Lindsay Ashford - The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen
"...you will certainly enjoy this different slant on an intriguing mystery."
In 1805 Anne Sharp goes to be governess to the children of Edward Austen, brother to the celebrated novelist, Jane. During that summer Anne gets to know the family and begins to notice that there are unusual emotions and relationships just under the surface. Outwardly a close family, the Austen's seem to be hiding a secret that cannot be divulged, yet perhaps Jane describes events and characters in her novels that will reveal too much for those closely involved. At the same time Anne and Jane develop a strong friendship that on Anne's part becomes something much more heartfelt.
As summer progresses, Anne notices more and more and believes she has detected something unthinkable. Jane seems to agree with her. When Anne oversteps the mark she is asked to leave and goes to be companion to an elderly lady in the north. She hears less and less from Jane and is shocked to hear of her death. When the circumstances are described to her, her suspicions are aroused. Was Jane's death entirely natural?
Starting from Jane Austen's early death and the unsatisfactory explanation of it, Lindsay Ashford weaves a tale describing a possible scenario. Using her novelist's imagination, the author develops the characters of the time and puts passionate flesh on the bones of the Austen family and their household. Factual information and research contribute to the realism of the book and make for a fascinating interpretation of the facts. It provides an insight into the life of a middle class family in early nineteenth century England, whilst describing a mystery that takes time and intellect to unravel.
If you are a fan of Jane Austen and like something a little quirky, you will certainly enjoy this different slant on an intriguing mystery.
Reviewed by: S.D.