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Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, The [Paperback]

Lindsay Ashford
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

20 Oct 2011
When Jane Austen dies at the age of just 41, Anne, governess to her brother, Edward Austen, is devastated and begins to suspect that someone might have wanted her out of the way. Now, 20 years on, she hopes that medical science might have progressed sufficiently to assess the one piece of evidence she has - a tainted lock of Jane's hair. Natural causes or murder? Even 20 years down the line, Anne is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of the acclaimed Miss Austen.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Honno Welsh Women's Press (20 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906784264
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906784263
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lindsay Ashford is a British crime novelist and journalist.
Raised in Wolverhampton, Ashford became the first woman to graduate from Queens' College, Cambridge in its 550 year history. She gained a degree in Criminology. Ashford was then employed as a reporter for the BBC before becoming a freelance journalist, writing for a number of national magazines and newspapers. In 1996, she took a crime writing course run by the Arvon Foundation. Her debut novel, Frozen, was published by Honno in 2003. This was the first of a series of novels featuring forensic psychologist Megan Rhys.
The second book in the series, Strange Blood, was short-listed for the 2006 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.
She wrote The Rubber Woman for the Quick Reads series in 2007.
Her latest novel, The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen was published in October 2011. A historical mystery, she researched and wrote it while living in the former home of Jane Austen's brother. The novel is being adapted for radio and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4's "Woman's Hour" in February 2014.
Ashford divides her time between a home on the Welsh coast near Aberystwyth, Wales and the village of Chawton in Hampshire.

Product Description


Dramatised on Radio 4 February 2014

'Ashford borrows the 'mischievous spirit' of Austen herself in this thoroughly entertaining mingling of fact and fiction.' - Anna Scott, Guardian

'Austen herself who leaps from the pages with warmth and humour' New Welsh Review

'unsettling and powerful... a fascinating journey into the Austen family dynamics... What unfolds is a gripping, page turning, toxic sugar plum unlike any other Austenesque novel I have ever read. Be brave. Be beguiled. Be uncertain. I dare you.' - Laurel Ann Nattress,

'I actually couldn't put it down... beautifully written and wholly believable...' - Jane Odiwe,

'an intriguing and compelling variation on the theory of the death of Jane Austen.' -- - crimeficreader (//

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alarmingly brilliant 1 Aug 2012
By Anne
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is a long time since I have read a novel that I absolutely could not put down - but this one had me riveted from start to finish. I love Jane Austen's novels, have read just about everything ever written about her and I live near Chawton - and this novel has turned my comfortable beliefs about her life - and especially about her death - upside down.

I'd often thought how strange her last poem about Winchester Races was, and how odd the underlining was, but I'd never thought about an anagram. I'd often wondered about the discoloration of her face in her last months, and what would cause this. But I'd never thought about any of these beyond idle curiosity.

Of course this IS a novel. It's a story and a lot of it is pure fabrication. But my goodness, what a story.

I bought the Kindle version and it has to be the best 99p I've ever spent. I now want to go and read about Anne Sharp.

Do read this - and if you are a Janeite, prepare to have your cosy beliefs challenged.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be brave. Be beguiled. Be uncertain! 7 Nov 2011
Jane Austen's personal life is a bit of an enigma. We know a bit about her day-to-day life from her remaining personal correspondence; of which a few snippets allude to her beaux and friends. Readers are often puzzled how a spinster wrote so perceptively about romance and the human heart. One would think that first-hand experience would be a requirement. I have always thought that she had her fair share of romance. We are just not privy to the details. We do, however, know a little about of one of her dear female friendships.

Anne Sharp was governess to Jane's niece Fanny Knight from 1804 to 1806 at Godmersham Park where Anne and Jane were introduced in 1805. Even though the social chasm between Anne as a servant and Jane as the sister of the wealthy land owner should have prevented them from closer acquaintance, they became life-long friends. Jane felt so highly of Miss Sharp that she was the only person beyond family, and Countess Morley, a professional commitment, to receive one of twelve presentation copies of her novel EMMA when it was published in 1815. When that copy resurfaced into the public eye at the London Bonhams Auction House sale in 2008, I was intrigued. Since we are often a reflection of who our friends are, I was compelled to discover who Anne Sharp was - and why Jane Austen, who had a small circle of personal acquaintance beyond her large family - chose Anne as her close friend? If I discovered this, I might learn more about my favorite author.

My research expedition through my own reference books, the library, and online turned up some interesting facts about Anne's life and her friendship with Jane, but not nearly enough to satisfy my inquisitive mind. Anne Sharp had indeed become an obsession within my Jane Austen obsession.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable read 27 April 2012
By Pippa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lindsay Ashford has written a thought provoking and very entertaining interpretation of the rather scarce facts known about Jane Austen and her family. No doubt this book will ruffle the feathers of a few of Jane Austen's most devoted admirers - but it is a work of fiction which may have come closer to the truth than we will ever know!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointed 26 Feb 2014
By tess
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had really high expectations for this book and whilst it was well written and had an interesting plot it just didn't work
for me. The main character is very hard to like which really spoilt the book .
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read 5 Jan 2012
I have always loved Jane Austen novels, or anything about her life since I was a child and I just love this book, I quickly got into the story after the first two chapters, This book made my imagination go wild with the possibilities, could this have happened, did one of her family do this to her. Excellent book, once start you cannot put it down, excellent read
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different! 3 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'd love to know how much of this story is true! It says much of it is based on research, so I guess it must be. It was certainly unknown to me, but it was very interesting and held me spellbound for the whole book. It was great to be caught up in a Jane Austen style story, about JANE herself! Really really good. In fact, I might go and read it again.....
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2.0 out of 5 stars better ways to spend time 7 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think if it hadn't had the name Jane Austin in the title it wouldn't sell! Thanks publisher for turning down several worse drafts. I think they should have turned down this one too. Very occasional good phrase/observation/comment. mainly not well written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating 27 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was interesting idea for a book. As an Austen fan .it gave an unusual insight into what may have happened in her life and death.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interestingand made me wonder ?
Published 15 days ago by Mrs. V. Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Was she really murdered?
This was a very different view of Jane Austen seen through the eyes of a hero-worshipping governess. The mixture of fact and fiction made it an interesting mystery story.
Published 19 days ago by tartwell
5.0 out of 5 stars The mysterious death of Miss Austen
This took a while to get going and I found it hard to engage with at the first. It does warm up eventually and I enjoyed it as a portrait of the time in which it is set
Published 3 months ago by Joyce.G Male
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but a bit far fetched
This is a well written novel, based on apparent evidence that Jane Austen may have been poisoned. Without giving the plot away, it sound pretty unlikely and rather unfair to a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by boudicca
5.0 out of 5 stars Always wondered why Jane died so young.
A plausible telling of Jane Austen's death at a young age, drawing on evidence of poison in a lock of her hair. A good read.
Published 3 months ago by crazygrandma
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff.
Possibly far-fetched central plot idea, but very well-written, lovely insights into 'well-known' historical figures and a really strong central character who was utterly... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Devon Violets
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
An interesting theory convincingly told. I felt the book could do with tighter editing and that it off a little towards the end. But if you like Jane Austen, give it a try. Read more
Published 5 months ago by B. Brown
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit confusing at the end but a worthwhile read
The novel opens in 1843, twenty-six years after Jane Austen's death. Anne Sharp has learned of a test that can be conducted on human hair to discover if arsenic poisoning might... Read more
Published 5 months ago by E Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars good plot and interesting to read
I enjoyed all the historical references in this book. However, there are so many characters with similar names and connections that I found myself wishing there was a family tree... Read more
Published 5 months ago by panda93
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for Austen fans
Rarely am I moved to write a review, but given that this is the silliest book that I have read in a long time, I felt I had to contribute my opinion. Read more
Published 6 months ago by the art of curiosity...
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