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Jane and the Man of the Cloth (original 1997; edition 1997)

by Stephanie Barron

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566717,572 (3.82)8
Member:wisewoman
Title:Jane and the Man of the Cloth
Authors:Stephanie Barron
Info:Bantam (1997), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:My Library
Rating:
Tags:Regency Period, Mystery, Jane Austen Wannabe

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Jane and the Man of the Cloth by Stephanie Barron (1997)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Despite its title, Jane and the Man of the Cloth is not about a clergyman. It is, rather, about a vengeful smuggler who is known to his Lyme compatriots as "The Reverend." (I just thought of something...he's a man... who smuggles silk. He's a man...of the cloth. Hee hee. OMG I'm tired. No more midnight gym!) I think that the combination of Jane Austen + Pirates could be brilliant. So when I discovered that this second Jane Austen mystery was about smugglers (a close relation to pirates), I jumped ever so slightly for joy. You'll recall that these are by no means actually "found" manuscripts of Austen's as the foreword to the first book will have you think, but fictional ruminations on Barron's part.

Barron has done her homework, and for that I must applaud her. For one thing, she's centered this book around a letter that we have from Jane to Cassandra in September of 1804 (I've found that having my copy of Jane Austen's Letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye, handy while reading Barron's work has been very helpful) and on some non-fiction accounts of smuggling in Lyme. And she has pieced these things together with an expert hand. I have to say, these elicit accounts of Jane's life (what might have been, if you will) are almost as exciting as discovering the real thing. Jane, as many of you will be aware, died a spinster, so to have even a hint of a possibility of some episodes of her life being more adventurous and romantic than she ever let on, that's fascinating and exciting.

True as ever to Austen's own voice as well as to her own handiwork, Barron weaves here a tale of murderous vengeance, shocking escapades, and magnificent escapes. It is a narrative fabric to be admired (hee hee cloth). As I pointed out to my gym buddy: no, there's no "sexy-time" (which I'm sure would be a disappointment to some) but the out of character heart-thumping and clandestine passion that this version of Jane Austen does express is, I think, sexy enough for the modern reader.

Lauren Cartelli
www.theliterarygothamite.com ( )
  laurscartelli | Sep 27, 2011 |
Besides the great mystery and historical detail, Barron has a wicked sense of humor

Manners meet mayhem again in the second Being a Jane Austen Mystery, Jane and the Man of the Cloth. It is 1804 and Jane and her family are traveling by post chaise to Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast to escape the oppressive summer heat in Bath when their carriage is overturned and Jane’s sister Cassandra injured. Seeking help at a local estate, Jane and her family take refuge at High Down Grange and are thrown into the care of its mysterious owner Geoffrey Sidmouth and his beautiful young cousin Seraphine LeFevre. The manor house and its owner have enough of an oddness about them that our observant Jane thinks something amiss.

With Cassandra on the mend they arrive at their rented cottage at Lyme and are shortly joined by Jane’s brother Henry and wife Eliza. After a walk on the Cobb Jane witnesses a heated exchange between Mr. Sidmouth and a local worker. The next day the man is found dead, bound hand and foot, swinging from a makeshift gibbet at the end of the Cobb. Intrigued, Jane seeks out the best source of information that a young lady of her gentility can garner: the mercantile shop and the weekly Assembly Dance. There the local gossip from Mrs. Barnewall, the Crawfords, Lucy Armstrong and the dashing naval officer Captain Percival Fielding inform Jane that Mr. Sidmouth is much more than the enigmatic romantic figure that she has suspected. Deep into the Napoleonic Wars, the Dorset coast is a hotbed of smuggling, spies and espionage whose ringleader, the notorious “Reverend,” or the “Man of the Cloth,” is known to favor fine silks in his nighttime free trade. Jane is conflicted over her feelings for Mr. Sidmouth and the fact that Captain Fielding claims he is the culprit. When Fielding is found murdered and Sidmouth arrested, Jane is asked by the local authorities to aid in the investigation setting her on the path of intrigue and danger.

This is my second novel in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series. It was another delight. Barron in known for interlacing known facts from Jane Austen’s life into her plots. This period of history for Jane is a bit of a mystery. There are very few letters remaining and only family lore alluding to her unfortunate love affair with a clergyman that she met on a seaside holiday who later died. This “nameless and dateless” romance leaves lots of room for speculation and opens up the possibilities of a great mystery plot which Barron uses to her advantage. Our Jane is much more adventurous and daring in this narrative, sneaking out at night and investigating caves. We do get our share of Assembly Balls, frocks and finery, but the action was occasionally outside what gentile ladies are usually allowed to do, and at times I thought is a bit unbelievable – almost Jane Austen/Nancy Drew.

The historical detail always brought me back into focus and I especially enjoyed the footnotes, though I understand they annoy some readers. I found myself laughing out loud, when I fear I should not, when Jane is introduced to High Down Grange with its dark, unkempt and unwomanly appearance and its present broody owner Mr. Sidmouth with his snarling dogs Fang and Beelzebub. Evoking memories of Bronte heroes, either my brain has been addled by too much historical romance reading, or Stephanie Barron has a wicked sense of humor!

Laurel Ann, Austenprose ( )
  Austenprose | Feb 13, 2011 |
I enjoyed this second book in the Jane Austen mystery series even better than the first. I found it much easier to get into the story. I'm still not crazy about the fact that it's supposed to be Jane Austen involved in solving the crimes but I just ignore that and enjoy the mystery. This took place in Lyme, involving smuggling and murder. Who was "The Reverend" - the feared leader of the smuggling ring? Was it the gentleman that Jane found herself falling for? Who murdered one of the men suspected of being part of the smuggling ring? Jane is determined to find out all, even if she risks her own life to do it. ( )
  jannief | Aug 18, 2009 |
This second mystery is set in Lyme with all the associated smuggling activity. There are echoes of 'Pride and Prejudice', particularly in the beginning of the novel - but Jane is wiser than her heroine and isn't fooled by appearances for long (which is a good thing if you are solving murder mysteries!) ( )
  tjsjohanna | Apr 5, 2009 |
I too was a little hesitant to start this Jane Austen series, but my love for historical mysteries drove me to try. I am glad that I have begun the series. This is the second book in the series, and it is better than the first. There is everything here, romance, intrigue, smugglers, spys and of course Jane Austen at the centre of it. It is located in Lyme during September of 1804, right smack in the mddle of the tension between France's Napoleon and England. Jane loves Lyme, and does not expect it to be a hotbed of intrigue, and with deaths occurring in unexplained ways. She sets out to unravel the mystery when a man she has met is arrested for the murder of another young man that Jane had met and danced with at the weekly assembly. She certainly gets more than she bargained for, and finds herself in some danger when she is very close to solving the mysteries in Lyme. This series is excellent, and I can't wait to read the next one. ( )
  Romonko | Feb 21, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephanie Barronprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barron, Stephaniemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the expectation of pleasure is generally preferred to its eventual attainment — the attainment being marred, at its close, by the resumption of quotidian routine made onerous by the very diversions so lately enjoyed.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553574892, Paperback)

One of the sweetest surprises of the recent Jane Austen revival has been the exquisite Jane Austen mystery series begun by Stephanie Barron's Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor. Fans of Jane Austen will appreciate the detailed and stylistic sensitivity of Barron's sequel. When a storm forces Jane to take shelter at the home of Geoffrey Sidmouth, she uncovers a mystery surrounding her host's character and a powerful romantic attraction as well. But this is Austen on the case, and you can count on propriety at every turn. Jane's ear for gossip and her careful manners make her a super sleuth in this romantic mystery full of Victoriana and literary charm.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:51 -0400)

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Jane Austen becomes involved in the mysterious events of a manor house when the carriage she was riding in overturned and she sought help from its residents.

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