Bookshelf Challenge – No 4 – UNFINISHED

For the last few years, one of my besties has been doing the Unread Shelf challenge. The idea is (in part – it’s a bigger challenge than it looks) to use prompts to help a reader work through the Unread Titles on their shelves.

Inspired by her, I am in the midst of attempting to gain control over my unruly bookshelves, so have tallied up my UnRead Books.

Just fictional books – not including poetry, factual or eddyumacational books – ONLY fiction, you get me?

There’s 128 books.

That’s…that’s a bit much really.

So here’s where I tackle them, book by book – to finally figure out which are staying, which are going to be donated and which are going to be discarded unfinished. Oh yes, I’m in that sort of a ruthless mode!

My picked 4th book was I was Jane Austen’s Best Friend – by Cora Harrison

Jane says that if I am to be the heroine of this story, something will throw a hero in my way . . .

I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend is the secret diary of Jenny Cooper, Jane Austen’s teenage friend and confidante. Their evenings are a blur of beautiful dresses, balls, gossip and romance; their days are spent writing about them – Jenny in her diary, Jane in her first attempts at fiction.

When Jenny falls utterly in love with a handsome naval officer, obstacles stand in their way. Who better to help her than Jane herself, who already considers herself an expert in love and relationships?


Going into this challenge I was going to be ruthless. No finishing books that I am not enjoying. As my mum says ‘life’s too short for a book you can’t bear’. (That might not be a direct quote, but it’s close.)

Usually, I really struggle with putting down books unfinished. It’s like my teenage self made a sacred vow to finish every tome, no matter how terrible and I have for some reason kept it up. Course, when I said that to myself, my anticipation was that I would actually probably finish them.

But no! 4 books in and I’m admitting …not defeat…I’m admitting that…I deserve to be filling my time with more enjoyable books than this.

For Fairness – I do wholeheartedly admit that I am a good 25 years older than the desired audience. I am also acutely aware than teenage me would have finished this, eviscerated it and then done mock re-tellings for friends to ensure that they were warned about the terrible. I was… A Bit Much as a teenager, if I’m honest.

In the far off distant past, I have read and really enjoyed Cora Harrison. She wrote My Lady Judge about the Brehan laws and it was exciting, pacey and – crucially – well written. I am STAGGERED to discover that this book is by the same author.

The depiction of Jane Austen, her family and her perspective of the world left me wincing. Jenny – the narrator – is everything a Jane Austen character manages not to be. A less inspiring protagonist is hard to visualise. The arch ‘subtle’ references to Austen novels were not clever or cute and I was furious to discover that the Bronte’s stories were going to archly thrown out as discarded early stories of Miss Austen.

So – I’ve stopped. I’m just over the halfway mark but I am done. I have 120 other books to hand (still mortifying to say out loud) and will be picking one of those this evening.

Also – I have created an unfinished shelf on goodreads and will be removing this from my annual total. I gave it a go. Not to my taste. And that’s fine.


Left in the little free book box on my street. Hopefully it will find a teenage to love it and be inspired to try an actual Austen story.


2 thoughts on “Bookshelf Challenge – No 4 – UNFINISHED

  1. Hi. I found this post through a link at the bottom of one of my own posts I was rereading (because I never tire of the “sound of my own voice”). You write well. I have bookshelf challenges of my own, in a different sense–it seems that I much prefer to buy books than to read them. So the shelves are full and I have more books lying on their side in front of or on top of the “shelved” books. It’s a constant struggle to find books that I want to get rid of.

    I perhaps wouldn’t bother commenting except that (1) I’m also a Jane Austen fan. I’ve read all the novels at least twice, and P&P more than that. And (2) I’m a blogger with even fewer followers than you have, and I know how tiresome it is never to get any comments, and not even many likes.

    Just so you know, I’m a 74-year-old male living in Bakersfield, California, USA, and an ex-con. I also write fiction, though I am unpublished. I hope you’ll drop by my blog and say hello, but in any case, I enjoyed this post and will take a look around your blog.

    Your newest follower–
    Alan Carl Nicoll

    • Hello! thank you for taking the time to read and comment – it is very much appreciated!

      The bookshelf challenge has been so good for helping me focus on the books that I want on my bursting bookshelves and filtering out the ones that I really really don’t want to have anymore! I’m not using the ‘official’ prompts but have still managed to get through 24 last year and fingers crossed at least that many this year. Thought I’m well over the 18 mark now thanks to Christmas!

      I have signed up and look forward to seeing your latest posts 😀

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