Jane Austen a Regency Sleuth??? Yeah… I Could See Her Doing That
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
In this brilliant mystery series by Stephanie Barron our heroine, Jane Austen, finds herself embroiled in continuous mayhem, murder, and mystery. This first book in this series takes place right after Jane Austen accepted and rejected a marriage proposal from Harris Bigg-Wither, and is presented as a collection of lost letters and journals penned by Jane Austen.
Departing from the Bigg-Withers’ home earlier than intended, Jane embarks upon a visit to her dear friend of 18 months, Countess Isobel Payne, at her new home, Scargrave Manor. Jane anticipates a pleasant visit with her newly married friend complete with a ball in Isobel’s honor. What she doesn’t expect is for two mysterious deaths to plague Scargrave Manor and for the evidence of both these murders to implicate Isobel’s involvement. In an attempt to clear Isobel’s name and save her from the gallows, Jane Austen sets out to solve the mysterious murders of Scargrave Manor…
Jane Austen and mystery? What an ingenious combination! I found it very plausible for Jane Austen to be depicted as a sleuth; she has a keen mind, isn’t a simpering female who faints at the talk of death, and is an excellent observer of human nature and folly. I loved that Jane Austen was accurately and respectfully portrayed in this novel and I greatly enjoyed how Ms. Barron successfully wove together a fictitious plot, real events from Jane Austen’s life, and a precise representation of the historical time period. I was pleased that Ms. Barron attempted to keep within the manners and social customs of the Regency time period. Sometimes though, the manners or social rules were broken, such as Jane Austen repeatedly being in the company of a man unaccompanied. This, however, did not hinder my enjoyment of this novel. Furthermore, I enjoyed the frequent footnotes she included to help us readers in the 21st century who may not know what Le Beau Monde or pattens were.
I loved how well constructed and engaging the mystery was in this novel. Stephanie Barron is very adept in creating all sorts of suspicious and intriguing characters and I delighted in learning all their secrets and mysteries. In addition, I liked how unpredictable and unexpected the outcome of the mystery was. I was unable to predict who was the culprit until the very end, but then again I’m no Nancy Drew or Jane Marple.
I recommend this series for open-minded readers who are looking for a fast-paced mystery with a bit of adventure. Be warned though, that this is not a representation of the real Jane Austen, this is Stephanie Barron’s attempt to emulate Jane Austen as a Regency sleuth. In addition, don’t expect to be educated about Jane Austen’s life and novels in this work of fiction; do expect see our dear Jane Austen adroitly and cleverly tackle some mysteries and resolve the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor.