First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett – A Review

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )From the desk of Ruth Anderson:

Jane Austen’s unparalleled wit, biting social commentary, and sharply-drawn characters have transformed works that were once private scribblings, shared only with family, to classics beloved the world over. For the spinster daughter of a clergyman, Jane Austen’s work has proven to have a remarkable staying power, the unforgettable characters and storylines having been indelibly imprinted on the public consciousness, giving rise to a wide array of interpretations – from stage plays to films – as well as sequels or spin-offs. When I was approached with the opportunity to review Charlie Lovett’s First Impressions, I was simultaneously intrigued and wary, as it promised to address the creation of two of my most beloved characters in all of literature – Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Happily, Lovett’s charming sophomore effort won me over on all counts. This is both a loving homage to the enduring power and appeal of Austen’s stories and the passion that her works inspire, but the power of story. Bibliophiles of the type featured within these pages such as Lovett’s heroine Sophie are uniquely wired to grasp the inherent power and potential of words, and of how stories can forge connections across time and experience, knitting together authors and those who love their words in a community of common ground birthed from the shared reading experience, no matter how varied the respective interpretation.

First Impressions is a dual-narrative, a difficult feat to pull off successfully in my reading experience. In these cases, typically one half of the story thread resonates more strongly than the other, but here Lovett proves equally adept at balancing his contemporary narrative with the historical thread. The historical portion of the novel introduces a young Jane Austen, crica 1796, deep in the first draft of Elinor and Marianne, the epistolary novel that would serve as the genesis for Sense and Sensibility. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Richard Mansfield, an elderly and retired clergyman whom she is shocked to discover shares her passion for novels. Despite the wide disparity in their age and experience, Jane and the reverend prove to be a meeting of remarkably like minds from which a fast friendship is born. This friendship, and the trust that comes to underscore their every interaction, transforms Jane’s life as Reverend Mansfield becomes the staunchest support of Jane’s writing efforts (outside of her family). When Jane confesses a secret shame to her friend and mentor, a story called “First Impressions” is birthed from their joint project of reconciliation and redemption – the genesis of a love story between one Elizabeth Bennet and one Fitzwilliam Darcy.

The contemporary thread of the novel tells the story of Sophie Collingwood, a lifelong book lover and recent Oxford graduate, facing the daunting task of deciding what to do with the rest of her life post-studies. A self-described outsider in her family, as a child Sophie found a kindred spirit in her Uncle Bertram, a bright spot of imagination in her less-than-bookishly inclined family. Bertram taught Sophie to love books and to savor both the experience of reading and collecting cherished favorites. When tragedy strikes, Sophie finds herself heir to Bertram’s legacy determines to solve the mystery of his death. Armed with an extensive knowledge of books both rare and classic, Sophie embarks on a career in bookselling, marrying her passion for the printed word with her need for both work and an outlet for her grief – and the ever-growing certainty that her uncle’s passing had something to do with his book collection.

Potential suitors are introduced – one of the prickly-but-honorable Darcy variety, and one a slick customer in an appealing, hard to deny package reminiscent of Wickham or Willoughby. Sophie’s romantic options prove inextricably entangled in a shocking discovery that could set the literary world on fire and upend a multimedia empire built on Austen’s legacy. When she discovers indications that Austen may have stolen the story concept that would become Pride and Prejudice from an unknown clergyman named Mansfield, she’s devastated by the implication and determined to prove her literary idol’s innocence. But this bombshell proves to be more dangerous than simply threatening the hearts of Austen’s legions of fans – this is a literary coup that someone feels is worth killing for to acquire.

Sophie’s increasingly dangerous quest to prove the provenance of Austen’s work is seamlessly woven alternating chapters detailing Austen’s progression to full-fledged, publish author, and the indelible impact her friendship with Mansfield had on her life. As a mystery, First Impressions is a gently paced one, perfectly tailored to appeal to fans of classic cozy mysteries such as Agatha Christie – the types of works that are as endlessly in demand as Masterpiece Theater adaptations as Austen’s own tales.  But more than any mystery or love story that unfolds within these pages, Lovett has crafted a tale that pays tribute to a bibliophile’s love affair with the written word. Sophie and Jane’s experiences, separated by centuries, are tied together by a single common thread – the power of story to transcend barriers of age, class, and experience to enrich, empower, and transform. First Impressions is a wholly charming, fresh look at old and familiar literary friends, and Lovett is an author I’m thrilled to have met via these pages.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett
Viking (Penguin Group USA) 2014
Hardcover and eBook (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0525427247

Cover image courtesy of Viking Adult © 2014; text Charlie Lovett © 2014, Austenprose.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Giveaway Winners Announced for First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )It’s time to announce the 3 winners of hardcover copies of First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

  • Missyisms who left a comment on Oct 21, 2014
  • Ladysusanpdx who left a comment on Oct 20, 2014
  • Cozynookbks who left a comment on Oct 21, 2014

Congratulations to the winners! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by November 5, 2014 or you will forfeit your prize! Shipment to US addresses only. One winner per IP address.

Thanks to all who left comments, to author Charlie Lovett for his guest blog, and to his publisher Viking (Penguin Group USA) for the giveaways.

Cover image courtesy of Viking (Penguin Group USA) © 2014; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2014, Austenprose.com

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery – Virtual Book Launch Party with Author Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twleve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron 2014 x 200We are very excited to welcome Austenesque author Stephanie Barron to Austenprose today for the virtual book launch party of her new novel, Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, the twelfth installment in the fan-favorite Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.

Ardent readers of Austenprose will remember that I am a huge fan of this fabulous series featuring Jane Austen as a sleuth – so much so that we celebrated  2011 with the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge, including all eleven novels in the series to date. It was great fun only dampened by the possibility that the eleventh mystery, Jane and the Canterbury Tale, might be the last in the series. Imagine my delight when I heard the news that Soho Press would be publishing the next mystery!

The three year wait was torture, but now Stephanie Barron’s darling child has arrived in grand style. We are so thrilled that she has honored us with this fabulous guest blog revealing her inspiration to write the novel based on actual history, and Jane Austen of course.

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

“Vivid characters propel the subtle plot to its surprising conclusion. The first-person narration captures Austen’s tone as revealed in her letters: candid, loving, and occasionally acerbic.” – stared review by – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“[A]n excellent period mystery for all historical fiction fans … Jane Austen devotees will especially appreciate immersing themselves in the many biographical details about Austen that accompany the fictional murder mystery.” – LIBRARY JOURNAL 

“Sings with not just a good plot but courtly language and an engaging group of characters worthy of the famed novelist herself … a first-rate mystery with so many twists and turns that you can hardly blame a reader who doesn’t figure it out until the end.” – THE DENVER POST 

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING STEPHANIE BARRON 

Keeping Christmas with Jane

This year on December 24th we celebrate not just Christmas Eve, but a very special bicentennial: the two hundredth anniversary of the signing of…the Treaty of Ghent.

Signing of the Treaty of Ghent 1814 by Amédée Forestier

Signing of the Treaty of Ghent, by Amédée Forestier (1814)

Alert history buffs will note immediately that two of the men pictured above are vaguely recognizable. At center is John Quincy Adams, then serving as US Ambassador to Russia. Shaking his hand is Admiral of the Fleet, James Gambier—or “Dismal Jimmy” as he was called in the Royal Navy. The Admiral was known for his pious habits and dour command of Britannia’s waves. Standing behind him are his lieutenants—let’s call one of them John Gage.  He’s holding a dispatch case, which eventually proves his undoing.

The treaty signed that Christmas Eve ended the War of 1812. We remember the conflict for two things: Dolley Madison hustling through the burning White House with George Washington’s portrait under her arm, and Francis Scott Key setting a national anthem to an old tavern song. But the British knew this was a war that should never really have happened. It was a waste of their time from start to finish, despite the razing of our nation’s capital. The Royal Navy suffered surprising defeats that suggested we might one day challenge their mastery of the sea. The Treaty of Ghent proved largely in America’s favor. And the Duke of Wellington fretted over the fact that his brother-in-law was killed in the conflict, while his crack Peninsular troops were marching far too far from home.

Jane Austen

Portrait of Jane Austen

Even Jane Austen was annoyed by the whole thing.  She wrote to Martha Lloyd September 2, 1814, that the Americans “cannot be conquered,” and that by engaging them on land and sea, “we shall only be teaching them the skill in War which they may now want. We are to make them good Sailors & Soldiers, & gain nothing ourselves.”  She went on to say that she placed her faith in the fact that England was improving in religion, despite all its evils, which she could not believe true of Americans; so much for her good opinion.

Jane kept up with the political and international news of the day because she had two brothers in the Royal Navy. She also was quite familiar with Dismal Jimmy. Admiral Gambier was one of Capt. Frank Austen’s patrons, and he was married to Louisa Mathew, whose cousin Ann was James Austen’s first wife. The Gambiers and the Mathews formed part of the closely interwoven society of northern Hampshire, the area around Steventon where Jane spent her girlhood—and indeed, spent the Christmas Season of 1814. I had only to connect Dismal Jimmy, the treaty, and Jane Austen to realize there was a book in the business somewhere. The result is JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.

Which brings us to the real point of this essay: Parties.

The Georgian Christmas was nothing like ours, which is essentially an invention of Queen Victoria and her German Albert. The Georgian—and by extension, Regency Christmas—began on Christmas Day and carried on with games and dances and multi-course meals and gifts and great clothes until Twelfth Night, the eve of January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany.  During those twelve days, everyone paid calls on one another, drifted innocently under pagan sprigs of mistletoe, drank rum punch against the bitter cold, and got up impromptu parties in various drawing-rooms. They also planned their costumes for the culminating treat: the Twelfth Night Ball. This looked a lot like our Mardi Gras. Social norms were inverted; master became servant, servant became master, ladies paraded as gentlemen and gentlemen teetered in high heels beneath their gowns. Children played Kings and Queens and had toddlers for their Court. Jane’s Ball is held at The Vyne, home of the Chute family and one of the great houses in the Steventon neighborhood.

Illustration of The Vyne in Hampshire circa 1800

Illustration of The Vyne in Hampshire, England circa 1800

William Chute was a member of parliament, but is best remembered as Master of the Vyne Hunt, of which James Austen was an enthusiastic member. The Vyne Hunt traditionally met on the Feast of St. Stephen—December 26th, now known as Boxing Day in England. Seen below are the Heathcotes of Hursley Park: Sir William, 3rd baronet, and his sons Thomas and William, in their Vyne hunting jackets.  William Heathcote married Jane’s friend Elizabeth Bigg in 1798 and widowed her, sadly, only four years later.

Heathcoastes of Hurley Park by Sir Willaim Daniel Gardner 1790

 Heathcoastes of Hursley  House,  Hampshire by Daniel Gardner circa 1790

A blizzard and the unexpected arrival of John Gage with his dispatch box forestall the Hunt’s plans in JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. There are compensations, however. Jane enjoys her stay at The Vyne, with its excellent conversation, its flowing wine, its comfortable fires and its consoling library—not to mention one intriguing fellow guest: Mr. Raphael West. The eldest son of the Royal Academy founder and revered artist, Benjamin West, Raphael has journeyed into Hampshire to paint William Chute. But when a body is discovered in the snowy drifts of the park, Jane gives full rein to her suspicions. Is West merely a painter? Or adept in the art of murder?

Here he is, left, in a portrait by his father.

Raphael West and Benjamin West Jr., Sons of the Artist, by Benjamin West, c 1796

 Raphael West and Benjamin West Jr., Sons of the Artist, by Benjamin West, c. 1796

AUTHOR BIO

Author Stephanie BarronStephanie Barron is the author of  JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, the twelfth in the series of Jane Austen Mysteries, which Kirkus hails as “charming, literate and unequaled,” the New York Times calls “genteelly jolly,” and Entertainment Weekly applauds for “echoing the rhythms of the Austen novels with uncanny ease.”  Oprah put Jane on her list of “Ten Mystery Novels Every Woman Should read,” while Publishers Weekly simply says: “Superb.”

A graduate of Princeton and Stanford, Stephanie studied European history and spent four years at the CIA. She also writes as Francine Mathews; the New Yorker called Mathews’ JACK 1939 “the most deliciously high-concept thriller imaginable.”   Ian Fleming gets the spy treatment next in the forthcoming World War II thriller TOO BAD TO DIEStephanie/Francine lives in Denver, Colorado, where she is currently writing JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP, set at Carlton House In the autumn of 1815.

Website          Facebook        Goodreads

ASK AUTHOR STEPHANIE BARRON A QUESTION OR LEAVE A COMMENT

TO ENTER A GRAND GIVEAWAY

In celebration of the release of Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, please enter a giveaway chance for one of five hardcover copies signed by Stephanie Barron available by asking the author a question today, October 28th, or by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about this new mystery, or which one of the previous novels in the series is your favorite by 11:59 pm, Wednesday, November 5, 2014. Winners will be announced on Thursday, November 6, 2014. Shipment to US addresses. Good luck to all!

Many thanks to author Stephanie Barron for the signed copies of Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas and for joining us today. I am of in raptures over the announcement of the thirteenth book in the series, Jane and the Waterloo Map!

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron
Soho Press (2014)
Hardcover & eBook (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1616954239

Cover image courtesy of Soho Press © 2014; text Stephanie Barron © 2014, Austenprose.com

At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6), by Victoria Connelly – Preview and Exclusive Excerpt

At Home with Mr. Darcy (Austen Addicts Book 6) by Victoria Connelly (2014)Austenesque author Victoria Connelly’s next installment in her contemporary Austen Addicts series has just been released by Notting Hill Press. At Home with Mr. Darcy marks her sixth book following: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy (2011), Dreaming of Mr. Darcy (2011), Mr. Darcy Forever (2013), Christmas with Mr. Darcy (2013) and Happy Birthday, Mr. Darcy (2013). Each of the novels and novellas continue the story of original characters that endearingly resemble Austen’s in some small way or another.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

The Austen Addicts are back!

It’s summer and renowned actress, Dame Pamela Harcourt, has organised a treat: the first Purley Hall Jane Austen holiday – to the home of Mr Darcy no less.

With Katherine and Warwick, Robyn, Doris Norris and the rest of the gang, it’s going to be a trip to remember. But then a hardened journalist and non-Janeite, Melissa Berry, joins the party. Fearing a stitch-up, the friends rally together, hoping to convince Melissa that the only way is Austen…

At Home with Mr Darcy is the sixth title in the bestselling Austen Addicts series.

EXCERPT (from chapter 6)

‘Chatsworth is one of England’s greatest “Treasure Houses”,’ Dame Pamela announced as the minibus came to a halt after arriving at its first Pemberley, ‘and a place I was lucky enough to call home for a summer whilst I was filming Twelfth Night.’ She paused as the minibus exploded into applause as everybody remembered the tour de force that was Dame Pamela’s Viola.

‘Pemberley was thought to be situated near Bakewell,’ she continued, ‘and many Jane Austen fans believe that Chatsworth is the house she had in mind when she was envisioning Mr Darcy’s home.’ She took a deep breath. ‘”To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.”‘

Everybody except Melissa cheered as they remembered the line from the book, standing up from their seats and grabbing their bags and cameras.

‘This is too too exciting!’ Doris Norris exclaimed as she caught Katherine’s eye.

‘You know, Elizabeth and the Gardiners took “their Northern tour” in the month of July. So we’re here at the perfect time too,’ Katherine said.

‘Of course,’ Dame Pamela said. ‘We like to get things right, you know.’

‘Isn’t it Chatsworth on the front of the Hodder edition of Pride and Prejudice? I’m sure it is,’ Annie said, producing a copy from her handbag.

‘It looks very much like it,’ Rose said, peering at it.

Mr Allsop, the driver, cleared his throat. ‘Can I switch this off now?’ he asked.

Dame Pamela looked confused for a moment and then she realised that the Dario Marianelli soundtrack to the 2005 film adaptation was still playing.

‘Oh, yes,’ she said.

‘Thanks heavens for that,’ he said under his breath.

Dame Pamela shot him a look of disapproval as she left the minibus.

The driver turned to look at Robyn. ‘You folks really are nuts about this Austen woman, aren’t you?’

‘Oh, yes,’ Robyn said.

They were to spend the entire day at Chatsworth. With the enormous house, extensive gardens and grounds as well as the restaurant, cafes and deluxe shops to be visited, there was enough to entertain any holidaymaker let alone a Janeite who needed to do nothing more than wander around with a trusty copy of Pride and Prejudice in their hands.

The group soon split up with most making a beeline for the house first. Robyn was one of them, drifting around in a dream as her eyes roamed from fine old portraits to decadent pieces of furniture. She gloried in crossing the black and white floor in the Painted Hall just as Keira Knightley had done in the 2005 adaptation and nearly screamed for joy when she saw her first view of the Emperor Fountain from one of the bevelled glass windows.

It was an enormous house with so many splendid rooms that it made Robyn feel quite dizzy. Like Elizabeth Bennet when she visited Pemberley, Robyn made sure she looked out of each window at the landscape beyond, glorying in the immaculate gardens and the countryside in which they were set.

‘”To be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”‘ she quoted to herself, remembering Elizabeth’s words as she’d thought about what her future might have been had she accepted Mr Darcy’s first proposal. Robyn smiled. How would she have reacted if Dan had revealed himself to be the master of a property like Pemberley? Would she have swooned at the thought of being its mistress? She didn’t think so. She probably would have run a mile because their home at Horseshoe Cottage was her idea of perfection. Of course, she was also lucky enough to be able to work at Purley Hall which was grand by anybody’s standards. No, she thought, as beautiful as they were, the Chatsworths and Pemberleys of the world were suited to other people – not her.

After touring the house, Katherine and Warwick found themselves walking behind Melissa Berry. She had shunned the house in favour of the gardens and was now making her way towards the stable block where the restaurant and shops were.

‘Shall I tackle her now?’ Warwick asked Katherine.

‘I don’t like your use of the word tackle,’ Katherine said. ‘It sounds like you’re going to get her in some sort of head lock.’

‘I wish I could,’ he said, ‘then maybe I could make her see reason.’

‘You haven’t got to make her see reason,’ Katherine said, ‘only the joys of Jane Austen.’

‘Isn’t that the same thing?’ Warwick asked with a lopsided smile that still melted Katherine. ‘Leave her to me. You go and buy yourself a book or something in the shop.’

Katherine laughed. ‘I don’t need any encouragement to buy books.’

They entered a wide courtyard where tables and chairs were set out and people were eating and drinking in the sunshine. There was a small fountain in the middle and a bar at the far side selling drinks and ice creams. Melissa Berry was heading towards the bar.

‘Can I get you a coffee?’ Warwick asked as he approached her.

She jumped in alarm. ‘I thought you lot would all be in the house following in the footsteps of Mr Darcy,’ she said.

‘We’ve just been round,’ he said.

They both bought coffee and went to sit in one of the bright purple seats.

‘How long have you been a journalist?’ he asked.

‘A couple of years,’ she said, sipping her coffee.

‘And you like it?’

‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Do you like being a novelist?’

‘So you know about that?’

‘It’s my business to know about the people I write about,’ she said, her face blank and unreadable. ‘So, do you like it?’

‘I love it,’ he said. ‘It’s the kind of job you couldn’t do unless you love it.’

‘I guess,’ she said and there was a pause.

‘So,’ Warwick began again after taking a sip of his coffee, ‘have you read much Jane Austen?’

‘No,’ Melissa said bluntly. ‘Just a bit of that Pride and Prejudice one and some stuff about her life in preparation for this job.’

Warwick’s left hand clenched into an angry fist under the table. A bit of that Pride and Prejudice one. She was a hopeless case, wasn’t she?

END OF EXCERPT

Many thanks to author Victoria Connelly for sharing this passage from her new novella, At Home with Mr. Darcy. We look forward to reading it.

AUTHOR BIO

Author Victoria Connelly (2012)Victoria Connelly was brought up in Norfolk and studied English literature at Worcester University before becoming a teacher. After getting married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and living in London for eleven years, she moved to rural Suffolk where she lives in a 200-year old cottage with her artist husband and family of rescued animals.

Her first novel, Flights of Angels, was published in Germany and made into a film. Victoria and her husband flew out to Berlin to see it being filmed and got to be extras in it.

She has had ten novels traditionally published worldwide and seventeen titles indie published. Several of her books, including her first volume of autobiography – Escape to Mulberry Cottage – have been Kindle bestsellers. She is now working on a brand new series called The Booklovers which will launch in 2015.

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A Weekend with Mr. Darcy (Austen Adiction Book 6), by Victoria Connelly
Notting Hill Press (2014)
Trade paperback & eBook (128) pages
ISBN: 978-1910522028

Austen Addicts banner 2014 US covers

Cover image courtesy of Notting Hill Press © 2014; text Victoria Connelly © 2014, Austenprose.com

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon Jane Austen Style

Dewey's 24-hour read-a-thon (2014)

I am participating in a special celebration of reading today – Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon. And, of course I have a Jane Austen theme!

For those of you unfamiliar with this bi-annual event, a book blogger named Dewey started the tradition in 2007. Here is a description of the event from it’s website:

For 24 hours, we read books, post to our blogs about our reading, and visit other readers’ blogs. We also participate in mini-challenges throughout the day. It happens twice a year, in April and in October.

It is an all day and night total celebration of reading! The best thing about participating is that you can read as much or as little as you like. I chose to read the first few chapters of three new Austenesque novels (no spoilers) and live-tweet my reactions as I progress. Here are the novels that I have selected:

First Impressions A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett (2014 )FIRST IMPRESSIONS: A NOVEL OF OLD BOOKS, UNEXPECTED LOVE, AND JANE AUSTEN by, Charlie Lovett

(publisher’s description)

A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true
authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.

PLEASE JOIN the Virtual Book Launch Party for FIRST IMPRESSIONS on Monday, October 20th with author Charlie Lovett and enter a giveaway chance for one of three copies available of this exciting new Austen-inspired novel.

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron (2014)JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: BEING A JANE AUSTEN MYSTERY, by Stephanie Barron

(publishers description)

The twelfth installment in Stephanie Barron’s fan-favorite Being a Jane Austen Mystery series

Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.

Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?

PLEASE JOIN the Virtual Book Launch Party for JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS on Tuesday, October 28th with author Stephanie Barron and enter a giveaway chance for 1 of 3 copies available of the new mystery novel. 

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James (2014 )JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST LOVE: A NOVEL, by Syrie James

(publishers description)

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?

AUSTENESQUE GIVEAWAYS DURING DEWEY’S 24-HOUR READ-A-THON

ON OCTOBER 18, 2014

There are hundreds of books being offered as prizes to the participants in Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon. I have donated six Austenesque novels to be awarded during the event.

  • Signed finished paperback copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
  • Finished paperback copy of Undressing Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornesbos
  • ARC paperback copy of The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, by Pamela Mingle
  • ARC paperback of Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay
  • Signed ARC paperback copy of Longbourn, by Jo Baker
  • Finished paperback copy of Jane Austen’s First Love, by Syrie James

To find out more about Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon please visit their website, Facebook page or follow all of the action on Twitter with hashtag #readathon.

Good luck to all who are participating.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Cover images courtesy of Viking Adult © 2014, Soho Crime © 2014, Berkley Trade © 2914, text Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com