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Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Being a Jane Austen Mysteries) Paperback – 28 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (28 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553386700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553386707
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 727,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Lesley on 30 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
Curious about the title? Well, I absolutely love it when an author writes a book that treats me as an adult. I came across this word while reading this book and it stopped me in my tracks. Naturally I had to look it up. Here's what I found: quotidian - 1. daily; of every day; 2. commonplace; trivial. And I can tell you this book is definitely not commonplace or trivial. It is a delicious, exciting mystery story written in the style of Jane Austen. If you love Jane and all things regarding Jane, this book will give you hours of reading pleasure. If you have yet to make a foray into the fascinating world of Austen fan fiction, this can be your very satisfactory starting point.

How could I lose with a novel that combines two of my very favorite subjects? Stephanie Barron has one of the best Jane Austen voices I've read in a long time and she mixes that with an honestly good mystery. The characters are a mixture of true and fictionalized characters with very good descriptions of the places and culture of 1813 England. Jane has convinced her brother Henry that what he needs to help him over the first dark period of grief for his wife Eliza is a short stay in Brighton. Henry repays her kind solicitude by suggesting that she accompany him. On the trip to Brighton Jane rescues a young woman who is being kidnapped by none other than George Gordon, Lord Byron. Has the man gone mad? How did this young girl who is probably fifteen years old become the prisoner of the man who is the toast of all England and the favorite of the ton? I love mysteries and I read a lot of them so I'm really glad to say that the plotting for this story was well thought out and made me work hard for the solution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Ann on 4 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
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 AUSTEN 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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gerard on 20 Feb 2014
Format: Paperback
I could not believe it when I picked up this book on the floor of a friend. I know nothing about Jane Austen, and it seems the author of this book knows very little about George Gordon Byron, one of the great and still-respected giants of British Literature. Yet here he is caricatured in the most disgusting way by this author.

To write drivel about Byron in her novel is allowed, and even excusable, but most people would agree that a decent author would attempt to use a modicum of truth, if not a duty of truth, to the historical personage she is describing. To fall back on old myths and unsubstantiated rumours about Byron is not good enough.

Yet this author goes even further than that - at the end of the book, when her novel is over, she has set up a mock- Question and Answer section in which she attempts to be knowledgeable and factual about Byron, which is risible.

Questions which are still.regarded as "speculations" which have never been proved or disproved by the very latest biographers of Byron and all the great scholars of Byron - are swept aside by Stephanie Barron like a gossip-monger who believes every juicy y little tale and uses them. Oh yes,she say in her Q & A - his half sister even had a child by him," No speculation there then, this author appears to know it for a fact,

She also mentions her own "exploiting" real people for her novels, and I think that sums this author and this book up perfectly.
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After the terrible loss of Jane's sister-in-law Eliza, grieving widow Henry needs his sister's wit and company to try and recover. So they leave London for the clearer shores of Brighton. But they haven't even seen the sea before they are caught up in an abduction episode, which drags the two Austens into the life of the notorious Lord Byron and a strange set of residents at the Regent's favourite seaside town, some known very well by repute in this glamorous age. When a dead body is found in Byron's room, Jane is asked by her old acquaintance Lady Desdemona, niece of the dashing and departed Gentleman Rogue, to assist in finding the real murderer. And so, as an oft-quoted saying says, 'The Game is Afoot'!

This, the tenth in the brilliant mystery series following the real-life path of Jane Austen, delivers yet again an engaging and satisfyingly twisted plot with the added touch of famous historical characters of the times like Byron, Lady Caroline Lamb and the infamous Prince Regent, to spice up the overall story. Stephanie Barron has always been so clever in her style of writing to make it sound as if Austen herself has indeed written these narratives, and again here, we see her apeing this in excellent fashion by a more sober approach to life and events, as we are told Jane herself was by now experiencing.

Another great read. Looking forward to the next one...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 71 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Jane Austen, Detective is back on the case and in peak form 4 Oct 2010
By Laurel Ann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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 AUSTEN 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 role 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 is publishing JANE AND THE CANTERBURY TALE next year with a firm commitment of more to follow. Huzzah!

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Jane lives! 1 Nov 2010
By Dana Stabenow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
And so does Byron in this tenth novel in the Jane Austen series by Stephanie Barron. On their way to Brighton, Jane and her brother Henry rescue a fainting beauty from the fell clutches of Lord Byron, who has conceived a passion for the one woman in England able to resist his fatal allure. When the beauty is murdered, Byron falls under suspicion and Jane of course ferrets out the truth.

Barron makes England's Regency era come alive in the period detail, and the characters, especially the sullen, sexy Lord Byron and the fey, feckless Lady Caroline Lamb fairly leap off the page. For Austenites there is much to enjoy in Jane's mental segues into Mansfield Park, the current work under construction:

I cannot like my poor Fanny, tho' her scruples are such as must command respect; I believe I shall spare the darling Henry such a cross, and bestow the lady upon her cousin Edmund -- who has earned her as a penance, for her utter lack of humour.

There are echoes of many of Austen's characters in the characters inhabiting Brighton during Jane's investigation, among them Mr. Forth, the Master of Ceremonies in the Assembly Rooms at Marine Parade, who will bring the character of Anne Elliot's father irresistibly to mind. At the time this novel is set, Pride and Prejudice has been published to much acclaim, and while with one exception the author's identity is still only that of "A Lady," we enjoy her fans' praise as much as she does.

Crime fiction fans will love Jane's businesslike investigation, too. In a time where physical evidence amounted to the body, eyewitness testimony is essential, and the list of questions that must be asked Jane draws up to begin with are pithy and very much to the point, and by listing them she and the reader come to a better understanding of the murder and what kind of a murderer she is looking for. Her interview of a drunken Byron is riveting, Jane really has a tiger by the tail, and at the end of the novel you will be convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt that he was indeed "mad, bad and dangerous to know."
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Poetic License 27 Dec 2010
By RCM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Unlike some writers who have capitalized on Jane Austen and her plotlines, Stephanie Barron's mystery series pays homage to one of the most beloved authors of all times. Fashioning Jane as a sleuth in mysteries works quite well, for fans can easily imagine the author trying to solve these puzzles. Barron creates new stories that fall into line with events in Austen's life by using the author's letters and diaries and a wealth of historical research to make each plot seem plausible. The result is always enjoyable and such is the case with the tenth book in the series, "Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron".

After the death of Jane's beloved sister-in-law Eliza, Jane convinces her widowed brother Henry to travel to Brighton in search of rest and relaxation. Yet rest is hardly to be found, especially when while in transit to the resort town they rescue a young girl from the clutches of Lord Byron, finding her bound and gagged in his carriage with the poet intent on an elopement. From that moment on, Jane is leery of Byron and forms an attachment to the young girl, one Catherine Twining, who seems to have a knack for getting herself into dangerous situations. But when Catherine's body is found murdered in Lord Byron's chamber, Jane isn't convinced that the poet is the murderer, although she may be convinced that he is rather mad. At the behest of her friend Mona, niece to Lord Harold, Jane tries to uncover the truth behind Catherine's murder and just happens upon a slew of characters who could have killed the young innocent, for their are many people who had motives to kill - especially, perhaps, one of Byron's scorned and crazed lovers.

Barron does a commendable job of combining real historical events and personages with a fictional story. While it is not known that Austen and Byron ever met each other, or that Austen ever traveled to Brighton, there is enough circumstantial evidence to believe it is a possibility. Certainly Barron takes great license here with Byron's story (since he was never arrested for murder), but she does paint a vivid picture of the enigmatic poet, beloved and hated by many. The pace is sometimes slowed down by too much exposition and the mystery is fairly easy to solve. However, "Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron" is an enjoyable read. For anyone who wishes that there were more original works by Austen herself, these lost "journals" are wonderful wish fulfillment.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As always, Jane is fun, but this one is a bit of a stretch 18 Nov 2010
By Bookphile - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've been hopelessly addicted to Barron's Jane Austen mysteries right from the first book. It's hard not to be, when an author does such a good job of providing an authentic voice for Jane. We have some idea of what Austen was like, thanks to her body of work, but Barron provides us the opportunity to imagine what it would be like to have a direct conduit into Austen's psyche, and that's something I think most Austen enthusiasts would find irresistible.

In this tenth mystery starring Austen as sleuth, the reader is once again given the opportunity to imagine what's going on inside Austen's head. Barron does an excellent job of portraying Austen as a subtle, lively person who is still very much aware of the world in which she lives. I had something of a hard time reconciling some of the more salacious bits with the more placid-seeming worlds of Austen's works, but then I have to remind myself that Austen likely wasn't as innocent as we like to think. Barron has created a very vivid representation of the Regency world, and it's very likely that Austen was exposed to a lot of the salacious gossip about the men and women of the day--particularly when it comes to such popular personages as the Prince Regent and Lord Byron. Indeed, Austen hints at this in her own works where there are veiled references to scandalous behavior, as well as some of the less than savory practices of the day.

One of the things that I actively disliked about the novel was Jane's reaction to Byron. While I can conceive of how she would admire his work as an author, I think Jane would be been much too subtle and clever a woman to have fallen under the spell of a man like Byron. Though the author notes that the meeting is entirely fictional, I thought it bordered on the fantastical. Moreover, the sexual appeal of Lord Byron aside, I had a hard time understanding why he would feel so free to express his innermost thoughts and feelings to Jane.

Many issues are tackled here, everything from jealousy to the plight of females of the day. As the mystery unravels, it neatly plays into these themes and creates an interesting and rather timely portrait. The condition of women has improved in some parts of the world, but the themes of jealousy and honor are still relevant today. This is really one of the strengths of the series, that Barron uses themes that are believably compelling to both the contemporaries of the novels and the modern human perusing its pages. However, I did feel that Jane's investigation was rather a stretch. In a day and age where you didn't even say hello to someone to whom you hadn't been formally introduced, I didn't find it very believable that Jane could have been digging into the circumstances surrounding the death of a young woman she barely knew. In short, I thought the novel had a little too much modern sensibility. I think that people in the Regency era would have been much, much more tight-lipped about the secrets Jane uncovers, as opposed to our modern Facebook era, in which people post their grievances against their spouses for all the world to see.

In the end, this is what really undoes the novel for me. While I still very much enjoyed the character of Jane and still found the vocabulary Barron used, the manner in which the characters speak, etc. to be very in keeping with the Regency, I didn't feel that the mystery and its unfolding were. It's as if a modern crime novel had been transposed over the pages of Sense and Sensibility. The effect is rather jarring and makes it rather difficult to suspend disbelief.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Indelicacy is all the rage." 12 Dec 2010
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In "Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron," by Stephanie Barron, Jane and her brother, Henry, embark on an expedition to the seaside to recover their spirits after the passing of Henry's wife, Eliza. In the spring of 1813, Brighton was a "glittering resort and "the summer haunt of expensive Fashionables," including the profligate Prince Regent and his cronies. Although Jane is at first is aghast at the thought of staying in a vulgar place devoted to "indecent revels," she realizes that "Henry would never survive his grief by embracing melancholy."

Jane, who is thirty-seven ("the autumn of my life is come--my hopes of happiness long since buried in an unmarked grave"), knows that, where she is headed, men and women will be parading about in their finery, while she will be clad in dark-colored clothes and limited to activities appropriate for one in mourning. Her thoughts turn in another direction, however, when Jane and Henry, on the way to their destination, rescue a fifteen-year-old girl named Catherine Twining from the clutches of Lord Byron, who had abducted and tied her up "in a manner painful to observe." Even though the celebrated poet had many paramours, he was selfishly determined to add Catherine to his list of conquests, whether she willed it or not.

Jane and Henry's stay in Brighton proves to be unsettling. A brutal murder takes place, for which Byron may very well hang, and Jane and Henry collect information that will help them learn the truth of the matter. Throughout, Ms. Barron lavishly describes "the frivolity and display, the pretty and available women, the horse races and the crowd of gamblers at Raggett's Club." Included in the large cast are: Lady Desdemona, Countess of Swithin, the niece of Jane's late, lamented Lord Harold Trowbridge; General Twining, Catherine's bitter, rude, and extremely strict father; Hendred Smalls, an unctuous and unappealing clergyman who hopes to win Catherine's hand; Lady Caroline Lamb, a madwoman who ostentatiously throws herself at Byron even though he repeatedly rejects her; and, hovering over them all is the Prince Regent, who enjoys wine, women, and the gaming tables.

Barron is a student of all things Austen, and her research into the life of this great novelist enriches the narrative. However, it should be noted that the premise is a product of the author's imagination; there is no record of Austen having ever visited Brighton or, indeed, having met Lord Byron. Although "Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron" is mildly entertaining, it is also excessively talky, overly cluttered, and somewhat slow-moving. In addition, the mystery is neither believable nor particularly suspenseful. Jane Austen is observant, sharp-witted, and anxious for justice to be done, but she does not stand out as a fully developed character in her own right. The novel's value lies mainly in Barron's meticulous description of the personalities, fashions, and mores of the upper classes during the Regency period. Readers who wish to immerse themselves in the pursuits, debaucheries, and eccentricities of the wealthy and infamous in early nineteenth century England may find this work of fiction diverting.
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