Friday, November 21, 2014

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James - Review and Giveaway Announcement

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James
Published August 2014 by Penguin Group
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
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.

Syrie James, hailed as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings” by Los Angeles Magazine, is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels that have been translated into 18 languages. Her books have been awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Discover Great New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine. Syrie is a member of the WGA and lives in Los Angeles. Please visit her at, Facebook or say hello on Twitter @SyrieJames.

Grand Giveaway Contest 

Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages 

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!


  1. This sounds like a really good book. Thanks for sharing your review!

  2. I think it would be so much fun to jump back in time to see how close to reality Syrie's imaginings of the characters are. Her characters in this book seem so alive.

  3. Oh this sounds interesting! I've only read 2 of Austen's books but I am hoping to read more very soon. I like this kind of fictional nonfiction though I'd probably need to read a little nonfiction about her first. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I've enjoyed James's other books, especially the one on Charlotte Bronte! Looking forward to this one!

  5. I really enjoyed this book. James is really good at delving into Austen's world.