April 24, 2011
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James was a happy find for me. I accidentally came across it at the library, and of course the name “Jane Austen” projected on the beautiful cover caught my eye.
The story is mainly about the man who Cassandra (Jane’s sister) referred to as “the only man Jane ever truly loved”. As has been passed on, this nameless gentleman and Jane met at the seaside, they were planning to see each other again, but then she received news of his death. Well, this story does not follow the latter part - he stays quite alive in this novel. (And it is quite the heart-wrenching story.)
It is written in first person, past tense - because it is, in fact, supposed to be something Jane Austen actually wrote (hence the title.) In the book we imagine that it was found in a trunk hidden in Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen’s residence during her last and most productive years.
In the book the authoress imagines that Jane Austen took ideas from her own experiences and put them in her books; people, and occurrences. Some things you will recognize as similarities to Pride and Prejudice (one of them being a Mr. Collins character), and more occurences that will remind you of Sense and Sensibility (which she was writing at the time this story was supposed to take place.) Personally, I like to think that all of Jane Austen’s ideas came straight from her imagination, but it's fun to read anyways.
The authoress did extensive research about Jane Austen and the time era, and it shows in the book. I do not think it sounds like Jane Austen’s writing, but I doubt anybody could achieve that. One inconsistent thing is that, I never notice Miss Austen describing what people are wearing, and it occurs several times in this book. Syrie James also describes people’s looks, which Jane Austen did only occasionally (like with Harriet Smith). I like to get a picture of how people appear, though. Now, compared to the narrative in Just Jane, I’d say this book sounds a lot like Jane Austen. ;-)
There were some things in there which I doubt Jane Austen would say/do, but nothing so drastic as to make me very mad. ;-)
There’s plenty of interesting and useful information in the back, and Jane Austen quotes (which I always like quite well.) It was an enjoyable book, and I would recommend it to other people who like Jane Austen.