"Enthusiasm, like Pride and Prejudice, bubbles over with romantic misunderstandings and comic confusion."
—The New York Times Book Review
“Winsome and witty, loaded with lunatic junior-high aperçus ('Juliet's not even 14 yet,' a young Shakespeare scholar remarks. 'He's going to kill himself over an eighth-grader?'), Enthusiasm has the makings of an instant classic."
—Lev Grossman, Time Magazine
“Whenever someone asks me for a reading suggestion, Enthusiasm is the first word off my tongue."
author of the Twilight saga
★“Wry [and] engaging… an impressive first novel.”
—Booklist, starred review
“A charming romantic comedy.”
—School Library Journal
“A fanciful romance…delightfully wholesome.”
“Witty exchanges, comic errors and miscommunications that could be taken right out of a Jane Austen novel…. Readers [will be] caught up in this debut novel’s romantic whimsy and humor.”
“Two best friends experience confusion in love in this nifty little spin on Pride and Prejudice…. Comical misunderstandings ensue in this innocent who-will-wind-up-dating-whom farce. Shulman manages to lift the story above standard fare with clever plotting and quirky, often elegant writing that should please the literary crowd while keeping romance lovers engaged. Several cuts above the usual fare.”
Awards and Honors:
Jane Austen never had friends like this! "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, veers wildly from one obsession to the next, dragging Julie along on her crazy schemes. Ashleigh's current fancy is also Julie's own passion: Jane Austen's great love story Pride and Prejudice. Dressed in a vintage frock and dragging her feet, Julie finds herself sneaking into a dance at an all-boys' prep school with Ashleigh, in search of heroes. Unfortunately, they both fall for the same one: the handsome and gallant Grandison Parr. Will Julie have to choose between loyalty and love? Or will Ashleigh's embarrassing antics drive him away before Julie gets a chance?
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Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 ▾
“WHAT GOOD IS A HEROINE without a hero? From what I remember of freshman year, we will be hard-pressed to find even a single gallant at Byzantium High. I despair of finding a pair of them there! But fortunately, I have discovered the answer.”
Clearly Ashleigh had finished the research portion of her fad and moved on to the active stage. Now that she had decided to enact a 200-year-old love story with us as the heroines, I was afraid the results would be mortifying.
Without much hope, I tried to head her off. “I thought you despised boy-crazy girls like Michelle Jeffries and those people. You always said crushes were for noodleheads.”
Ashleigh drew herself up to her full height, which I couldn't have done in her position-standing on my bed-since my head would have hit the sloping roof; her figure may be more mature than mine, but she's six inches shorter.
“I speak not of crushes, Miss Lefkowitz," she replied, "but of True Love.”
True Love! What girl hasn't dreamed of that? Even the shyest among us longs for a soul mate-someone who will understand our hopes and fears, laugh at our jokes, offer us his coat when the afternoon turns cold, charm our parents, and admire us, flaws and all....
Yet if Ashleigh cherished a similar dream, I feared for her peace of mind. For is True Love likely to come to a high school sophomore who dresses in a chorus robe and ballet slippers?
“Okay, but listen, Ash,” I said. “You're not planning to go to school wearing that, are you? No guy will even look at you.” Me neither if they see me with you, I added inwardly. “Couldn't you please, please, please wear jeans?”
As always, my plea fell on deaf ears. “I see not the necessity of discussing with you, Miss Lefkowitz, the propriety of a young lady wearing Trousers. As you know, modesty forbids us to reveal the shape of the Lower Limbs.”
If you do get a boyfriend, he's going to want to see a lot more than just the shape of your Lower Limbs, I argued silently. Fortunately, I reflected, the school year wouldn't start for another week-enough time, I hoped, to make her see reason.
“And don't you think you could call me Julie?" I continued. "We've known each other long enough, surely.”
“My dearest Julia, you are right, indeed you are right. After all, in Pride and Prejudice Miss Elizabeth Bennet addresses her bosom friend, Miss Lucas, by the name of Charlotte, and they are no more affectionately attached than the two of us. But please, my dear friend, allow me to continue. As I said, I believe I have the solution to our puzzle of where to find our heroes.”
“Our puzzle? It's not my puzzle,” I put in.
Ashleigh shook me by the arm, letting her language slip a bit in her impatience. “Will you listen already? In Pride and Prejudice, where do the younger Bennet girls turn for lively masculine company? Why, to the regiment of soldiers quartered near their home. Were we to follow their lead, where better to seek suitors than among our neighboring young men in uniform?” ...
Forefield, an exclusive boys' prep school, rises above the town of Byzantium both geographically and socially. Its main building, once the mansion of the Forefield family, can be seen from most of the town, including my attic window. As a little girl I thought it was an enchanted castle, the home of a witch or a princess. I now considered it the home of gawky boys with crests embroidered on their blazer pockets-that is, of snobs, dorks, adders, or (most likely) snobbish, dorky adders....
“You want to crash the Snoot School Dork Dance? Are you out of your candy wrapper? What could that possibly have to do with Jane Austen?”
“Surely, Miss Lefkowitz, you can see that a gathering of young gentlemen dressed in formal attire, well practiced in time-honored dance steps, and unaccustomed to the company of young ladies-and therefore bound to treat us with modesty and respect-is the ideal place to meet our matches. Can you be blind to the perfection of the plan?”
Perfection! If the plan had any, I certainly was blind to it. In my experience, at least, boys who hadn't spent a lot of time around girls were less likely, not more, to behave themselves. . . .
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