Jane Austen Mysteries
Posted by Carl W. Goss on January 10, 1998 at 00:55:02:
Just finished Stephanie Barron's Jane and the Man of the Cloth. A very nice work of mystery fiction interweaving real life family members, events culled from her letters and pivotal political events of her time.
I won't tell all, but the plot involves Aunt Jane, an overturned carriage (which starts the story) smugglers, the Dorset Coast, spies, French Royalists, early fossil hunters and a few narrow escapes. Very interesting mix. Various members of the Austen family living in or visiting Lyme in 1804 are portrayed. Mr and Mrs Austen seem to parallel Mr and Mrs Bennet in some respects. Aunt Jane and Aunt Cassandra are as devoted to each other as Elinor and Marianne. Like Marianne, Cassandra suffers a serious injury owing the overturning of the carriage. We meet Henry Austen and his delightful wife, Eliza, sometime Comtesse De Feuillide. I found the interplay between Eliza Austen and Aunt Jane very interesting and entertaining. Eliza Austen very sophisticated and very wise in the world.
Especially as regards men. I wish the author had included more of the Comtesse and more dialog between her an Aunt Jane concerning mem, women and the institution of marriage. During the period of the story, the author has Aunt Jane working on a draft of The Watsons , and portrayed a trying (with some difficulty) to deal with the character of Emma Watson.
The author includes a lot of interesting biographical and historical notes. A few unnecessary complex twists and turns but the novel really held my interest. Finished it in one reading. Recommend it to all. This is Ms Barron's second novel and is available from Jane Austen Books in Chicago. Ms Barron's first in the series is called Jane and the Unpleasantess at Scargrave Manor, but I havent been able to get a copy of it. Kirkus gave her first novel a very favorable review.
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