I did not think I was a fan of Jane Austen, and I still am not sure I am. But I am a fan of Riverside author Karen Doornebos, who penned the novel Undressing Mr. Darcy, based on the character Fitzwilliam Darcy from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. 

The book, published in 2013, is the second book based on the Austen characters from Doornebos. I became familiar with her when I read a book review of her work in the Chicago Tribune. I knew it would be a chance for a column and a chance to make a new friend. Which, happily I can say it has.

The author is the married mother of two high school-age children. Raised in the Beverly area of Chicago, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a major in English and a minor in French. 

Armed with her degrees she worked for Greenpeace and armed with a one-way ticket and at the age of 22 she found herself in London with a job as a writer. Her writing at the time was mainly in the field of employee communications.

Doornebos’ return to the United States found her expanding her writing skills and she became an award-winning ad copywriter.

Her first book, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy from 2011 is now published in three countries. Due to her interest in Jane Austen, Doornebos is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She’s working on a new book that won’t be Austen-related, she said.

The list of critics giving praise to Undressing Mr. Darcy prods me to give my opinion, though I am not a recognized critic. The book was an enjoyable read with characters that were believable and became visual, which led me to think the novel would be a delightful movie. The story line caught my attention within the first three pages, which made it easy for me to continue the journey of the main character.

I still don’t know if I will read Jane Austen, but I will read Karen Doornebos’ first novel and look forward to her next book. Learn more about her at karendoornebos.com.

To share her love of writing, Doornebos conducts a writing club for teenagers at the Riverside Public Library, meeting once or twice a month. 

Those interested may attend on a drop-in basis and can learn more about meeting times by contacting the Public Riverside Library at 708-442-6366.