Jane and His Lordship's Legacy by Stephanie Barron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Oh, poor Jane Austen, if she had only been born during the time of current copyright laws, her wealth would rival that of JK Rowling, and she would have been able to quash, or at least control, the secondary industry of knock-off Jane Austen lit proliferating book store shelves.
Part of the subset of Jane Austen lit is Stephanie Barron’s Being a Jane Austen Mystery Series, a sequence of 8 books, beginning with Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, and recreates the writer Jane as a part time detective solving unexplained local murders. I am not a reader of J. A. knock off lit – but my Everything Austen Challenge coaxed me to expand my reading preferences to accomplish my year end goal. I discovered these books while shelving mysteries at the library.
In Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy, Jane, her mother and sister have recently moved to Chawton, her final home and where she would pen most of her novels. Upon taking up residence at Chawton Cottage, Jane is shocked to find a rat-eaten corpse in the cellar of her home. From that point on, the mystery involves a recently deceased love interest, the theft of an ornate “Bengal Chest” belonging to her late paramour, a combination of Lords and Ladies, and a crumbling estate, Stonings.
My first mistake in choosing this book was starting with the 8th book in the series. Can you imagine starting Harry Potter with Deathly Hallows??!! I purchased this book at a used book store and was under the impression that they were stand alone mysteries. I would have been better served to start with an earlier book, so I would have some back ground into Jane Austen’s mystery life. In Lordship, Jane is obviously distraught over the recent death of a love interest – “The Rogue.” Through the first several chapters, I kept thinking “who the heck is this Rogue guy?” It finally occurred to me that their relationship and his subsequent death were detailed in a previous book. That knowledge would have been helpful.
However, even without the historical background earlier books would have provided, I thought the author did a commendable job in recreating Jane’s unique prose and her rural village life. I loved how she incorporated Jane’s real family – brothers, mother and sister – and their documented past (the property they owned and the places they lived). She has done meticulous research and her use of footnotes was particularly enjoyable. Conversely, I wished that Ms. Barron would have referred more to Jane Austen the “author” throughout the book – what novels she would have been working on while sleuthing.
All in all, a thoroughly pleasant read, but next time, I would start with book one.
Book source: private purchase/used book.
Everything Austen Challenge: 2 of 6 completed
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