Published August 2014 by Penguin Group
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review
In the summer of 1791, fifteen-year-old Miss Jane Austen is determined to accomplish three things: to do something useful, write something worthy, and fall madly in love. While visiting at Goodnestone Park in Kent for a month of festivities in honor of her brother's engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets the boy-next-door—the wealthy, worldly, and devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to Bifrons Park, and hopefully her heart! Like many of Jane’s future heroes and heroines, she soon realizes that there are obstacles—social, financial, and otherwise—blocking her path to love and marriage, one of them personified by her beautiful and sweet tempered rival, Charlotte Payler.
Unsure of her own budding romance, but confident in her powers of observation, Jane distracts herself by attempting to maneuver the affections of three other young couples. But when her well-intentioned matchmaking efforts turn into blundering misalliance, Jane must choose between following her own happily-ever-after, or repairing those relationships which, based on erroneous first impressions, she has misaligned.
I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen (making my reservation soon for the annual tea to celebrate her birthday) but have I've had mixed results reading books based on her characters or her life. But I knew that this type of book is Syrie James forte so when I was offered this book for review, I didn't hesitate.
It did take me a bit to get into the book but I think that's as much because I jumped straight from an entirely different kind of writing and historical time period as because of anything that James had done. Soon I fell into the rhythm of the book and was carried along with James' vision of Jane Austen falling in love for the first time, the ways of the wealthy in the late 18th century, and the kinds of people who might have influenced her writing.
Edward Taylor was a real person, a man whom, Austen noted in a letter, she had once "doated" on. It's also a fact that Jane and her sister Cassandra traveled to Goodnestone Park to celebrate the marriage of their brother Edward to Miss Elizabeth Bridges. I'm a sucker for a book that blends real people into a fiction novel. James has taken the known facts about these characters and fleshed them out into characters who James imagines as the inspiration for characters who will later appear in Austen's novels. Jane herself, playing matchmaker among the couples present at Goodnestone Park, brings to mind the machinations of Emma Woodhouse, title character of her novel Emma.
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To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen's First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour.
Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie's unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!