There are two types of writers who write Jane Austen related novels, whether they be about the author herself, or about her characters. There are those that touch the surface and merely imitate the world that Austen knew and then there are those that inhabit that world. While no modern writer can truly recapture Jane Austen’s original and timelessness voice as a writer, Syrie James come pretty close.
I have two of her books presently in my library, her most recent novel is Jane Austen’s First Love. Years before, Jane’s older brother Edward was so charming to the Austen’s childless cousins, the Knights, that they adopted him and named him their heir. Edward is now 23 and recently engaged to Elizabeth Bridges. Eager to introduce his soon to be in laws to his family, Edward invites family to meet the Bridges.
Now fifteen years old, Jane is a typical teenage girl. She dreams of falling in love and writing the perfect novel. On the way to meeting her brother’s future in laws, she meets Edward Taylor and as teenage girls often do, fall quickly and madly in love. But there may be another young woman destined for Mr. Taylor. Meanwhile, Jane, conjuring the same matchmaking schemes that Emma Woodhouse would later use, identifies some couples who may or may not be correctly paired up and admits her first impressions of her new acquaintances may not be all together correct.
I loved this book. We think of Jane Austen of this smart, well rounded, intelligent grown woman who occasionally talked snidely behind others back. But underneath all of that is a former teenage girl who had innocent dreams of growing up, finding herself and falling in love.
I highly recommend this book.