Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Mysterious Death Of Miss Jane Austen by Lindsay Ashford

4 Star

When Jane Austen dies at the age of just 41, Anne, governess to her brother, Edward Austen, is devastated and begins to suspect that someone might have wanted her out of the way. Now, 20 years on, she hopes that medical science might have progressed sufficiently to assess the one piece of evidence she has - a tainted lock of Jane's hair. Natural causes or murder? Even 20 years down the line, Anne is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of the acclaimed Miss Austen.

Kaley - 4 Star

Will we ever really know what killed Jane Austen? Was it some sort illness as is commonly believed or was it something more? Something sinister? That’s the question the novel The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen by Lindsay Ashford tries to answer. While it is a fictionalized account, it makes one wonder what exactly happened to one of the world’s favourite authors.

I call myself an Austen fan but I will admit that I still haven’t read all six of her novels (it shouldn’t be a surprise that the two I haven’t read are Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park) and I don’t know a whole lot about her life (but I did watch Becoming Jane.) In fact, I had no idea Anne Sharp even existed before reading this novel and that, I think, made it even more interesting. I think because I’m not well versed in her personal life I found that I had to keep reminding myself that this was a novel, not a biography. We don’t know exactly what happened to Austen and why she died at such a young age, 41 for those who don’t know. It’s easy to think of these types of novels as truths so I tried to keep what I knew of Austen out of mind while I read it because I found I could enjoy it more as a story than a “what if” type account. Of course, that didn’t stop my mind from wandering and thinking about what it would mean if this was all true. Considering the conclusion Anne comes to, that is an intriguing and slightly shocking thought.

I did find that it was hard to keep track of time sometimes. The story spans at least a couple of decades (I was so confused that I am honestly not even sure what years the novel started and ended). It was easy to forget that time was moving on when the story focused on the adults but I would always get confused when one of the children were mentioned. Fanny, one of Jane’s nieces, was a preteen when the story started and I was always surprised later on in the book when she showed up and was in her twenties or thirties. I was surprised because it wasn’t clear that so much time had passed. This issue is probably the only negative I had with the novel.

The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen will definitely be more enjoyable for Austen fans but I think readers who like mystery novels could enjoy Lindsay Ashford’s novel as well. It’s encouraged me to read more biographies on Jane Austen to get an accurate and historical account – which Ashford suggests you do in the Author’s Note. Overall, this was an enjoyable read about a beloved author who has been entertaining and fascinating readers for over two hundred years. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Lindsay Ashford:


1 comment:

  1. I will be putting this on my "to read" list. Sounds like a novel I would love. :)



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