Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Jane Austen must have had some secrets. With information about her life being “famously scarce”1 and a large majority of her correspondence being destroyed and censored, one can understandably make the conjecture that there are some things the Austen family did not want the world to know about dear Jane. But the unanswered question remains: what did they not want the world to know? Love affairs? Painful hardships? Illness? What are the secrets of Jane Austen's life?
Critically acclaimed and best-selling author, Syrie James has once again fictitiously uncovered the hidden mysteries of Jane Austen's life. In her outstanding 2007 release, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, Ms. James pens a memoir that illustrates the “secret” love affair between Jane Austen and an unknown man she meets by the seaside. In her latest release, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, she brings to light a seventh novel written by Jane Austen in 1802. A manuscript that no one except Cassandra knew about. A manuscript that was lamentably lost from Jane Austen's possession and never rewritten or discovered...until now.
Another impressive and ingenious release from Syrie James! I love how adeptly and thoughtfully Syrie James blends together actual events and circumstances in Jane Austen's life with her own clever imaginings. Ms. James creates a story so authentic and credible that this reader often forgets she is reading a work of fiction! On more than one occasion I found myself desperately hoping this novel was reality and that this story would come true! (Who knows, maybe it will...)
While the first part of the novel involves the mystery, speculation, and discovery of the missing manuscript, the second part, where the characters sit down and read every blessed word of the manuscript, is when the author's talent really shines. The Stanhopes is an absorbing, reflective, and remarkable work of fiction that masterfully captures the essence and style of a Jane Austen novel. Using Jane Austen's satirical “Plan of a Novel” as guide and inspiration, Ms. James's creation is one filled with realistic and lovable characters, keen observations of human nature, and a few tender and turbulent romances. I think my favorite aspect of The Stanhopes was spotting the parallels between Jane Austen's life and that of her characters of which there were many. I'd like to think that if Jane Austen did write a novel during her first years in Bath that it would be a lot like The Stanhopes – full of introspection, change, and experiencing trials. It probably would have been a therapeutic release for her.
Whatever the secrets of Jane Austen's life are, I hope they are wonderful – just like the ones created by Syrie James. I'm so thankful to Syrie James for crafting stories like this that let readers dream, wish, and fantasize about their favorite authors. I sincerely hope she “uncovers” another lost or secret item from some historical or literary figure real soon!
1 Fergus, "Biography", Jane Austen in Context, 3–4
~ My Reviews for Syrie James Novels ~
GIVEAWAY!!! Syrie James was kind enough to stop by here last Friday and share some helpful writing advice. In conjunction with her guest post and my review I get to give away one lovely new copy of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen to ONE lucky winner!
To win this LOVELY prize all you have to do is comment below.
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If you are interested in DOUBLING your chances to win, go read Syrie's guest post from Friday and leave a comment there too!