new. Change the name, change the curriculum, etc.
When they speak to the headmistress, she won’t let them switch. And to make it worse she promises them that if they room together, she’ll give Lizzie the job of managing editor (perfect blackmail as she wants to be a journalist and has been coveting that spot) and Anne will be in charge of the “Welcome Back Dance”, (what she has been in charge of since the beginning of time). At first both balk at this, but decide it’s best to team up in order to take Ms. Berg down and stop the changes she is trying to make.
Part of this deal is that they have to do in depth profiles of certain new guys brought into the school. New students such as Dante Braxton (Fitzwilliam Darcy). However, to get back at Headmistress Berg, Lizzie and Anne decide to make the “Welcome Back Dance” a Regency inspired ball.
Anne and Lizzie start bonding and discovering more about each other. Lizzie starts understanding Anne’s pain of losing everything, and Anne understands Lizzie’s drive for truth and justice.
The next day the two are in the “newsroom”, in which Lizzie thrives in her role as editor and meets the very thing she doesn’t like, boys.
Dante enters with the other two guys that Lizzie and Anne have to interview, Rick Wright (Fredrick Wentworth from Persuasion) and actor Josh Wickham (George Wickham from Pride & Prejudice).
Now this is something else Cecilia Gray changes. Wickham has no role in this book at all. He’s there for the interview and that’s it. He’s not the guy Lizzie crushes on for a while, he’s not evil as he was in the book, he’s nothing. I don’t know whether she is going to change his whole role (as she already did with his backstory) or save his destructive side for later books. All I can say, it’s not Pride & Prejudice with Wickham being a nice guy.
Besides the guys, Dante also brings his little sister Georgiana. He is extremely overprotective of her, and his protectiveness is misconstrued by Lizzie to be super controlling of his sister. Lizzie is trying to take down Dante’s “control” by assigning Georgiana to interviewing Josh. She also assigns Anne to interview Rick as they seem to know each other. Lizzie gives herself Dante.
She starts questioning him and notices his attractiveness:
She starts questioning him and gets on the scent that he knows more about the new owners of the school then he is trying to let on. Georgiana interrupts them; with her, Dante, Rick, and Josh all leaving abruptly. Lizzie finds it strange and starts to discuss it with Anne, seeing that her interview was pretty stilted and just plain bad. Lizzie starts to push Anne to find out what her past was with Rick, but stops and instead is just a friend, joining her for dinner.
While Lizzie and Anne’s friendship is growing, Lizzie and Ellie’s relationship is going through some rough times. Lizzie is jealous with how close Ellie and Emma are getting and vows to get everything back to “normal”.
Soon it is time for the dance and the ladies look lovely.
Lizzie is ready to head to the dance, but Emma got them dates. Edward (Edward Ferras from Sense & Sensibility) is Ellie’s date, Emma got Dante, and Lizzie is teamed up with Rick. Lizzie leaves the group to hang out with Anne, and both are thrilled that the dance was a success and everything is beautiful.
Anne sees Rick dancing with other girls and is heartbroken. She runs outside and Lizzie follows her, to comfort her. While they are talking, Dante and Rick come outside discussing things, not realizing that the girls are there.
They overhear the boys talking and find out more than they wish.
- “Edward will be in the middle of a catfight if he keeps acting this way”- Is there another girl besides Ellie that he is with? Is he cheating on his girlfriend? (Those who have read Sense & Sensibility know the answer to that.
- Darcy excuse me Dante, wants to get a scholarship to Georgetown, the same school that Lizzy wants to go. (This makes me wonder why uber rich Dante needs a scholarship to Georgetown? His family has gazillions so can’t they use some of that to pay for his education? Whatever.)
So yeah, instead of outright dissing Lizzie like in the book, Dante just states he’s not interested in any girl and wants to go to Georgetown. Now I thought it was a huge faux pas on the writer’s behalf. Dante did nothing to outright insult Lizzie. In the book Pride and Prejudice he does and you agree with Lizzie’s anger as you see it as justified. He was a total jerk, and because of her hurt of pride at that remark she readily believes Wickham’s lies about the rest of Darcy’s character. In this, Lizzie has no reason to be mad at him, making any anger unjustifiable, and instead of a sympathetic character she looks like a brat.
Lizzie and Anne go back to the dance, having a great time. They run into Georgiana and convince her to come back to journalism. She worries about what her brother might say, but ends up agreeing to join. Dante approaches Lizzie to ask her to dance, but Lizzie immediately pounces on him, calling him a jerk because he is trying to control his sister. I thought once again this made Lizzie seem rude and not as likeable as she doesn’t even know the family dynamics but is yelling at him, and also because Lizzie would never discuss this in a public forum, but would wait to have a more private conversation.
After Lizzie rails on him, Dante apologizes for being a bit overprotective and agrees that maybe Lizzie was right in his being a bit too controlling. Instead of graciously accepting, she throws in another dig and storms off.
He just admitted he was wrong! Give the guy a bit of slack. Especially since he hasn’t really been a jerk, in fact you are the one acting jerky!
They continue dancing, but then Headmistress Berg drops the mother of all bombs, she announces that the Jane Austen Academy is no longer going to exist, the next year will show a massive overhaul of everything and a new name.
But Lizzie will not be deterred. She is determined to save the academy.
The next day in Journalism, Lizzie sends everyone sccurying to cover the bomb Headmistress Berg so delightfully dropped.
When they are surprised by Rick’s mother. Lizzie had contacted her for background information, but Mrs. Wright decided to come in person to answer any questions and bring photos for the spread.
There is also this weird subplot where Lizzie keeps thinking of Dante and finds herself disgusted at being so focused on him, as yuck a boy. All I can say is:
I mean you seem to be going out a little far there with the “I Hate Boys”. I mean it’s not like she is 10 or 12, she is a teenager, and most teens are interested in the opposite sex. Maybe they all don’t want a girlfriend or boyfriend, but they are interested. I mean I could buy the disgusted that she could be like one of those girls who is always giggling at boys or one of those girls who changes everything about themselves for a boy. But really? Being disgusted at the thought of being interested in a boy? That’s really strange.
Anyways, back to the book. Dante and Lizzie discuss Georgiana. Dante acceding once again that he was wrong in thinking newspaper wasn’t for Georgiana. Lizzie also discovers that he has parent issues, of which she can relate. (Although in P&P both Lizzie and Darcy had close relationships with their dads. It seems to me you could have the whole bonding over parents done the same way with them keeping those special links to their dads. But that’s just me I guess.)
We learn more about Rick’s character from his mom. He was doing so well at the Naval Academy, but transferred home because his mother became sick. Now this also doesn’t make sense to me. Dante and Edward were born rich, going to the best schools. It makes sense that in some point in time their histories linked up and they became best buds. But Rick was poor, and then become rich AND was at a Naval Academy. How did he meet up with the other boys to become best buddies? I don’t know. I guess when you try and meld different people from different backgrounds, histories, and events you are going to get weird holes like this. I’ll just move on.
So Lizzie and Anne are invited to spend the weekend at the Wright household, where Edward, Dante, and Rick (of course) will also be staying. At first the girls don’t want to, but when Lizzie hears a snippet about Mrs. Wright being one of the new buyers of the Academy, she sees it as he perfect time to snoop.
Lizzie heads out to eat with Ellie, when she is stopped by Dante. Dante questions if she is coming over this weekend to the Wrights. She gets all offended, why? IDK. Then she heads over to Ellie and to her chagrin, Emma.
Ellie is hurt when she finds out that Lizzie is going to a guy’s house with Anne, instead of hanging out with her. Lizzie assures her that things aren’t changing, she just wants to find out who the new owners are. Besides the “awful” Dante will be there. (He’s not even awful!) Ellie is all hurt about what Dante said about Elizabeth, but he wasn’t even that horrible. I mean…I already talked about that. I better move on.
Emma and Ellie make plans for the weekend which upsets Lizzie. Now I totally get this, it’s hard when your best friend is spending so much time with someone else.
So that weekend they head out to the Wright’s place, er amazing mansion. Anne and Georgina feel at home, as they are from wealthy families, or in Anne’s case used to be wealthy. Lizzie is starting to feel uncomfortable.
They go to their rooms and Lizzie is floored with the beauty of the place.
So everyone heads down to the pool and dinner, while Lizzy stays behind to “groom”. In reality, she is investigating the house. She starts to psych out a bit, but if she is going to be an investigative reporter, then she has to go for it.
She finds herself in the office, with lots of photographs. She starts trying to memorize them, when she is interrupted by a voice.
And it’s Dante!
It just had to be him, huh.
Lizzie tries to explain that she got lost on the way to the lake. Dante doesn’t say anything. When they get down there, Lizzie talks to Anne. She finds out that Anne really wants Rick back, but is scared. And you can’t blame her, relationships are scary.
While everything is fun, Lizzie still has her eyes on the prize. She fakes a cramp to get back in the house, BUT by doing so she inadvertently causes Dante to dive in and save her. He goes and carries her put of the water.
Lizzie tries to assure everyone that she is fine, but a part of her is pleased to have been in Mr. Darcy’s, I mean Dante’s arms. And who can blame her?
Lizzie is able to reassure everyone that she is okay, and takes off upstairs to change and get ready for dinner. She hurriedly changes her clothes and runs back to the office.
She begins taking pics with her phone, spotting a younger image of Rick and Dante. In it Dante looks incredibly happy.
Then she hears a creak behind her, and “That was taken three years ago.”
And it is Dante! Uh, oh.
Dante asks her what she is doing, as he knows it is more than just “lost”. Lizzie has nothing else to do but come clean. Dante questions her about researching those in the photo when there is over 50 people in them. Just a part of the biz, Lizzie replies.
Darcy, Dante then goes on to tell her not only an incredibly charming memory of him and his sister. He then, to Lizzie’s surprise, begins to tell her who each person in the photos are. When Lizzie asks him why, he says because he wants to.
He gives her everything, completely open. In fact, if Lizzie wanted to ask him who the owners are he probably would have said right away. But, she doesn’t want to be a reporter around him. Instead she wants to know all about him.
They get called down for dinner, and go on.
That night Lizzie is trying to figure out which of them are the owners, why she is feelings this way about Dante…that is until Anne comes in. Anne stays the night in her room as Anne’s is freezing cold. Lizzie quizzes her about the *real story* behind her and Rick. But Anne still won’t give her much about it. Lizzie convinces her to try again for Rick.
The next day the group is playing pool, when Anne smokes them all. Lizzie tries to use this opportunity to match up Anne and Rick, but it doesn’t work out.
But she and Darcy team up to learn more about the owners. Lizzie also asks him about Georgiana, and how she suspects there is something she is hiding. Darcy, I mean Dante (I am so bad at this, tell me why did she change his name again?), Dante says nothing, but Lizzie knows there is more. She cares about Georgina though, so she lets it go as is.
They talk more and Lizzie concludes that she was wrong about Dante, that there was more. Darcy, Dante, says that he is very guarded.
And that he has trusted people before, and is very careful about who he trusts from now on.
The two have a big moment alone in the stairs.
And Lizzie is hooked.
Lizzie goes up to the room to change and her mind is reeling over what happened. Anne comes in excited as she and Rick had a great time as well.
That night at dinner Rick is acting weird again and is all cold to Anne.
Lizzie goes to her room and packs everything up, ready to return to school. She Is looking for Anne, when she finds out that she has already left. Dante, Georgiana, and Rick are also off horseback riding. Lizzie is completely confused.
What is up with everyone?
She and Edward ride back to school together and Lizzie uses this time to grill Edward on the Anne/Rick drama. He tells him that back in the day, Rick lost his head over Anne and she broke his heart before he left for the Naval Academy. Dante saw that Rick was starting to fall for Anne again, and cautioned him to not give her a second chance. When Rick left for the Naval Acdemy, he wanted to continue dating Anne, but Anne’s mother convinced her to dump him. And who wants a women who can be easily swayed?
Then Edward asks her why she and Darcy kept ducking out. Lizzie knows she has to give some back, so she tells them they were looking into who the owners are. This confuses Edward as he knows…or thought the owners were Dante’s parents.
HE PLAYED HER!
And that means one thing and one thing only, revenge!
Lizzie is hurt and upset over this. How could she trust him? How was she was so stupid?
She is by herself when the door is thrust open, and there is Dante. He tells her that he had a ton of fun that weekend, that he loved how she defended Georgiana, and that he couldn’t stop thinking of her, hoping she would go out with him.
And Lizzie is like
How could he be so cruel to play her and then try to ask her out? She turns him down cold.
Lizzie rips him a new one. She is furious that he destroyed Anne’s new chance at happiness (I have to admit I did think that was a clever way to do the Charles & Jane story arc). But even more that he helped her “investigate” when his parents are the ones who own the school!
Darcy says it’s true, but Georgiana knows nothing about it. He asks if Lizzie will publish anything. She tells him he will just have to wait and see.
Ellie and Emma come back from their trip, and Ellie sees something is wrong but Lizzie doesn’t want to talk in front of Emma. They tell her about their weekend and give her a surprise. A book that has articles from the West coast newspapers through the years.
Lizzie is estatic, and when she discovers that Emma was the one who decided to get it for her, it makes her realize that she may have judged Emma too harshly.
Lizzie is extremely upset and wants her best friend to spill to, but Ellie was going to have lunch with Edward. She doesn’t want to be around Edward as she feels stupid, and she gets horribly upset saying things she doesn’t mean. They both start yelling, and Lizzie leaves.
She heads down to the microfiche, as she has an idea on how to save the school. When she gets there she runs into Anne. Anne was hiding out as she is heartbroken over Rick. She decides to hitch on to Lizzie’s plan to save the school.
The next day at lunch, Lizzie stands up and gets everyone’s attention. Anne hands out pamphlets while Lizzie talks about her idea. She tells them how the school started when Anne’s great-great-great-great-great-grandmother couldn’t find a school that would allow her daughter on the premises. She goes on in her speech that change is good, letting boys in was a good change, BUT it would be bad to change the name and the morals and values that the school stands for. She then sends a petition around hoping for signatures.
That day at the newsroom they dole out assignments and Georgiana asks her some questions. Georgiana’s “something secret” is really bothering Lizzie, so she takes her aside and asks her about it. Georgiana fell for a bad boy that was an old friend with Dante. He was really bad news. Dante got in some fights protecting the reputation of Georgiana. Long story short, Georgiana’s boyfriend cheated on her and dumped her, with Georgiana becoming depressed and throwing a hissy fit. They sent her to California, but Dante said that he had to go to. He didn’t want his sister to be without him, as he wanted to protect her.
Everything suddenly falls into place for Lizzie…why they bought the school…why he came. Dante’s parents did it so that Dante could go and protect his sister.
Lizzie goes to work on her petition, asking Emma and Ellie for help. Lizzie and Ellie make up, with Lizzie no longer hating on Emma but including her in the group.
They head out to their special tree; grabbing Anne along the way. The twosome is now a foursome.
The next day Lizzie is tooling about in the newspaper room and upset that there aren’t more interested in signing the petition. She decided to not print the owners names as she wants to respect Dante and Georgiana’s privacy, but that doesn’t mean she won’t send their parents special copies of the Gazette with hopes it will sway them.
She goes to see Bergie who tries to tempt her like Crowley into taking a deal that will seal her fate with Georgetown. Lizzie turns her done and heads off to her room.
As she is heading back she runs into Dante, who asks her for a few minutes. He gives her a huge stack of papers with tons of signatures. He got everybody he knows to sign it, getting tons of signatures. He can’t guarantee that it will change his parents’ minds, but he wants to help. He also talked to Rick and told him he was wrong, but Rick is not ready to try again. Lizzie is shocked.
Why did you do this?
And the two’s fighting is over.
The end does leave me with a few questions. If we had the Georgiana drama done before she came to the school why include a Josh Wickham? Is she going to have a repeat? Is Josh just a red herring? Why?
Now I know I had a few issues with the book, but on a whole it was actually very cute and I loved the idea of putting them all together as friends. I am looking forward to the rest of the series to see how she tells the other stories of the Jane Austen novels. I would recommend reading it at least once.
For more retellings of Pride and Prejudice, go to An Assembly Such as This
For more modern retellings of Austen’s novels, go to Definitely Not Mr. Darcy
For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to The Ugly Truth