Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

What? A memoir written by our dearly departed Jane Austen has been found? Whew, now all our questions will be answered, like: What was up with Tom Lefroy anyway, was he maybe batting for another team? Who inspired that droll Mr. Collins Endless Summer sort of sex appeal? Did her home fires ever burn wildly for a special someone named Fitzwilliam? We're saved!

Alas, no..not exactly.

But for the most part, this was an okay attempt. Not very original, but isn't it a pretty cover? This is not the first to tackle the long lost correspondence of the famous author, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is one I've read recently, and I'm certain it won't be the last. I find the concept very interesting. The letters that still exist are amazing! Loved the book by Penelope Hughes-Hallett. Imagine what we could gain from such a find? Besides glory, wealth beyond your wildest dreams, unfound fame, etc.

Written more in novel than diary form, in Lost Memoirs we learn what happened to Jane during the lost years while she lived in Bath with her family, and an occasional memory from earlier on. A time when she supposedly was reworking what was to become Sense and Sensibility.

And there's a man in her life, a Mr. Ashford, who instead of, according to historians, being the poor curate from Lyme and dying like he's supposed to, we'll...he made a miraculous recovery. And guess what, not only are he and Edward Ferris almost identical twins, but he's the one that encouraged her to start writing again! The parallels between what James has made of Austen's life and that particular novel are almost one in the same. Not very original, right down to people's names, incidents, phrases from her novels, etc. Which I can understand her borrowing, with the - did Jane Austen write what she knew kind of questions, but it was a little much for me by the end.

The writing is good though, and I'll still admit, birthday cakey fun. Did I mention the pretty cover? I love Jane Austen's story. Reading this did not hurt my infatuation with the woman's life. I want to know more about her, and Syrie James obviously knows her stuff, and like her book on Charlotte Bronte, included some Austen extras in the back. My problem is I'm now not sure what is fact or what is fiction. I want the mashed potatoes and gravy, I want the filling peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread, because sometimes too much birthday cake just makes me break out, and hungry again in an hour.

But you know what, I still almost always inevitably eat it.
Always.
3 stars

8 comments:

StephanieD said...

Neither mashed potatoes and gravy or peanut butter go with that pretty cover, though.

Nina said...

OMG, love the first one! That one sounds so amazing.

I totally adored Sense and sensibility! It is a great story, indeed.

Lula O said...

Oh yeah? I'm pretty sure potatoes go with anything. If you make them fit. So easily shapeable those potatoes..

I loved Sense and Sensibility too! I'm currently reading S&S&Sea Monsters and am enjoying the monstery similarities. No monsters in this one though.

Marie said...

I enjoyed this book also although like you it became hard to figure out what was fact and what was part of the story. But it was a fun read.

Lula O said...

It was, wasn't it. Have you read her other one on Charlotte Bronte? She branches out a little more with the story line there. I liked it better than this one.

celi.a said...

Ha! I like your bit about birthday cake...

You're right, the cover is gorgeous. I think I'd pick it up solely for that fact. But I might not finish the book...*sigh*

Great review!

Lula O said...

Thanks! It was an okay book. Fun to learn some more about her life as she did include some true details. You just have to guess which is which.
Mmm, I do love birthday cake, not as much as pie, but who doesn't?
:D

Laura's Reviews said...

Great review - I need to add this book on to me giant TBR list!