Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Many rumors abound about a mysterious gentleman said to be the love of Jane's life—finally, the truth may have been found. . . .

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.

It seems there are a lot of books with or about Jane Austen being published lately. And I'm doing my best to read the ones that seem more interesting even if sometimes they turn out to be not so good.

That is not the case with these Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. The author starts with a note explaining how during some works or renovations in a house Jane Austen lived in some papers were found that later turned out to be Jane Austen's diary. I was a bit worried about a diary, thus in the first person, by such a famous character as Austen but in the end I found it very enjoyable.

The memoirs supposedly tell about a period in Jane Austen's life about which we have no letters or any other documents. It describes her life after her father died when she, her mother and her sister Cassandra find themselves in lack of funds and have to resort to share a house with the wife of one of her brothers till her brother Edward offers them a cottage in his property. It also approaches her love life telling of the love she shared with a Mr Ashford and of the reasons she did not manage to attain the happy ending she gave to almost all of her characters.

Predictably we can recognise in some of the people she deals with and in some of the situations she finds herself in scenes that that will later appear in her books. I thought it was well done and appropriate and quite enjoyed them.

Overall I thought it a really nice and interesting story of what could have been. Just one thing that let me a bit down, the basic of the story is too close to what happens in the movie (I haven't read the book yet) Becoming Jane. I was disappointed in that movie in a way that I wasn't with this book. The feel of the period, the atmosphere in much better here. Why didn't they adapt this one instead?

Grade: B


  1. Wonderful review Ana! I've been eyeing this book and now added it to my TBR, due to your review.

  2. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  3. Agreed, I enjoyed this so much more than the movie Becoming Jane (though I think part of that was Anne Hathaway, who struggled with the accent. I don't understand why they couldn't cast a UK actress.)

    I didn't realize Becoming Jane was a book as well. There's a book with Charlotte Bronte from Syrie James in the works, I noticed on amazon recently.

  4. Yes, Becoming Jane was adapted from a novel by Jon Spence.

    I wish that new Syrie James book would be published earlier. It seems such a long time till 2009...