Marie Reviews: Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James

Hello everyone and happy Friday!
Today we are joined again by Marie who is reviewing Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James. Here is her review:

Jane looks back on her life with the deepest love and appreciation when her sister, Cassandra, finds a letter briefly mentioning the events of a summer from long ago. In 1971, Jane was fifteen years old and all she wanted to do was finally be ‘out’ like her sister; to attend balls and powder her hair like the most regal ladies of the time was her deepest wish. Her older brother Edward, in the meantime, just got engaged and was inviting his family to the estates of future relatives for a month of celebrations devoted to the couple. Still two years away from seventeen, how was Jane going to enjoy all the festivities of the summer, especially in the company of wealthy families?

The novel follows Jane’s life throughout that life-changing summer where she finally gets a glimpse of what it is like to live amongst aristocratic families. We are introduced to a multitude of complex characters whom Jane learns to love and respect. While the list of characters is long and some characters fall short simply due to length, it is still amazing how well-developed most of them are. Most are written as part of a role we come to expect of the snobby rich - the daughter who marries for money, the mother who only cares about appearances - but are then rounded out to give them a uniqueness that turns them into individuals different from just their intended stereotype (although most still carry their flaws with them throughout).

A commendation to James must be given for creating a truly sensible character in Jane; who at first acts like a proud and shallow teenager then subtly transforms into a young woman who has opened her mind to maybe not judge those of the upper-class so harshly. James truly captures the wit and style of Austen’s writing and expertly writes it into the character itself, keeping true to the Jane we love. It was never difficult to imagine Jane Austen was actually like this as a teenager. Although at times I did want to shake her of her teenager tendencies of insecurity and fits of jealousy, one of my favorite aspects of this novel was how well-written Jane’s character was when we know James is writing between a very fine line of representing Austen properly as a historical figure yet also making her a realistic teenager.

Lest I forget, this novel is centered around the notion of Jane falling in love for the first time. Here is where I’d like to keep things vague simply for the reason that I think it’s worth checking out this not-so-traditional romance. With Jane’s obsession of attending grand balls and finally being a member of society, she of course is also obsessed with the idea of love. It is the main object of her thoughts and writings at the time simply because she has read and fantasized about it for so long. During her summer she meets a certain young man with whom she very quickly falls in love. In the process, she instead learns more about herself, her society, and about that true kind of love, with a much deeper sense of understanding than she had originally sought out.

The only negative I found with this book making it only a decent read was the tedious-ness with which most of the book had to be tackled through. I will mention, however, that that particular cause was never from the author’s writing who remains steady throughout, but instead to my own personal preference in writing. I have never been a huge fan of classic writing styles and find the events of the times, particularly these in the Romantic Period, to be incredibly boring. We have to experience with Jane the inordinate amounts of time spent just sitting in room making small talk.

If you’re a fan of classics or Jane Austen, then I would highly recommend this novel as it definitely does justice to its namesake and brings you back to an era not often indulged in these days. Even not being the biggest fan of classics, like myself, I very much appreciated the believable characters and representation of the times brought to us by the author.

Basic info. about this book:

Name: Jane Austen's First Love
Author: Syrie James
Review Source: Provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publishing Company: Penguin Group - Berkley, NAL/ Signet Romance, DAW
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating (out of 5): 4.0

Recommend? Yes!

Where it can be purchased: The Book Depository | B&N | Amazon

Author online: goodreads | website | Twitter

So, that's it! I hope you enjoyed Marie's review as much as I did. If you would like to contact her or just comment on the review, simply comment below!

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Until next time-


1 comment:

  1. Hi Janelle! Just found your awesome blog (came from VBC!) I've spent a few minutes browsing and already have several new books to add to my TBR pile. BTW, I'm in orlando too, do you ever organize book meetups, or know of a cool book club where they enjoy PNR and UF reads? would love to find people with similar interests


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