Review: Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

Author: Polly Shulman
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Son
Age Group: Teen
Source: Library
Good Reads  |  Amazon
Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary from Amazon:

There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast. Julie knows from bitter experience: her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. Ashleigh’s current fancy is also Julie’s own passion, Pride and Prejudice, and the heroine’s quest for True Love. And so Julie finds herself swept along with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks and sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys prep school. There they discover several likely candidates for True Love, including the handsome and sensitive Parr. And Julie begins to wonder if maybe this obsession of Ashleigh?s isn?t so bad after all. . . .


3 out of 5

3 out of 5

My Thoughts

As a Pride and Prejudice obsessed person, I can pretty much never turn down a book inspired by my favorite book.  I’ve read Bridget’s Jones’s Diary, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Fields, Epic Fail, Spies and Prejudice, and Prom & Prejudice.  Although I’ve come across at least one dud (in my opinion), when I discover another P&P retelling, I have to give it a chance.  Enthusiasm is more of a “inspired by P&P” than a direct retelling, and I can’t say I was madly in love, but I did enjoy it enough.  Since I’m feeling lazy, and don’t want the pressure of writing in complete sentences (and worrying about transitions), I’m going for a bullet-point review today.  So here’s my thoughts on Enthusiasm.

  • It took me some time to warm up to the MC, Julie.  And since this book isn’t even 200 pages, the fact that it took me at least 50 pages (a quarter of the book!) to start liking Julie, that’s not really a good thing.
  • However, after those 50 pages, I did start to like Julie.  I never loved her, though.
  • Julie was a little woe-is-me, and never explained to her best friend, Ashleigh, how she felt about Grandison (RIDICULOUS name).  I can understand that, to a point, because I was like that in school, too.  But after awhile, I just thought she should really just talk to Ashleigh.
  • And speaking of Woe-is-Me, Julie ends up having to sleep IN THE BASEMENT at her fathers house.  I’m not kidding.  Did P&P suddenly cross paths with Cinderella, here?  Her father is very wealthy, and he only has a two-bedroom house?  I just couldn’t believe that bit.  And it was another reason for Julie to feel all put upon.
  • I did really love seeing Julie’s concern for preserving her friendship with Ashleigh, though.  It’s nice to see two girls being BFFs.
  • On the other hand, towards the beginning of the novel, Julie had some pretty negative thoughts towards Ashleigh.  Ashleigh tends to get obsessed with something, and she drags Julie along.  I get that Ashleigh’s enthusiasm can be a bit frustrating, but it’s who she is, and if Julie is BFFs with Ash, then she should accept her’s eccentricities.
  • As for Ashleigh, I thought she was adorable, if a little immature and single-minded.  I really liked her.  🙂
  • Some the of the dialogue in this book is eye-roll inducing.  At one time Julie actually asks her friend “Who was that masked man?”  I’m not kidding!  She’s a modern day teenager.  No way would a 16 year old ever say that!
  • And let’s talk The Darcy character’s name: Charles Grandison Parr.  People usually call him Parr, but other times he goes by Grandison.  Why not Charles?  At one point, Ned calls Parr Granddad.  I mean, it’s the most ridiculous name ever.
  • As for the actual character of Parr, I liked him.  He doesn’t have that Darcy personality, but her’s a nice guy.  There’s no I hate you, but I also love you business like there is in P&P.
  • As I mentioned above, the book is barely 200 pages, and I have to say that the pacing is good.  There really aren’t any times that the story drags, in my opinion.
  • I did find Enthusiasm as a pretty adorable book.  Especially once I started liked Julie.

So, overall, I enjoyed Enthusiasm, but I don’t really think it’s anything special.  But if you are P&P obsessed (like me!), and you can’t get enough retellings, then check this one out.  It’s a quick read, and for the most part enjoyable.

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
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3 Responses to Review: Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

  1. Ok, so I read Enthusiasm awhile back and loved it, so I’m excited to see your review! Yes, the characters were a bit weird…and I agree with you that Julie was a bit of a chicken when it came to standing up for herself and telling Ashleigh what was what…but what I liked about J and A was that they actually kind of seemed like normal kids. Sometimes you do kind of act a bit strange in high school, and sometimes you do say weird things like, “Who was that masked man?” The whole thing felt like it was poking fun at the Regency era and Shakespeare, while, at the same time, keeping all the things I loved about Austen.

    Also, didn’t you love the two sonnets that the author put in there? When Julie and Parr first meet, they speak in a sonnet. It’s pretty cool. I love stuff like that.

    Thanks for reminding me that this book exists!

  2. I enjoy P&P retellings, but I may skip this one. Julie doesn’t sound like a character I want to learn more about even though I do love finding books with decent friendships portrayed. Thanks for the great review! P.S. I love bullet-filled reviews!

  3. Hannah says:

    Haha! I’m like you – I love Pride & Prejudice so much that I can never resist a retellings, a continuation, an inspired by, etc. I have more than a few that fell really flat but I can’t stay away. It’s such a problem! I’ve seen this one in the library before and been tempted to grab it. Glad to hear your honest thoughts – I think I’ll pass on this one. Unless I’m super desperate for a P&P-ish fix!

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