Jane Austen’s First Love – Syrie James

JaneFrom Goodreads.com: Inspired by Actual Events
Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

Published: August 2014

Why I Chose It: I thought a Jane Austen story in the style of Jane Austin sounded excellent!

The Review:

It was an enjoyable experience reading this book. I’ve never looked into Jane Austen’s live in detail, so it was really interesting for me to read about real places that Austen would have visited, and real people that she met. It certainly seemed that James put a lot of research into Austen’s background and pulled a lot of material from Austen’s letters to make a story that felt authentic. The story really brought Jane to life, and I found it very pleasing that the book was in Austen’s own style.

I can appreciate how the story draws connections between events that (may) have happened in Austen’s life and elements that appear in her stories. James put a lot of thought into making several events from Austen’s stories appear in one magical summer. It does seem logical that Austen would pull material from real events, and it was interesting seeing her characters meshed with James characters, who were based on real people. As an Austen fan, I found it very interesting to read.

One such segment is when Jane and her friends decide to put on a play (much like in Austen’s own Mansfield Park). Unfortunately this is where the story really derailed for me. Jane is manipulating her friends, trying to match-make different couples, disregarding both emotions and engagements entirely. I found her character incredibly meddling, but also extremely naive and irrational. I generally find it hard to enjoy a book when I don’t like the main character, and I found by this point in the story I no longer liked Jane. It’s rather unfortunate because I really liked the story up until this point.

Overall Jane Austen’s First Love was an enjoyable read. She’s a sweet girl and is very curious about the world, and it’s easy to see the writer in her. As an Austen fan it was very lovely to read all about the places and people she saw, as well as James’ creativity in creating a world that inspired Jane to write. While the book does have some flaws, I did enjoy it, and I think many Austen fans will find a certain charm to it.

Rating: 4 / 5

Quotations

“A good novel – a well-written novel – not only entertains the reader with effusions of wit and humour, it touches the emotions and conveys a comprehensive understanding of human nature – all via the simple and remarkable act of transmitting words on a page – while at the same time displaying, in the best-chosen language, the greatest powers of the human mind.” p 82

“I cannot believe that wealth, class, and status are irrevocable impediments to love. Where true love reigns, I believe anything is possible.” p 137

“It seems that a young lady, if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.” p 139

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