|The Octagon Room, where Augusta and |
Joss first have a private conversation.
I was attracted to the book largely for its Bath location. I am a Jane Austen fan, so I have long been fascinated by the city that she enjoyed as a visitor but came to dislike as a resident. I was lucky enough to visit a couple years ago, so I loved reading scenes that were set in locations that I knew personally.
|The canal as seen from Sydney Gardens, where Joss and |
Augusta watched a punt passing beneath a footbridge.
This strongly resonated with me, because I experienced a similar emotional state some decades ago, during my first year after college. I was struggling to find a job so I could afford to move out of my parents' house. The grandmother who helped raise me succumbed to cancer, and a younger cousin who was also a close friend committed suicide. I was rather numb with grief, and I worried that leaning on my parents for emotional support would undermine my quest for independence.
My craving for human contact and distraction led me to a casual association that I would not have accepted otherwise. We didn't use the term friends-with-benefits in those days, but that is essentially how it began. Like Augusta, I fooled myself into believing that was all I needed, and I resisted admitting, even to myself, that I had become emotionally attached.
Although my story arc diverged quite a bit from Augusta's, and I rode an emotional roller coaster for about a year and a half, the ending was not dissimilar. I am still married to my former friend-with-benefits (and he is still my best friend).