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The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen (edition 2012)

by Syrie James

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11115108,775 (4.09)7
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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I'm a fan of Jane Austen pastiches so naturally I had to read this book. Did I enjoy it? I'd rate it between 2.5 to 3 stars and I upped it to 3 on good behaviour.

The plot was well set up - special archives librarian goes on trip to England and discovers a lost manuscript of Jane Austen's while simultaneously falling in love with someone not her boyfriend. Love that is not her boyfriend is prickly and can't stand her. She can't stand him. Does this sound familiar? (It should. It's the set up to Pride and Prejudice.)

But the character's background and coincidences became a little too perfect. Obviously her best friend owns a bookstore. Obviously she likes book so she's a librarian. Obviously she once started a degree at Oxford and had to leave and lo and behold, one of her mentors is one of the most renowned Jane Austen experts. Obviously the boyfriend that is not her boyfriend does benevolent works that redeems him in her eyes (Hello obvious Mr. Darcy!).

When things started to get a little perfect and the only conflict seemed to be with the character and her erstwhile boyfriend -- you know, the one she didn't fall in love with? -- I start to get bored. C'mon author, gives us more of the character's flaws and paint us a character who has difficulty whatever but don't bore your readers with your Mary Sues!

The meat of the book is the book within the book, the "missing" Jane Austen manuscript, is the byproduct of James' imagination. The thing is that it's almost always impossible to write as if you were another author. Sure, I could see the setup of the "missing manuscript" be something that Austen would crank out but something was off about that story. The explanation we're given is that it's one of Austen's earlier works and hence why the story struggles on a bit. But eh. Something doesn't feel right.

Would I recommend this book? It's an Austen pastiche and even with the clunky "missing manuscript" story, with the whole of the book wrapped around like a Pride and Prejudice retelling, I would add it to a "you might want to but don't necessarily need to" list.
( )
  byshieldmaiden | Jan 17, 2017 |
Thoroughly enjoyed and how fun if a missing Austen manuscript had been found. Present day story of a Samantha, who is an Austen aficionado who stumbles across a letter that may lead to a missing manuscript. The letter itself was tucked into the pocket pages of an old book of poetry that Samantha purchases in a bookstore of rare books while she is visiting London with her boyfriend Stephen who is a doctor.

I loved how the author incorporates the missing manuscript into the story for the reader and all of the references to Austen's other stories. I look forward to reading the author's other works. What a great concept for a novel.

( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
First off, I'm a big Jane Austen fan so I'm not always objective about Austen-inspired works. I always want to enjoy them and suspend judgement so I can re-experience the magic, but I'm also aware they're usually not as good as I want them to be, so I don't trust my judgement.

This was a very clever book -- both the discovered manuscript and the story around it -- and it felt like a more believable Austen book than usual. The plot, characters, and the writing ring true to Austen without copying Austen's lines. Bravo! ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
First off, I'm a big Jane Austen fan so I'm not always objective about Austen-inspired works. I always want to enjoy them and suspend judgement so I can re-experience the magic, but I'm also aware they're usually not as good as I want them to be, so I don't trust my judgement.

This was a very clever book -- both the discovered manuscript and the story around it -- and it felt like a more believable Austen book than usual. The plot, characters, and the writing ring true to Austen without copying Austen's lines. Bravo! ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
While flipping through an old book of poetry she purchased at a second hand bookshop in London, Samantha McDonough is surprised to discover hidden within its pages a letter that appears to have been penned by Jane Austen. Even more surprising is that the contents of the letter point to the existence of an previously unknown Austen manuscript that was lost while the author was on a visit to Greenbriar, a stately manor home in Devonshire. As a long-time Jane Austen enthusiast, Samantha is excited at the prospect of discovering the lost manuscript and immediately sets out for Greenbriar in the hopes of finding it. While the owner of Greenbriar, Anthony Whitaker, has doubts about Samantha's quest for the missing manuscript and initially denies her request to look for it, Samantha's assertion about the potential dollar value of the manuscript ultimately encourages him to both allow the search and to help her with it. Almost immediately upon finding the lost manuscript Samantha and Anthony begin reading it and, before long, they are captivated by the story of Rebecca Stanhope, the daughter of a country rector with little experience of life outside her small village. As they become further absorbed in Rebecca's story, Samantha finds herself becoming increasingly drawn to Anthony. As they eagerly read the final pages of Rebecca's story, Samantha wonders how this chapter of her own life will end.

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is sure to delight any Jane Austen fan. While Samantha's quest for the manuscript and her relationship with Anthony form the foundation of the book, it is the content of the manuscript itself, which takes up the bulk of the narrative, that makes this story come alive. Syrie James has done a remarkable job of capturing Jane Austen's voice, so much so that one might think they were reading Jane Austen's own words. It is also obvious that James is thoroughly familiar with Austen's novels, as the inspiration for many of the characters and events in the manuscript can be found within the pages of Austen's books. Although this novel is two stories rolled into one, both narratives are captivating and both heroines are worth rooting for.

A delightful novel that you simply won't want to put down, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is a must read for all Jane Austen enthusiasts.

Note: A copy of this novel was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:01 -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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