Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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. This second book takes place in the year 1804 (two years after Jane Austen’s last adventure in Scargrave). In this novel Mr. and Mrs. Austen travel to Lyme Regis with their two daughters on an extended holiday. Instead of strolling along The Cobb, frequenting the shops on Broad Street, and writing a few chapters in her new manuscript, our beloved author/Regency sleuth becomes embroiled in another mystery and spends her holiday traipsing about caves, visiting prisoners in the Lyme gaol, and gathering clues about a mysterious band of smugglers!
Having read several novels from Stephanie Barron’s excellent Being a Jane Austen Mystery Series there are three elements that I have found to be synonymous in all her novels. One is her exemplary emulation of Jane Austen’s voice. Stephanie Barron’s voice for Jane Austen is the perfect blend of intelligence, impertinence, and sarcasm. I know we have no way of knowing how accurate Stephanie Barron is in her portrayal, but my guess is she is pretty darn close!
Another element in Ms. Barron’s novels I always admire is the Regency atmosphere she envelopes you in with her story. With footnotes and vivid descriptions of dress, locations, and traditions it is clearly evident that Ms. Barron painstakingly researches every aspect of her novels.
The final element that occurs in every Stephanie Barron mystery is the harmonious meld of fact and fiction. Where fitting, Ms. Barron uses real events and people in her novels. Some of the facts in Jane and Man of the Cloth are that Jane Austen and her family really did travel to Bath in the summer of 1804, Cassandra really did stay with Henry and Eliza who traveled to Weymouth and Ibthorpe, and Jane really did encounter a Miss Armstrong, a Mr. Crawford, the Honorable Barnwalls, the servants Jenny and James, and a gentleman dubbed Le Chevalier during her stay in the summer of 1804.
Jane and the Man of the Cloth was a delightful blend of history, mystery, biography, and fiction. I enjoyed all the enlightening details about the practices of smuggling and loved that the mystery was such a difficult one for me to solve! I liked it a tad bit more than the other two Stephanie Barron mysteries I read (Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor and Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron) because of the smidgen of romance Ms. Barron gave to our beloved author. If there was one thing I would wish this series had more of, it would be romance! If you like historical mysteries and greatly admire Jane Austen, this series is for you!
This is my second completed item for the Being A Jane Austen Mystery Challenge hosted by Austenprose.