This is Lana Long’s first novel and is self-published. Finding Favor is classified as young adult fiction and is another Jane Austen-inspired work, this time from Mansfield Park.
Favor is about to turn eighteen and pursue her love of horticulture. She is living a life of material privilege, but emotional deprivation in the home of her guardians, the Browns, who took her in after the death of her father left her an orphan. Favor knows little about her family, other than what is contained in a series of journals that contain family stories of her father and grandfather. Favor’s mother is not a significant concern for her, which receives little explanation. Mr. Brown, a cold corporate type, knew Favor’s father, but in what capacity, she is unsure as he refuses to discuss her past. The Browns have three children: Tom, the party-boy eldest; Ethan, the sensitive middle child; and Madison, the spoiled baby with daddy issues. Actually, all three children have daddy issues as Mr. Brown is cold and distant to his biological children as well as Favor. Madison has tortured Favor at school and at home, going out of her way to emphasize her role as outsider. The reason for this cruelty, however, is later revealed to be her jealousy over the (negative) attention Favor receives from Mr. Brown. Negative attention is better than being ignored.
Favor is in love with Ethan, but the novel opens with Mr. Brown presenting her with a contract that requires her to stay out of Ethan’s life in exchange for the Browns funding Favor’s college years and using their contacts to secure an important internship. Favor agonizes over the contract and finally signs it on her 18th birthday. The split from Ethan is made easier when he falls for a neighbor’s granddaughter, newly returned from years in Paris (of course), Mary. Mary is sophisticated and very into saving the world, as long as someone is watching and the saving helps her make connections that will allow her to advance her career.
The plot outline is there from Austen, but Long’s characters remain one-dimensional. Ethan is whiny; Favor is a martyr; Tom transforms from bad boy to caring brother who sacrifices his own happiness for Favor and Ethan; Madison’s cruelty is excused by her father’s inadequate parenting; Mrs. Brown’s years of neglect (and cruelty) to Favor are excused with three hugs and some tears. Even Mr. Brown achieves character salvation by telling Favor the story of his connection to her family and promises to dole out more on a monthly basis.
It is also interesting to watch authors grow and see their writing mature. I look forward to seeing this for Lana Long.