on 3 January 2012
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...
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. Definitely not an obvious murderer who stood out in the first moments of being introduced into the narrative.
Given that I've stated so many things I enjoyed about the book you may be wondering why I have assigned four stars instead of what you might have expected, the full five stars. Well, it is simply because the mystery took quite some time to show up. Granted the novel was interesting and I was enjoying it, but ultimately I wanted the mystery to begin. And it didn't for a little too long. I understand why, but it still made me a little restive. Once it began though, it was absolutely perfect from my standpoint. I do highly recommend this title as well as the other books in this series. References are made throughout the book to other mysteries Jane has been involved in and they are sure to pique your interest also.
on 20 February 2014
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.
This is the tenth book in the Jane Austen Mystery Series by Stephanie Barron.
In a newly discovered secret journal, Jane Austen documents her adventures as an amateur sleuth. In the spring of 1813, after the loss of her beloved sister in law Eliza, Jane accompanies her bereaved brother Henry to Brighton. Although this would seem as a 'vulgar' choice for a family in mourning, Jane believes that a visit to the fashionable Brighton is exactly what Henry needs and an appropriate tribute to Eliza, who would have loved the frivolity and scandal of a Brighton Summer. Indeed scandal is what they find when a young woman is found murdered on the bed of none other than the poet Lord Byron. Jane doesn't consider Lord Byron a Gentleman, but she doubts he is a murderer, so with Henry's help, she begins to investigate the case.
This series is excellent and this tenth novel is no exception. Barron has, once again, created a gripping mystery plot, brilliantly set in Austen's time, with a very convincing Jane as its heroine. The descriptions of Regency Brighton are beautiful and the atmosphere of the high society diners, balls and promenades is fantastic. Barron's Jane Austen, with her wit and her brilliant abilities of perception is very convincing as an amateur sleuth and, as always, very realistic, but I cannot say the same for her Lord Byron who is not as believable. I have been studying his work and life for years and to me, unlike the other characters of the novel, he didn't feel real. Luckily although integral to the plot, he only appears a couple of times, enough to give the reader a glimpse of this exciting character without exposing his shortcomings. As the series progresses Jane's character evolves and becomes more complex, and I loved how she tries to balance her conflicting feelings for Lord Byron; being her usual sensible self, she doesn't fall prey to his charms, but both as a writer and a woman, she is drawn to him. Indeed, although there is no record that these two ever met in reality, I believe this is exactly how Jane Austen would have felt, though I think Byron would have liked her less.
In addition, the book includes excellent and very useful footnotes by Stephanie Barron in the form of "Editor's notes", explaining some references to Austen's life and providing valuable information on the customs of the time.
The novel can stand on its own, but as it makes many references to the previous novels in the series, I think it is best to start from the beginning.