Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Review

"The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen" by Syrie James

From Many rumors abound about a mysterious gentleman said to be the love of Jane's life—finally, the truth may have been found. . . .

What if, hidden in an old attic chest, Jane Austen's memoirs were discovered after hundreds of years? What if those pages revealed the untold story of a life-changing love affair? That's the premise behind this spellbinding novel, which delves into the secrets of Jane Austen's life, giving us untold insights into her mind and heart.

Jane Austen has given up her writing when, on a fateful trip to Lyme, she meets the well-read and charming Mr. Ashford, a man who is her equal in intellect and temperament. Inspired by the people and places around her, and encouraged by his faith in her, Jane begins revising Sense and Sensibility, a book she began years earlier, hoping to be published at last.

Deft and witty, written in a style that echoes Austen's own, this unforgettable novel offers a delightfully possible scenario for the inspiration behind this beloved author's romantic tales. It's a remarkable book, irresistible to anyone who loves Jane Austen—and to anyone who loves a great story.

The plot of James' novel is a dazzling combination of Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice. James' novel is not only rife with allusions to Austen's work, but it suggests to the reader that her works were based on her life experiences. Falling in love at first sight with Mr. Ashford, and being thwarted by fate is the basis of Austen's novel Sense & Sensibility. This novel also has many of the characters and distinguishing landmarks of Pride & Prejudice. James further sets the stage for Austen's other works, referencing the matchmaking in Emma and the popularity of novels in Northanger Abbey. James nimbly captures the very essence of Austen's writing and breadth of her works, and flawlessly makes it her own.

Jane Austen veraciously studied people, realizing that the smallest details bring a character to life. This humanity and passion is what makes each of Austen's characters so special. James accomplished this very thing with the characterization of Austen. She is portrayed as thoughtful, passionate, intelligent and romantic. Everything that a fan would desire her to be. Giving, but not selfless. Saucy, but not derisive. Austen herself becomes the quintessential romantic heroine.

James also achieves much through the setting of this work. A Jane Austen fan will recognize the description of Chawton Cottage as being similar to the Dashwood's cottage in Sense & Sensibility. Many of Austen's travels echo those of Elizabeth's in Pride & Prejudice. James has clearly done her homework, making the reader acutely aware of the early 1800's lifestyle, manner and language.

I have always been a fan of Jane Austen. I have set of her works in hardcover that are treasured. Pride & Prejudice is my favorite, I've read it many times. I don't know a woman who isn't in love with everything that Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth represent. The latest movie adaption of Pride & Prejudice is outstanding, and one that I could watch over and over. This book, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, is almost akin to introducing one to Jane herself. The author achieves her purpose in these Memoirs, so well, in fact, that I'm still a little shocked that it's not real, and that Austen didn't write this herself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should write book reviews for a living...