Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

The premise of this book is that, in renovating an Austen family home, memoirs written by Jane Austen in the last years of her life are discovered, and that one set of them is published in this book. Of course no such memoirs have, as yet, been discovered. We know very little of the author's personal life outside of a biography written by a nephew, and those of her letters that have survived. We know that her sister cleansed the letters of anything she felt was questionable, so there is vast speculation about Jane's life.

In this book, the author speculates on the possibility of a very Mr. Darcy/Edward Ferrars/Captain Wentworth-esque romance for Jane later in her life than the short-lived young love we have all heard about with Tom Lefroy. This is a "what could have been" book. It is, I think, incredibly well done. From my limited knowledge of Jane Austen's life and times, it seems to me that this could have been is very plausibly entwined in what we believe to be true. It fits, it answers questions about the characters that came later in her books, and it feels Jane Austeny. A lot of the time Austen fiction gets the characters or the time right, but doesn't have the feel of her world and her world view. This one, I think, does that well.

For fans of Austen's own books, there are events and dialogue that offer a glimpse into how she might have found inspiration. There are familiar characters and settings. For fans of period writing in general, I think this also works as a pleasing story of women, their struggles, and their loves, in regency England.

Definitely one of the better non-Austen, Austen books I've read.


faerie-writer said...

Wow, what a GREAT idea for a novel! :D

MadJenny said...

A totally great idea! I can't believe no one did it before.