I felt a bit of trepidation about reading this one – I have been burned before (sometimes I even wonder if we are reading the same novels to start with!), however, this one is a pleasant surprise.
Here is the blurb …
A thrilling literary mystery co-starring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale.
Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.
Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
It is written in two different times – modern day and 1796 – one with Austen as the heroine and one with Sophie. It is a mystery (who is Richard Mansfield? and who can Sophie trust?), romance and historical fiction all rolled into one. It has a very interesting premise, which I won’t spoil for you, that I found to be plausible. The writing was lovely and swapped easily between the two time periods. My main issues were with plot – the villain was a tad too obvious and Jane Austen attended a funeral (women didn’t attend funerals in her day – pedantic I know).
It is an enjoyable to read and makes me want to read Pride and Prejudice again (not to mention Agatha Christie and several other novels mentioned in the text). It is a book for book lovers as well as Austen fans and would make a great movie.