Okay, I need time out to explain, because this month of reviews is a little different than the last. June is Jane month! That would be Jane Austen, just in case you were wondering. ;) Now here’s the twist. I’m not going to spend the month reviewing Jane Austen’s novels. Not one. I’m going to take a look at how four modern day authors have taken their own spin on Jane’s work and life. Don’t clock out on me if you’re not particularly a Jane Austen fan! I’ve tried to choose books, especially in the mystery and romance side of this month, which will appeal to readers regardless of your Autentation leanings. (I know that word is spelled wrong. That’s the point.)
So, with that said, let us begin. And begin we shall with Stephanie Barron’s Being Jane Austen Mystery series. What’s this? Jane as a sleuth. Yes, it’s true. You see, Miss Barron discovered the long lost journals of Jane and as it turns out she was involved in a number of murderous investigations. Well, at least that’s how this story begins.
The story is based on the life of Jane Austen, rather than her writings. It turns out that Jane makes a pretty good addition the ranks of armature sleuth novels and her life lends itself to that format. As a spinster with a large family and many friends stretching across England, Jane often traveled, allowing each novel to be set in a different location. And of course, with her usual sharp wit and ever ready aptitude for evaluating society, she makes for a very good narrator of each puzzle, be it the poisoning of an English Lord of the hanging of a local laborer.
As a Jane follower: This is a fun series because you get look into the life and era of Jane. If you love Jane then you’ll love getting closer to her world and the events that shaped her life.
As a regular mystery reader: If you not a Jane follower, but a devoted mystery lover (and that is of course the reason why you’re not a follower of Jane…you don’t have time for classical romances with all those good mysteries out there) I still think you can enjoy these as simply historical mystery novels. Stephanie does not write as if you already know everything about Jane. And there is a deep historical layer that adds to the mysterious moments, like when poor Jane is pursued along the streets of Bath by a potential killer.
There are eleven books in this series, of which I have read the first three. I know, that is a slow beginning, but the series is not written as if each book is a necessary to complete the others. Think of this more like Miss Marple mysteries. Each is a contained mystery in itself with the common denominator being Jane’s appearance over the body. Though, I would recommend reading the books in order because I have noticed there is a tendency to reference previous books in a way that could spoil some of the mystery.
So there you have it. Jane Austen most definitely was involved in some seriously mysterious moments and she was ready and able to find the killer who ruined a lovely Regency ball.
The only question that remains is: Can you believe it?
P.S. Check out the Home Page to see the of the Jane-ish books we’re covering this month.