Paperback - 336 pages (December 1, 1997)
Bantam Books; ISBN: 0553574892
Paperback - 320 pages ( 7 May, 1998)
Headline; ISBN: 0747253765
I am probably more of a purist than many people here (I've been disappointed in all of the sequels that have come out), but I enjoyed them (especially the second one) thoroughly. Maybe they're like P&P0 : if you "forget" that it's supposed to be JA you can enjoy the story on its own merits.
Anyway, it is fun to read them and try to figure out which "future" JA characters Barron is trying to portray.
If you can get them cheap or (as I did) check them out of the library,
go for it. I wouldn't spend the money on a new hardback version, but they're
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 men, 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 Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, but I haven't been able to get a copy of it. Kirkus gave her first novel a very favorable review.
Posted by Mary L
on June 09, 1998 at 22:31:24:
Aja: I really enjoyed the two JA mystery novels I read recently! I found them entertaining, creative, and humorous, and I particularly enjoyed the author's insertion of JA commemts that were "later" used in her novels. Plus historical notes and devices that seemed quite apt and fun to find. So, as my father used to say, "De gustibus non est disputandem." (Pardon my tortured Latin): "There's no accounting for tastes."
As is the first mystery, Jane's sister(-in-law), Eliza, and her brother,
Henry, appear briefly. This time, we also meet her parents.
The senior Austens bear a resemblance to Mr and Mrs Bennet. Additionally,
we have a slight romance for our favourite author. All, in all, I
found this book to be a pleasant read.