Jane Austen fans will know that the 100th anniversary of the publication of Mansfield Park, and this story is a wonderful diversion for Austen fans, as well as a great introduction to the lady author, a favorite of many.
Oh how I love stories set in bookshops, that contain far more than one would expect at first glance. Charlie Lovett gives us a story in two parts – a lovely little mystery with a romance in the present day, based on Austen novels, and a parallel storyline that is focused on Jane Austen herself and her relationship with a clergyman who encourages her writing and fuels her aspirations. Both stories add to one another, giving the reader plenty of scope for solving the mystery or guessing wildly.
Sophie’s beloved Uncle Bertram has died, and his debts have required the liquidation of his not unsubstantial collection of rare and not so books. Sophie is furious with her father, and is determined to see the collection to new hands, while she ferrets out the cause of her uncle’s death. To that end, she takes a position in a bookshop, where two collectors are searching for the same rare title, and will go to great lengths to secure their prize.
As she is researching to find this particular book, the story of Sophie and Jane start to proceed along their parallel path, providing a lovely mix of past and present, familiar and new to the reader. Add in an American academic with a penchant for Austen and an eye for Sophie, and the romances from Jane and Sophie seem to blend and switch places, even as you are working out the mysteries.
Beautifully written with a twist in that the epilogue comes from the protagonist rather than the narrator, this little story is a quiet jaunt that is the perfect cup of tea and a fireplace story: sure to please readers who appreciate cleverly crafted stories that feel familiar but are utterly unique.
Title: First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen
Author: Charlie Lovett
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Published by: Viking
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 52 minutes
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A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author ofThe Bookman’s Tale
Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.
Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.