You know I’m still in the middle of my Jane Austen craze. And I haven’t even read all of Jane’s actual books yet. In the meantime, my mystery loving self has started on the whole shelf full of Jane Austen mysteries that Stephanie Barron has been writing since 1996. Her fictional basis is that, while visiting friends who are of old Baltimore stock, and who live in a Georgian period home in that area, she explored with them a box of old papers and journals that turned out to be manuscripts written by Jane herself – there is a distant family connection – which included experiences, unknown to Austen scholars, that were ‘personal records of mysteries Jane Austen encountered and solved in the course of her short life’.
Stephanie definitely writes with Jane’s voice – that of a keen observer of occurrences and of behaviors of those around her, who then mulls that information over until she understands what is going on. At that point, Jane acts. She is not able to pass by a chance to fix a situation once she is sure of her facts. Which makes these mysteries totally wonderful – history, psychology, cultural notes, fashion, transportation – it’s all here in Jane / Stephanie’s work.
Plus the occasional – and modest – love interest. What constraint and restraint existed among the upper classes in Jane’s time. These mystery and mysterious journals also follow Jane’s actual path during the particular time period, whether she was living in Bath with her parents, or visiting siblings and friends in other parts of England.
A lot of delight in these pages. I’m reading them in order, and have completed Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, Being the First Jane Austen Mystery; Jane and the Man of the Cloth; Jane and the Wandering Eye, Being the Third Jane Austen Mystery; and Jane and the Genius of the Place, Being the Fourth Jane Austen Mystery.
I know I’m going to be disappointed when there are no more to read, and I have to come back to the real world once more. Sigh.