Title: The Trouble with Flirting
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Synopsis: Franny’s supposed to be working this summer, not flirting. But you can’t blame her when guys like Alex and Harry are around. . . .
Franny Pearson never dreamed she’d be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she’s not, exactly. She’s working for her aunt, the resident costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her crush, Alex Braverman. If only he were as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is with his new leading lady.
When Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt, shows more than a friendly interest in Franny, she figures it can’t hurt to have a little fun. But as their breezy romance grows more complicated, can Franny keep pretending that Harry is just a carefree fling? And why is Alex suddenly giving her those deep, meaningful looks? In this charming tale of mixed messages and romantic near-misses, one thing is clear: Flirting might be more trouble than Franny ever expected.
Sam’s review: The Trouble With Flirting is my first foray into Claire LaZebnik’s work, and I have to say: she managed to win me over. As a retelling of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, I feel like LaZebnik does a great job of breathing life into the characters with contemporary style. While I do not hate Mansfield Park, I admit to the fullest that I found it to be Jane Austen’s most difficult book to read. However, I feel like you get all the selfish, neurotic behaviors highlighted splendidly in this novel, just as you do in Austen’s classic.
Let’s me throw this out there: I didn’t feel like anyone is truly likeable in Mansfield Parkand this definitely gets carried over into The Trouble With Flirting. Selfishness and popularity are the true motivations of a lot of the characters, except for Franny (Fanny) Pearson. Franny just wants to enjoy what life has to offer and not constantly be reminded that because she’s poor and at the bottom of the food chain.
I loved LaZebnik’s portrayal of the cast. She reminds us how horrific, selfish and self-absorbed a lot of the characters are, but she humanizes them in such ways that you hate them, but you also understand their motivations and mannerism a touch more clearly. Franny seems like less of a doormat compared to Fanny, as she is able to speak her mind more and push herself to become a stronger, more well versed person, unlike FannyMansfield Park, where it takes a good chunk of the novel before she truly finds her balls. I admit though, I love the growth that Austen gives Fanny, because you understand and see how truly hopeless her situation is, unlike Franny, who doesn’t recognize that it’s hopeless, but rather she refuses to let it become that.
I will admit, I wasn’t huge on Alex or Harry. Although there’s a love triangle in this story, it’s one that I found myself enjoying. Franny is not perfect, she has two boys to choose from, one who is her middle-school crush, and the other who is a notorious flirt. Truthfully, I HATED Edmund in Austen’s classic, and I never liked that he simply “realizes he loves Fanny” (to me that comes across more like he simply settles for her), but here we see LaZebnik give Harry a bit more personality, and he doesn’t just settle for Franny, but he grows to love and accept who she is. Alex comes across more of a doormat compared to Harry, but I think LaZebnik justifies that behavior for him considering Isabella is kind of a diva, wanting the world to bend over backwards. I love how at the end of the novel Isabella exposes who she really is, and it’s so perfectly handled that I actually liked her character a lot in the end.
This may be my first Clarie LaZebnik’s work, and first Jane Austen retelling, but I know on both accounts it won’t be my last on either front. I feel like LaZebnik did an amazing job being completely true to the source material, while also taking liberties when necessary to make Mansfield Park work in the confines of her story. It has its slow moments, but once the story hits its stride, it soars. I loved LaZebnik’s portrayal of characters, I loved how she incorporated it into a contemporary story. The Trouble With Flirting is such an engaging and fluffy read, and I look forward to checking out the rest of Clarie LaZebnik’s books.
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