Thursday, February 10, 2011
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor
Title: Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor
Author: Stephanie Barron
For everyone who loves Jane Austen...a marvelously entertaining new series that turns the incomparable author into an extraordinary sleuth!
On a visit to the estate of her friend, the young and beautiful Isobel Payne, Countess of Scargrave, Jane bears witness to a tragedy. Isobel's husband—a gentleman of mature years—is felled by a mysterious and agonizing ailment. The Earl's death seems a cruel blow of fate for the newly married Isobel. Yet the bereaved widow soon finds that it's only the beginning of her misfortune...as she receives a sinister missive accusing her and the Earl's nephew of adultery—and murder. Desperately afraid that the letter will expose her to the worst sort of scandal, Isobel begs Jane for help. And Jane finds herself embroiled in a perilous investigation that will soon have her following a trail of clues that leads all the way to Newgate Prison and the House of Lords—a trail that may well place Jane's own person in the gravest jeopardy.
I'd never heard of these books until I decided to try the challenge this year and I am so glad I did. The premise is that the author is acting as an editor of a journal which Jane Austen used to relate several times where her wit and connections allowed her to take part as a sort of amateur detective and help find out the truth in complicated and mysterious situations where crimes had been committed. I thought it sounded a little far-fetched considering the roles of women during the times, but the author pulls it off in a very believable fashion. Not only that, but the tone and writing have a rhythm and certain phrases that make you feel the similarity to Austen's writing.
The story itself is very interesting and the mystery is good enough that you begin to wonder whether Jane will succeed in solving it. It's fun to see her discover how many wrong conclusions people (including herself) have come to along the way by having only part of the information.
The only drawback was that Jane was certainly the star of the show and the other characters didn't seem as fully developed. They may have had some fun quirks or you may have disliked them, but in general they seemed more like a chorus line that stood in the background for Jane. Much of that may be because we really don't spend much time with them. The book is designed as her journal entry - so it is Jane's voice and her perspective we see events through.
I LOVED this book and can't wait to read the rest in the series. If you like Jane Austen and/or mysteries, this series would probably be a great one for you to try.
Posted by Margaret Metz at 3:03 AM