I’m a fan of most things Austen (the mashups weren’t quite my cup of tea), so how could I not wonder at what The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen contained between its covers?
Anna Sharp is the governess to Edward Austen’s children when she meets Jane for the first time, and forms a life-long friendship. Anna is as sharp as her name, and notices quite a few slightly suspicious occurrences involving Jane’s brother Henry – but keeps quiet as she’s not one of the family and cannot jeopardize her livelihood.
Then again, Jane may have the very same suspicions, but she won’t quite say it out loud. Perhaps because doing so makes it real, and it’s a reality she’d rather not face?
The first three-quarters of The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen covers the relationships, jealousies and rivalries, and affections the members of the Austen clan have for one another. It provides a background for the final quarter, where Anna tries to piece together the clues that might point to wrong-doing in Jane’s death. In the end, Anna concludes that Jane was most likely poisoned, and she might not the only one in that family to have been. Anna even has a confrontation with the suspected poisoner, and I wish that had more concrete results.
If you’re an Austen fan, love a good mystery, and are curious about Jane’s family, you’ll want to pick up The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen. Brew a cuppa and prepare to spend some time with it – this isn’t a book to inhale. Rather it’s one to go over slowly, as you try to read into the interactions and communications of this somewhat complicated family – and to guess who the villain is…
drey’s rating: Pick it up!
Title: The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen
Author: Lindsay Ashford
ARC: 418 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, 2013
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Have you read The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen? What did you think?
Aside (because it doesn’t pertain to the review, per se): The portrayal of a woman’s options in this period are quite depressing; you’re dependent on the goodwill of others if you’re unmarried and have no family benefactor, you’re dependent on the goodwill of your family if you’re unmarried and do have family, and you’re dependent on the goodwill of your husband if you’re married. I am very thankful for the women’s rights movement that broke us free from this cycle of dependency on whim and goodwill.