Book Reviews: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

by Syrie James
★★★★☆

Written by a Jane Austen scholar, this fictional work begins with the premise that Austen's lost memoirs have been found. The book is written from Austen's point-of-view and covers her late 20s and early 30s. It feels more like a novel than a memoir, but in a good way.

James did an excellent job researching this work and much of it is based in fact, merging real people, places and events of her life with a fictional love affair. She does an impressive job of capturing Austen's writing style and it truly feels like reading another novel from the author.

I loved reading about everything she had to go through to publish her books. It's easy to forget that during her lifetime, turning down a marriage proposal was almost unheard of, especially if you had no money or other prospects. Her true life is more fascinating than any fictional love, but that aspect makes it a fun read.

The plot pulls heavily from Sense & Sensibility and also from Pride & Prejudice, but not without reason. In James' book Austen is inspired to write those things because she experienced them.

It was a delightful, quick read and I can't wait to get my hands on her book, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë.

"I have found that there is never a perfect time or place for anything. We can always find a reason to put off that which we aspire to do, or fear to do, until tomorrow, next week, next month, next year – until, the end, we never accomplish anything at all."

I read this as part of the Everything Austen II challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word.

13 comments:

Cat said...

I thought it was delightful too and looking forward to the CB diaries also.

mari said...

Hi, I joined the Everything JA II challenge, too, and based on this review, I think I'll read this book. I recently read the Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte and thought James did a very good job with that one. I found it intriguing that the Bronte sisters tried so fiercely to keep their identities a secret. Warning: the ending is a bit heartbreaking...

Stephanie said...

YAY! Now I can't wait to read this book. Make sure to stop by here http://www.stephanieswrittenword.com/?page_id=2652 to add your review to Mr. Linky so everyone can follow along with your progress!

Kals said...

This sounds like a great book! The cover is gorgeous and I hope it gets here to India :)

Avid Reader said...

Mari- I'm sure it's hard to give your characters a happy ending when they are based on real people, but James does a good job with what she has. I hope you like it.

Kals- The cover really is wonderful. I hope it makes it there!

Aarti said...

Oh, this sounds interesting! I tend to veer away from Austen fan fiction, but I think (weirdly) I'd prefer to read fiction about her OWN life rather than a continuation or change in the plotline of her characters' lives.

Avid Reader said...

Aarti - I feel the same. I'm really wary of all the Darcy's story, Mrs. Darcy, etc. stuff. But this one was so well researched that it worked for me.

Jenners said...

I'm reading my first Austen book now (P&P). Can you believe it?

Avid Reader said...

Jenners - I can't wait to hear what you think!

Meredith said...

You wrote a wonderful review! I think you will love The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte! I loved it even more than this one! Syrie James is one my favorite authors now!

Avid Reader said...

Meredith - I've had the hardest time finding a copy of the Bronte book. My library doesn't even have one!

Syrie James said...

Hi Avid Reader- I just discovered your review of my novel. Thank you so much for your kinds words. Writing this book about Jane Austen was truly a work of my heart... as was my novel about Charlotte Bronte. I am upset that you are having a hard time finding a copy of THE SECRET DIARIES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE... it should be available everywhere. You can easily order it at any book store or online at:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006164837X?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwsyriejames-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=006164837X
Thanks again for your review. Enjoy the Everything Austen II Challenge, and please visit me at www.syriejames.com!
Syrie James

Avid Reader said...

Thanks Syrie! I'm so glad you liked the review. I' looking forward to reading your Bronte book and the newest about Dracula.