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The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen (edition 2012)

by Syrie James

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687175,945 (4.15)6
Member:bearette24
Title:The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen
Authors:Syrie James
Info:Berkley Trade (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James

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(47) Is there any Jane Austen fan who hasn't harbored a secret desire to meet a brooding Mr. Darcy herself? And what would make things more delicious than to do so while also investigating a potentially-authentic Jane Austen document? Whether you're a fan of the thrill of the academic chase, of gentle romance, or of Austen yourself, you'll find this tale of a librarian on the brink of all of these satisfying. ( )
  activelearning | Jul 11, 2013 |
Okay, I have a confession to make. I have NEVER read a Jane Austen book. There! I said it. I know that seems impossible. I am a book blogger and I love historical fiction. However, I am not a classics type of reader. I know that many of you are thinking that I am missing out on some really great books. I’m sure that is true, but for some reason, I have avoided Ms. Austen’s books. So, when I read about this book, and saw that it had a “now and then” story-line I thought it might be the perfect way to dip my toe into the Austen waters.

As you can see by the number of diet coke goblets, this book was just okay for me. Let’s start off with the good parts.
1.I am a sucker for this type of story. Finding a never-before-seen letter that leads to a quest, to an old house, to find a missing and also never-before-seen manuscript…….. great idea.
2.It was a very quick and easy read.
3.I “liked” both story lines equally. Samantha is obviously passionate about Jane Austen, and as a reader, I was caught up in her hopes to find the manuscript. The a Stanhopes were a sweet family, and since this book is really about the manuscript, their story had a bit more depth. My favorite characters were Mr. Clifton, the new Reverend of Elm Grove, and Laurel Ann, Sam’s bookish but spunky friend in the States.
4.I liked the ending of both stories. I guessed pretty quickly how it would end, and was pleased to see it turn out like I thought.
5.The cover is beautiful.

Now for my not so favorite parts.
1.I almost feel I am not qualified to review this book because I may be missing the point. Perhaps Ms. James was successfully emulating Jane Austen’s writing, and that was the beauty of the book. I didn’t exactly like the formal speech of the Stanhopes, but that may have been the way Jane Austen wrote. Or, maybe that is the exact way that people spoke back then. Probably both. But that formality left the Stanhope story felling a little fake.
2.Tragic things kept happening to Rebecca and her father. An unbelievable amount of tragic things, one right after another. These tragic things were bad, but never changed the tone of the story. It felt like these horrible setbacks were merely inconveniences that were forgotten about quickly.
3.Quick and easy, but it was just too light of a story for me. As I mentioned, the speech of the Stanhope’s story didn’t allow for very much emotion. The characters didn’t feel real and as a result I couldn’t fully sympathize with their situations. The present day story had a bit more emotion, but not much, and it was rushed. Samantha managed to find the letter, track down the manuscript, and read it in just a few days.
4.I didn’t like the main character Samantha. Aside from her focused interest in literature and Jane Austen, she came off as fickle and disinterested.

One of my friends was surprised that I was reading this book, knowing that I didn’t have much interest in Jane Austen to begin with. That being said, she wasn’t surprised by my opinion at all. Overall, this may end up being my only dip into the Austen waters.

Checkout this review and MORE at Momwithabook.com ( )
  kathydassaro | Jun 15, 2013 |
I do love stories where previously undiscovered manuscripts come to light. Because I know my own bookshelves backwards and forwards (and have moved them and unpacked them many times), I know them too well to ever think for a minute that there could be some hidden gem lurking there waiting to be shown to the world. But I don't imagine everyone with bookshelves, especially those in old, inherited homes, is as hands on with their books and particular about their organization as to know everything that sits on those shelves. And the possibilities of attics? Well, that's just beyond exciting when I think in terms of some masterpiece tucked away in a trunk or a crevice. And if the newly found manuscript was written by Jane Austen? Well, that would just be icing on the cake. It would appear that I am not the only one who thinks a find like this is exciting to think about and rife with wondrous potential because Syrie James' novel, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, relies on just such a plot.


Samantha McDonough is a university librarian who once studied English Literature at Oxford but had to leave before earning her PhD to return to the US and care for her very ill mother. She jumps at the chance to return to England when her doctor boyfriend attends a conference there. Taking time to revisit her beloved Oxford, she makes a fantastical discovery when she purchases a two hundred year old book of poetry in a used bookshop. Tucked in the uncut pages is an unfinished and unsigned letter that Samantha recognizes as written in Jane Austen's inimitable style. She is thrilled by her find and certain of its authorship but even more intriguing is the letter's reference to a manuscript regrettably lost and never found at Greenbriar in Devonshire. She can hardly believe that there could be an undiscovered Jane Austen manuscript tucked away in this country estate and barely containing her excitement, she does what any serious Austenite would do; she travels to Devonshire to meet with the owner of Greenbriar and try to convince him to allow her to search for the missing manuscript.

When she arrives in Devonshire at Greenbriar, she meets Anthony Whitaker, who has newly inherited the crumbling Georgian pile from his father. He intends to sell the rundown home because the financial burden is just too great and he is initially dismissive of Sam's quest. But after a little time to consider it, he agrees that he will in fact help her search and their careful looking turns up evidence in a guest book that Jane Austen and her family did in fact visit Greenbriar. This confirmation makes Sam more convinced that the manuscript exists and she and Anthony do quickly find the manuscript. Once it is discovered, the question of what to do with this almost priceless literary treasure looms large with Sam having one idea and Anthony another. As they read The Stanhopes chapter by chapter, they also get to know one another a bit better, discovering a real connection with each other which is threatened not only by the existence of Sam's boyfriend but also by their completely opposing views on how to handle the manuscript's future.

The novel within a novel works here, engaging the reader as much in the Stanhopes' lives as in Samantha and Anthony's. In fact, there might be a bit more unpredictability in the imagined "transitional" Austen novel than in the modern-set portions of the book. James has captured the spirit of Austen beautifully if not exactly the language in this charming homage to Austen's works, themes, and readers. She does a good job of mimicking the basis plot structure, the character types, and the occasional social digs that are so characteristic to Austen's works in her created manuscript of The Stanhopes. And her modern day hero and heroine find themselves at odds in a way that Austen would easily recognize as well. Money still drives the world today, much as it did in Austen's time and although it isn't the only component of happiness, it certainly does make a difference. The end would have been more satisfying if there had been more depth to it but since it wraps up just as it should, it is still pleasing enough. Overall a delightful read, it makes me want to go digging about in old manor homes in England looking for just this sort of tale. ( )
  whitreidtan | Mar 19, 2013 |
Finding a missing manuscript by Jane Austen is any fan's dream come true. I often think it's a tragedy that we didn't get to have more books by Austen. Even though she only finished six books, her influence is still alive today. I've also read and enjoyed the writings of Syrie James. So of course with my love for all things Austen and my admiration of James, I couldn't help but find this book appealing in every way.
Samantha McDonough is the protagonist of this story. She travels to England with her boyfriend. He's attending a medical conference. This gives Samantha the perfect opportunity to do some sightseeing. While out shopping, she impulsively buys an old book of poetry. She later finds that it has a letter pressed between its pages. She is in no doubt that the letter was penned by none other than Jane Austen. After reading the letter a mystery starts to unfold before her.
This book is a story within a story. Samantha does find the missing manuscript of Austen. Syrie doesn't leave her audience hanging though, half the book's contents focus on the manuscript. I enjoyed reading this story as much as the other one. Syrie took quite a few characteristics from Austen's life and books and put them into 'Austen's' new story. As for Samantha's story line, I really enjoyed that as well. Who doesn't love a good mystery? I love the characters, the conflicts, and the resolutions. It did not disappoint.
Overall, I really like this book. It was fun to read, and I didn't want to put it down. If only this book were based on a true story, then is would be perfect.
Read more at http://www.2readornot2read.com/2013/02/review-missing-manuscript-of-jane-austen.... ( )
  mt256 | Feb 25, 2013 |
Syrie James’ The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is a novel within a novel when librarian Samantha McDonough finds a letter in an old poetry book while on a trip to England with her boyfriend, Stephen. Through this mystery letter, Sam begins an adventure through the countryside of England and enters the novel world of Jane Austen. Through her travels she meets Anthony Whitaker, the heir of the former owner of Greenbrier, a small country estate in England. He’s breathtakingly handsome and intelligent, but at times his dream of owning his own company can take over and make him arrogant and stubborn.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2013/01/the-missing-manuscript-of-jane-austen-by-syr... ( )
  sagustocox | Feb 4, 2013 |
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For Yankun and Yvonne, who have brought such love and light to my life. You are lovely, graceful, gifted, dedicated, loving and exceptional women, and I am so honored and grateful to be your "other mother." And for all the jane Austen fans across the globe, who share my reverence and passion for Jane, and always wished there was a seventh novel. This book is for you. I humbly pray that I did her justice.
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The minute I saw the letter, I knew it was hers.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425253368, Paperback)

The minute I saw the letter, I knew it was hers. There was no mistaking it: the salutation, the tiny, precise handwriting, the date, the content itself, all confirmed its ancient status and authorship…

Samantha McDonough cannot believe her eyes--or her luck. Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year old poetry book is a letter she believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning with regret a manuscript that "went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire." Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting to be found? Could anyone resist the temptation to go looking for it?

Making her way to the beautiful, centuries-old Greenbriar estate, Samantha finds it no easy task to sell its owner, the handsome yet uncompromising Anthony Whitaker, on her wild idea of searching for a lost Austen work--until she mentions its possible million dollar value.

After discovering the unattributed manuscript, Samantha and Anthony are immediately absorbed in the story of Rebecca Stanhope, daughter of a small town rector, who is about to encounter some bittersweet truths about life and love. As they continue to read the newly discovered tale from the past, a new one unfolds in the present--a story that just might change both of their lives forever.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:55 -0400)

Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year old poetry book is a letter Samantha McDonough believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning with regret a manuscript that "went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire." Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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