A Credible and Commendable Representation of Jane Austen (if she was a sleuth!)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Amazon Vine
The Being A Jane Austen Mystery Series by Stephanie Barron is a brilliant series of novels that features our beloved Jane Austen being thrust into the midst of mystery, murder and mayhem. In each novel Jane Austen uses her astute observational skills, keen understanding of human nature, and fierce determination to solve various mysteries. Each novel follows the time line of Jane Austen’s career and accurately portrays true events and people from her life. Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron takes place in the spring of 1813. During this time, Jane Austen suffered tragedy as her beloved cousin Eliza de Feuillide passed away at the age of fifty-one. In this fictional retelling of that time, Jane and her brother Henry (Eliza’s husband) decide to escape their sorrow and travel to Brighton for some peaceful and lighthearted distractions! Unfortunately, Jane’s plans for walks, bathing machines, races, assemblies and other diversions immediately take a backseat when she meets a troubled, young ingénue by the name of Catherine Twining…
Poor Miss Twining always seems to be in peril, and the Austens always seem to be her rescue! Whether it is helping her escape from an attempted abduction, warding off lecherous old men, or shielding her from her father’s wrath, Henry and Jane are Miss Twining’s salvation! But what will become of the lovely Miss Twining when a passionate and persistent Lord Byron steps into the picture, and aggressively pursues her. Will Jane be able to save her friend from this scandalous and notorious genius?
As the tenth novel in this splendid series, I find it most apropos that Jane Austen should cross paths with the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” Lord Byron. In this tale, Ms. Barron blends Lord Byron’s and other historical figures’ true personalities with imagined circumstances in a style that is reminiscent of Georgette Heyer. I took great pleasure in meeting the adulterous Lady Oxford, witnessing the appalling acts of Lady Caroline Lamb, and encountering the seductive and brooding Lord Byron. However, where Ms. Barron’s talent truly shines is her emulation of Jane Austen’s voice and character. If you ever had qualms about novels that portray Jane Austen as a character, Ms. Barron’s authentic and meticulous representation of Miss Austen will banish any of your misgivings. I took great pleasure in “being inside the mind” of Jane Austen and seeing the actual events of her life interwoven with fiction.
While I loved the historical and Austenesque aspects of this novel, I found myself feeling a little disappointed with the mystery of this novel. It felt like there was a lack of suspense and complexity to the story. Jane seemed to have a relatively easy investigation; she was never in any danger and the suspects just opened up a little too readily. I hope the next novel in this series has a little more intrigue and thrill to it! Nonetheless, this is a remarkable series that should not be missed by Austen fans! I highly recommend! I’ll be looking forward to book eleven, Jane and the Canterbury Tale, in September 2011!
This is my first completed item for the Being A Jane Austen Mystery Challenge hosted by Austenprose.