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.

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