Tuesday, 2 November 2010

THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN BY SYRIE JAMES - MY REVIEW

 My latest Austenesque reading is IL DIARIO PERDUTO DI JANE AUSTEN, the Italian translation of Syrie James's THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN. It's a book I got as a gift last June from my mates of the Jane Austen Book Club (see journal of the last meeting and the funny picture of me with  an awkward expression at receiving my gifts!) It has been a very pleasant reading, an intriguing story , which actually I had already "lived " in my mind and which I was so happy someone wrote down for me. Well, not only for me of course! Jane Austen's life as I wished it to be.  
This is my last task for the Everything Austen Challenge II and one of my reads for Jane Austen is My Homegirl Reading Challenge .


It is officially presented like this ...
What if, hidden in an old attic chest, Jane Austen's memoirs were discovered after hundreds of years? What if those pages revealed the untold story of a life-changing love affair? That's the premise behind this spellbinding novel, which delves into the secrets of Jane Austen's life, giving us untold insights into her mind and heart.
Jane Austen has given up her writing when, on a fateful trip to Lyme, she meets the well-read and charming Mr. Ashford, a man who is her equal in intellect and temperament. Inspired by the people and places around her, and encouraged by his faith in her, Jane begins revising Sense and Sensibility, a book she began years earlier, hoping to be published at last.
Deft and witty, written in a style that echoes Austen's own, this unforgettable novel offers a delightfully possible scenario for the inspiration behind this beloved author's romantic tales. It's a remarkable book, irresistible to anyone who loves Jane Austen—and to anyone who loves a great story. 

My review 


In Becoming Jane young Jane Austen is hooked by dashing Tom Lefroy and even agrees to  an elopment.  In Miss Austen Regrets ,  mature Jane regrets missing the chance of marrying and looks melancholicly at her niece’s love life . In the beautiful book I ‘ve just finished reading , THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN,  Syrie James imagines quite mature Jane in love with and loved  by a rich, handsome and fascinating Mr Ashworth. Their love story has got traits of the stories we all well know and love: Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.
The novel , of course,  ends as anyone can expect since we all know that Jane never married ( and Ms James researched every detail so accurately).  The blend of biographical elements -  based on documents and letters -  with the events and characters from the novels results into an amiable page turner,  highly recommendable and, especially, believable! Never was fiction so near to the truth and  this is exactly how I’ve always interpreted Jane's decision not to marry: 

1. She must have loved to be so good at writing her very special love stories 
2. She must have loved someone she couldn’t marry to be so skillfull at describing that situation and the consequent  suffering.
Mr Ashworth is a unique character because he is a real Austen hero but, furthermore,  he combines three of Jane’s most loved  male characters:   Darcy, Edward Ferrars and Willoughby (though Mr Ashworth shares his first name with Captain Wentworth’s, Frederick). He lives at Pembroke,  an incredibly huge and beautiful residence in Derbyshire which  closely reminds of Pemberley. He is a baronet and , apparently, the heir of a huge patrimony . They meet in Lyme and he saves Jane from falling and hurting herself.  But their relationship is not simple and straightforward. Ashworth , like Edward Ferrars,  becomes awkward in his attempt at wooing Jane and the reason is the same: he also hides  a secret engagement. When Jane discovers Ashworth’s secret, she is terribly disappointed and suffers desperately,  like Marianne when Willoughby turns her  down .
It was such a verosimile scenario that I had to make an effort to convince myself I was reading fiction and not a biographical novel, more than once, while reading. It is historical fiction based on some documented facts, but so well written that, as I said above,  it sounds even truer than the truth!

5 comments:

Avid Reader said...

I loved this one!!!

Meredith said...

This was one of the best biographical fiction novels I've read! How I wish it was true!

Mystica said...

I hope I can get to read this!

Eliza said...

I loved this novel, too! It is an amazing read and one the best biographic fiction I have ever read (and I would not mind reading it again ;-) )

Claudia said...

I've read this book too, and I loved it!