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.
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!
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...
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.
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.