Thursday, June 17, 2010
Title: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
Author: Syrie James
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2008
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.
In her foreword Syrie James writes " I felt a great responsibility to remain true to Jane Austen's known history, and to accurately represent not only her, but her real-life friends and family members." and how beautifully she has succeeded in doing that. The love and respect she feels for her subject are evident in every paragraph as she writes , not only about Jane, but as Jane herself.
The memoir is being written in Jane's later years when she is ill and feels the need "to relate, in pen and ink, a relationship of the most personal nature".
It is while staying in Lyme in the early 1800's that Jane meets her true love, the well-read and charming Mr Ashford, a man who is her equal in intellect and temperament. Despite their love there would be no happy ending and their hopes for marriage must be sacrificed because of Mr Ashford's family obligations.At this time Jane had given up her writing and her dream of being a published author but Mr Ashford's faith in her work inspires her to begin revising Sense and Sensibility. There would be many changes as Jane transfers her now awakened feelings of love and passion into the hearts of her characters.It's not only a love story but also a picture of the daily and social world that Jane, her mother and sister moved in ,which vividly brings the Regency period to life. An era when it wasn't easy to be an unmarried woman , a woman with a dream of having her books published.
The novel is a blend of fiction and fact and the author has added many footnotes to the pages explaining the references to passages from Jane's books and her personal papers. There are also lots of extras to interest the reader- an Austen family tree, a study guide and Jane quotations, an author interview and a book list.
Meticulously researched and written in a style so like that of Jane Austen I was totally captivated from the beginning with this entrancing story despite the fact I'm not keen on spin-offs. I would wholeheartedly recommend it not only to Austen lovers but for those who may think Jane Austen is not for them as an ideal introduction to her world.
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 9:24 AM