Jane and the Man of the Cloth:
Being the Second Jane Austen Mystery
by Stephanie Barron

Paperback - 336 pages (December 1, 1997) 
Bantam Books; ISBN: 0553574892 

Paperback - 320 pages ( 7 May, 1998) 
Headline; ISBN: 0747253765

        Review by Jane Elizabeth, September 16, 1997
Jane and the Man of the Cloth.  This is the second in a series of Jane Austen mysteries, wherein the author reinvents Jane Austen as a Regency detective. Surprisingly, I found this to be one of the best Austen pastiches yet. The author cunningly inserts actual events from Austen's life into an invented tale, with witty footnotes that mix fact, fiction, and period flavor.  Perhaps because she is writing in a different genre, and using Jane herself rather than Jane's characters, she has a livelier touch and more irreverent voice than most of the sequels. Her sense of Jane clearly comes from the letters, and the character (written in the first person) is quite believable. If you can get past the whole slightly odd notion of using a great author as a sort of Miss Marple of the 19th century, this is an enjoyable read.

         Posted by MB on December 13, 1997 at 09:58:22:
Jane Barron is the author. The first one is Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, the second is Jane and the Man of the Cloth.

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 quite fun.

        Review by Carl W. Goss, January 10, 1998
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 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 Aja :) on June 09, 1998 at 14:07:16:
(BTW I didn't like the Jane mystery novels published recently, I thought them rather pretentious. does anyone agree?)

        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."

        Review by Linda Waldemar, October 12, 1998
I enjoyed this second Jane Austen mystery very much.  Although it is a stretch to imagine our JA hiding in caves and shooting a gun, it was told quite plausibly.

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.