Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
What if, after spending years of creating unions of perfect happiness and “marriages of true minds,” Jane Austen decided to pen a novel that closely mirrored her own experience with love?
What if Jane Austen had a great love affair where she experienced both undying, all-consuming love and heart-wrenching pain and disappointment?
What if Jane Austen’s last completed novel about lost love and second chances was more than just a little bit autobiographical?
Could you imagine it?!? How wonderful would it be to learn that our beloved authoress had known such love! To discover that someone appreciated, adored, and ardently admired her genius and person! While we may never know for sure the details of Jane Austen’s love life, it is always a merry diversion to imagine the possibilities…Crafting an alternative reality from known events and people in Jane Austen’s life and blending it with events and characters from Persuasion, Shannon Winslow creates a fantastic fictional tale of Jane Austen’s love affair with her very own Captain Wentworth that satisfyingly “reveals” the unknown love life of Jane Austen.
Utterly brilliant – this story is utterly brilliant! There just isn’t a better word to describe the thoughtful care and deliberation Shannon Winslow put into writing this story, her clever and credible blending of fact and fiction, and her exquisite way with words. Having read Persuasion several times, being familiar with Jane Austen’s biography and timeline, and reading other fictionalized accounts of Jane Austen’s life (Just Jane by Nancy Moser and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James), you’d think that I’d find the events of this tale easy to predict. Nope, not so much…Shannon Winslow capably keeps readers on their toes with her skillful and intricate weaving of the plot. This story encompasses so much more than a tale of love lost and parallels to Persuasion!
While I’ve always admired Shannon Winslow’s elegant prose and voice, I feel shel has elevated her talents to new heights through this novel. Stepping into Jane Austen’s shoes and trying to emulate her voice is no easy accomplishment, but Ms. Winslow does an incredible job capturing the essence of Jane Austen’s narrative voice and echoing her exceptional command of language. The narrative voice was illuminating, contemplative, and honest – it was our dear Jane bravely bearing her soul to us. The descriptions of events and emotions felt poetic and rich with the frequent usage of imagery, similies, and other poetic devices. The words just seemed to effortlessly tumble from the author’s pen, here are some favorites:
“For the moment, all I could see was the overwhelmingly bleak picture Madam Lefroy had painted of my future. It loomed large and ominous as a sky full of thunderclouds, obscuring everything else from view, even Captain Devereaux’s especial radiance.” – page 51
“Daily, the sea drew us like a powerful magnet, with not one amongst us able to resist its hypnotic attractions.” – page 98
“So shall their love be, the captain and his lady: bright, never ending, a life-giving force. It will warm all those who gather round them, bless all those who wish them well, and scorch with unquenchable fire any person who dares attempt to come between them. Anne and Captain Wentworth are incandescent; they are untouchable, living on forever in a state of bliss beyond the reach of most mere mortals. This is my gift to them.” – page 163
“His influence is everywhere apparent…to me, at least. His fingerprints and mine mingle on each page. The books are become our true offspring – his and mine together – for I could not have produced them without his help.” – page 173
*sigh* such evocative prose!
This poignant and powerful tale of fiction is the kind of story I hope to learn one day is proven true for our dear Jane. An incredibly well-written plausible reality that perfectly gratifies any reader’s desires for Jane Austen’s love life. I emphatically recommend!!