Winner Announced in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 Giveaway

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Challenge 2011The Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 has concluded. It was a great year sleuthing with Jane Austen in Stephanie Barron’s classic Regency-era mystery series. 76 participants signed up for the challenge with levels of participation ranging from: Neophyte: 1 – 4 novels, Disciple 5 – 8 novels, Aficionada 9 – 11 novels. The reviews and links have been posted in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery archive viewable here. If you have not delved into this fabulous Jane Austen-inspired mystery series yet, reading through the reviews will be a great resource for you.

Here are all of the novels in the series with links to my reviews:

The year-long reading challenge concluded on December 31, 2011. Participants and commenters on their review posts qualified for the grand giveaway – one signed paperback copy of all eleven novels in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series. Without further ado, the lucky winner is:

Congratulations SUSAN!

To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by January 15, 2012. Shipment to the US and Canadian addresses only.

Many thanks to all who participated in the year-long Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 – and especially to author Stephanie Barron for her insightful posts on her blog that corresponded with my reviews of each of the novels. She also very generously contributed all of the signed copies for the giveaway winners.

It has been a great year of sleuthing through Jane Austen’s world. Thank you Stephanie for your fabulous novels.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron – A Review

One thinks of Jane Austen as a retiring spinster who writes secretly, prefers her privacy and enjoys quiet walks in the Hampshire countryside. Instead, she has applied her intuitive skills of astute observation and deductive reasoning to solve crime in Stephanie Barron’s Austen inspired mystery series. It is an ingenious paradox that would make even Gilbert and Sullivan green with envy. The perfect pairing of the unlikely with the obvious that happens occasionally in great fiction by authors clever enough to pick up on the connection and run with it.

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron marks Stephanie Barron’s tenth novel in the best-selling Jane Austen Mystery series. For fourteen years, and to much acclaim, she has channeled our Jane beyond her quiet family circle into sleuthing adventures with lords, ladies and murderers. Cleverly crafted, this historical detective series incorporates actual events from Jane Austen’s life with historical facts from her time all woven together into mysteries that of course, only our brilliant Jane can solve.

It is the spring of 1813. Jane is home at Chawton Cottage “pondering the thorny question of Henry Crawford” in her new novel Mansfield Park and glowing in the recent favorable reception of Pride and Prejudice. Bad news calls her to London where her brother Henry’s wife Eliza, the Comtesse de Feuillde, is gravely ill. With her passing, Jane and Henry decide to seek the solace and restorative powers of the seaside selecting Brighton, “the most breathtaking and outrageous resort of the present age” for a holiday excursion.

At a coaching Inn along the way they rescue Catherine Twining, a young society Miss found bound and gagged in the coach of George Gordon, the 6th Baron of Byron, aka Lord Byron, the notorious mad, bad and dangerous to know poet. Miffed by their thwart of her abduction, Byron regretfully surrenders his prize to Jane and Henry who return her to her father General Twining in Brighton. He is furious and quick to fault his fifteen year-old daughter. Jane and Henry are appalled at his temper and concerned for her welfare.

Settled into a suite of rooms at the luxurious Castle Inn, Jane and Henry enjoy walks on the Promenade, fine dining on lobster patties and champagne at Donaldson’s and a trip to the local circulating library where Jane is curious to see how often the “Fashionables of Brighton” solicit the privilege of reading Pride and Prejudice! Even though Jane loathes the dissipated Prince Regent, she and Henry attend a party at his opulent home the Marine Pavilion. In the crush of the soirée, Jane again rescues Miss Twining from another seducer.

Later at an Assembly dance attended by much of Brighton’s bon ton, Lord Byron reappears stalked by his spurned amour, “the mad as Bedlam” Lady Caroline Lamb. Even though the room is filled with beautiful ladies he only has eyes for Miss Twining and aggressively pursues her. The next morning, Jane and Henry are shocked to learn that the lifeless body of a young lady found in Byron’s bed was their naïve new friend Miss Catherine Twining! The facts against Byron are very incriminating. Curiously, the intemperate poet is nowhere to be found and all of Brighton ready to condemn him.

Henry grasped my arm and turned me firmly back along the way we had come. “Jane,” he said bracingly, “we require a revival of your formidable spirit – one I have not seen in nearly two years. You must take up the rȏle of Divine Fury. You must penetrate this killer’s motives, and expose him to the world.”’ page 119

And so the game is afoot and the investigation begins…

It is great to have Jane Austen, Detective back on the case and in peak form. Fans of the series will be captivated by her skill at unraveling the crime, and the unindoctrinated totally charmed. The mystery was detailed and quite intriguing, swimming in red herrings and gossipy supposition. Pairing the nefarious Lord Byron with our impertinent parson’s daughter was just so delightfully “sick and wicked.” Their scenes together were the most memorable and I was pleased to see our outspoken Jane give as good as she got, and then some. Readers who enjoy a good parody and want to take this couple one step further should investigate their vampire version in Jane Bites Back.

Barron continues to prove that she is an Incomparable, the most accomplished writer in the genre today rivaling Georgette Heyer in Regency history and Austen in her own backyard. Happily readers will not have to wait another four years for the next novel in the series. Bantam published Jane and the Canterbury Tale this year. Huzzah! Unfortunately for fans of the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series, it is the final novel in the series.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eleventh and final selection in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011. We have now read all of the mysteries in the series and completed the challenge! It has been a fabulous reading journey with Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen, Lord Harold and all the dead bodies scattered across England! I enjoyed every novel and learned so much. The Grand Prize winner of one signed copy of each of the novels in the series will be drawn from the comments on all of the posts here and at reviewers blogs and announced on January 1, 2012. Good luck!

  • Participants, please leave comments and or place links to your reviews on the official reading challenge page by following this link.

Grand Giveaway

Author Stephanie Barron has generously offered a signed paperback copy of Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about Jane Austen as a detective, or what you think Jane Austen and Lord Byron have in common by midnight PT, Wednesday, December 28, 2011. Winner to be announced on Thursday, December 29, 2011. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books (2010)
Trade paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-0553386707

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway winner announced for Jane and the Barque of Frailty

Jane and the Barque of Frailty, by Stephanie Barron (2006)18 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a signed copy of Jane and the Barque of Frailty, by Stephanie Barron.

The winner drawn at random is Kelli H. who left a comment on November 17, 2011.

Congratulations Kelli! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by November 30, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011. We are reading all eleven novels in this great Austen-inspired mystery series this year. Next month we will be wrapping up the year-long event with Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane and the Barque of Frailty: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron – A Review

Jane and the Barque of Frailty: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron (2007)Here we are at the ninth novel in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series, Stephanie Barron’s sagacious slant on “our dear Jane” as a sleuth!

The spring of 1811 finds Jane in London staying with her banker-brother Henry Austen and his sophisticated wife Eliza at their residence on Sloane Street preparing her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, for publication. While attending a performance of Macbeth at the Theatre Royal at Covent Garden, it is difficult to determine who is the bigger draw to the audience; the esteemed actress Mrs. Siddons on stage, or the beautiful Russian Princess Evegenia Tscholikova in a box. That very week, her private letters to her married lover Lord Castlereagh had been published in a London paper for all to read. Such a shocking scandal for a Tory Minister is sure to have serious repercussions, but finding the lifeless body of the Princess strewn across the his front steps the next morning with her throat cut should not be one of them. Jane and Eliza are shocked, but certain that it is not the suicide that the paper reports.

Confident that the coroner’s inquest will disclose the truth, Jane and Eliza soon learn that they are the prime suspects in the murder after attempting to help the Comtesse d’ Entraigues discreetly sell her jewels. This act of kindness for Eliza’s friend places them in an incriminating position. The authorities disclose that the jewels belong to the dead Russian Princess and not the Comtesse. Why were Eliza and Jane set up? Who is benefitting from the Princesses death? How will they save themselves from the gallows?

Jane negotiates a seven day reprieve to discover the truth and begins the investigation through London’s fashionable Ton, dubious politicians, and their intimate circle of powerful women – the Barque of Frailty.

For those of you not in the know on Regency era colloquialisms, in common cant, Barque of Frailty is a woman of easy virtue, a mistress, or a prostitute.  There are interesting “fallen women” who factor into this story, including the infamous Society supplicant Harriette Wilson, and the one hit wonder Julia Radcliffe.  Harriette was a real “demi-rep” (woman of ill repute) who kept important statesmen tucked in her décolleté like a favorite scented lace hanky. Julia is fictitious, but cut from the same cloth.

Not far from these highly desirable “light skirts” are the men of the Beau Monde (fashionable society) and government circling their flame: Emmanuel, Comte d’Entraigues, Francis Edward Rawdon-Hastings, Earl of Moria, Charles Malverley, George Canning, and Robert, Lord Castlereagh to name a few, and there are many to remember in this tale of political intrigue, and passions spent and spurned.

Jane and Eliza are the key players through the political subterfuge and romantic dalliances in deducing the mystery. Some of their exploits require a total suspension of disbelief for a clergyman’s daughter and a bankers wife. However, this adventuresome energy swiftly glides you through a masterful story that at times, reminded me of a Georgette Heyer novel. But, in due deference to Ms. Barron’s skill as a mystery novelist, every time I hear the name Freddy, and there is a Freddy Ponsonby in this tale, it reminds me of  Freddy Standen in Cotillion!

As we have continued through this series we have sleuthed with Jane in the country, by the sea-side, and in Town. I think I enjoy her temperament more in these novels away from London. I have always thought she preferred the county to Town. When visiting London in 1796, she wrote to her sister Cassandra, “Here I am once more in this Scene of Dissipation & Vice, and I begin already to find my Morals corrupted.” In her novels bad things seem to happen to characters in London. Marianne gets jilted by Willoughby there in Sense and Sensibility, the married Maria Rushworth cheats on hubby with Henry Crawford and runs away with him in Mansfield Park, silly, selfish Lydia Bennet elopes with Wickham, doesn’t marry, and lives with him in sin there in Pride and Prejudice, and Mr. Knightley escapes Highbury to Town to forget Miss Woodhouse in Emma!

Is Jane trying to tell us something? In Jane and the Barque of Frailty, we certainly meet with Dissipation & Vice. If a bath by fire is redemption for the reader after 235 pages of the dark underworld of “muslin company,” then the final decadent scene set at the Cyprians Ball, an anti-Almacks soiree for the “high-water courtesans” and their entourage of moths, is a refreshing denouement. Jane (thirty-five year old spinster and country girl) and her sister-in-law Eliza (outrageous flirt and party girl) gain entrance for a scandalous subterfuge as masked “ladies of the night” to assemble all the key players into one room for the final show down. After the shocking conclusion, the mystery is solved, but the words used to describe those ladies who lived off their looks and charms are still rolling through my head…doxy, cunning jade, bird of paradise, celebrated Impure, Paphiana and trollop. Like Jane, I am glad I live in the country.

4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my tenth selection in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011, as we are reading all eleven mysteries in the series this year. Participants, please leave comments and or place links to your reviews on the official reading challenge page by following this link.

Grand Giveaway

Author Stephanie Barron has generously offered a signed paperback copy of Jane and the Barque of Frailty to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about Jane Austen as a detective, or if you have read Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion, why Freddy Standen is haunting me by midnight PT, Wednesday, November 23, 2011. Winner to be announced on Thursday, November 24, 2011. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Visit author Stephanie Barron’s blog and discover her research for this novel which includes Channeling Harriette in the Barque of Frailty

Jane and the Barque of Frailty: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books (2007)
Mass market paperback (368)
ISBN: 978-0553584080

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron – A Review

Jane and His Lordships Legacy, by Stephanie Barron (2005)It is 1809, a significant year in the life of our esteemed authoress Jane Austen. After close to five years of being shuffled about England between relatives, the three unattached Austen ladies: widower Mrs. Austen and her two unmarried daughters Jane and Cassandra are given permanent refuge by Jane’s elder brother Edward Austen Knight in the village of Chawton. They will live at Chawton cottage the former residence of the recently deceased steward of Edward’s vast estate there. Still privately grieving the tragic death of her dear friend Lord Harold Trowbridge (The Gentleman Rogue) nine months prior, Jane arrives in the village to find an uneasy welcome to the Squire’s family. It appears that the villagers are unhappy that the widow of Edward’s former steward was asked to vacate the cottage in favor of his family, and more seriously, Edward as an absentee Squire has been remiss in his duties since the death of his wife Elizabeth the previous year.

Within hours of Jane’s arrival at the cottage she receives an unexpected visit from contemptuous Mr. Bartholomew Chizzlewit, attorney to the family of His Grace the Duke of Wilborough. Performing his duty as family solicitor, he deposits on Jane’s dining-parlor floor a curiously carved chest announcing that she is listed as a legatee in Lord Harold’s Last Will and Testament. His bequest (should she accept it) is that she accept his personal papers and diaries, “a lifetime of incident, intrigue, and conspiracy; of adventure and scandal; of wagers lost and won,” and write his life story! After the Duke of Wilborough’s family contested the legacy in a London court and lost, they are bitter about the arrangement and hold it against Jane. Not only is this startling news, the thought of reliving the Gentleman Rogues life, far before she met him, and then through his entire life as a spy for the British government, is both curious and painful to her. When the huge chest is removed into the cottage’s cellar, another startling discover brings Jane’s first day at Chawton to a scandalous close. A body of a man lies rotting and rat eaten on the floor.

Jane’s brother Henry arrives the next day and the inquest into the mysterious death begins by the local authorities with Jane and Henry in assistance. After Lord Harold’s trunk is stolen, Jane is convinced that it contains information that someone did not want her to discover. Could the theft be linked to the Wilborough family trying to cover up their son’s notorious life? Or, could it be the newcomers to the neighborhood, Julian Thrace, a young London Buck who is rumored to be the illegitimate heir apparent to the Earl of Holbrook vast wealth, and his half-sister Lady Imogen, the Earl’s acknowledged heir? Or, is the dead body in the cellar a personal vendetta by the bitter Jack Hinton, eager to make trouble for the Austen family? He claims to be the rightful heir to the Knight family estate of Chawton that Jane’s brother Edward inherited. There are suspects and motives, suppositions and accusations galore for our observant and clever Jane to ponder and detect before she solves the crime.

One chapter into the eighth novel in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series and I am totally convinced that Jane Austen is channeling the actual events of her life through author Stephanie Barron. She has so convincingly captured her witty, acerbic and penetrating voice that I am totally mesmerized. Like Jane, I am still grieving the tragic death of her secret crush Lord Harold. Reading his letters and journals was like bringing him back to life. Delightful torture for those Gentleman Rogue fans such as myself. This mystery was very well-plotted and fast-paced, but Barron really shines with her incredible historical details and the fact that in this discriminating Austen-obsessed mind, no one will ever be able to match her unique ability to channel my favorite author’s voice so perfectly.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eighth selection in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011, as we are reading all eleven mysteries in the series this year. Participants, please leave comments and or place links to your reviews on the official reading challenge page by following this link.

Grand Giveaway

Author Stephanie Barron has generously offered a signed hardcover copy of Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorite character is by midnight PT, Wednesday, August 24, 2011. Winner to be announced on Thursday, August 25, 2011. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy, Being a Jane Austen Mystery (No 8), by Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books, 2005
Mass market paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-0553584073

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway winner Announced for Jane and the Ghosts of Netley

Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, by Stephanie Barron (2003)22 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, by Stephanie Barron. The winner drawn at random is Lynn M. who left a comment on July 19th.

Congratulations Lynn! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by August 3rd, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011. We are reading all eleven novels in this great Austen-inspired mystery series this year, so check back each month to read my review and enter a chance to win a copy of the book!

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose