Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Biographical Fiction, Jane Austen as a Main Character
SETTING: Our story is recounted from memory beginning in the year 1807, and takes place in many towns and counties in England.
Remember that story about the unnamed gentleman Jane Austen met at the seaside and how Cassandra believed that gentleman “to be worthy to possess and likely to win her sister’s love?” Well, what if someone found a hidden secret memoir that revealed all the secrets about this mysterious man and his encounters with Jane Austen…
WHAT I LOVED:
- Fulfilled My Dearest Hope: I’m a hopeless romantic. I can’t deny it. And I’ve always held onto the hope that my favorite authoress somehow experienced a love similar to the ones she bestowed upon many of her characters. Not because I think she must have experienced love herself to have such inspired insight into all matters of the heart, but because I want it for her. I want to know she felt all the amazing and joyful feelings that finding true love brings. Thanks to Syrie James, we have the chance to envision that hope realized as she gives Jane Austen a love story that she deserves.
- Mr. Frederick Ashford: Our unnamed gentleman easily won my heart during his first encounter with dear Jane. With his charming character, engaging manners, quick mind, and warm congeniality he seemed to unite some of the best hero qualities in existence, and yet he had some flaws. I found him to be everything I would want for Jane, but what I loved most about him was his excited support of her dreams of becoming a novelist. I loved how he was encouraging and honest with her about her writing, and how important it was to him that she not give up.
- Plausible, Thoughtful, Engrossing: I really appreciated how Syrie James crafted her story to fit in what we know of Jane Austen’s life. I’m sure making it fit the proper timeline and the inclusion of known events and travels made constructing this story a little bit challenging, but in my opinion it was very well executed. The encounters with Mr. Ashford were believable and their whole relationship felt authentic and in accord with the time period. I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction because I was so easily swept up in the mindset that these events really did happen!
- Fact, Fiction, and Extras: The back matter at the end of the story was extensive and disclosed what was truth and what was fiction, information about Jane Austen’s life, discussion questions, and an interview with Syrie James. It was really interesting to learn what really happened and what was the author’s imagination.
- A Lovely Homage: I loved seeing the nods to Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility in this tale. While it is indisputable that Jane Austen has a very vivid and creative imagination, it is plausible and fun to imagine that Jane Austen encountered some people and situations similar to those that we later see in her novels. Like Mr. Collins, come on… I bet she knew someone just a little bit like him!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
That Syrie James can’t make this story become a reality, I really do wish it was true!
In her first brilliant Austen-Inspired novel, Syrie James delivers an expressive and poignant love story for Jane Austen. Faced with the daunting challenge of emulating Jane Austen’s voice and constructing a plausible story around real-life events and people, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen wonderfully showcases Syrie James’s creativity and skills as an author. A compelling and enchanting read!