The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James
Anyone who calls themselves a fan of Jane Austen and her novels needs to read this book. Like right now… so go buy it!
If you need a little more convincing, I suppose I will give you some reasons of why I read this book in 3 sittings. I have never read a Jane Austen biography or any sort of memoir about her life before so I was not quite sure of what to expect but I was enthralled from the beginning. I already had a working knowledge of Jane Austen's life but that didn't change the fact that I couldn't stop reading this book. I already knew the outcome but I wanted to know how Jane Austen lived.
James was able to write a memoir about Jane Austen through Austen’s voice, not as a 3rd person narrative. You will not feel like you are reading a recount of Austen’s life; James was able to make me feel as though I was a confidante of Austen’s hearing her desires, wishes, and fears. While reading her memories, it is clear that Austen took a lot of her life's experiences and put them into her stories. Basing her characters after family members, friends and acquaintances. It was fun to think of the real inspiration after some of the most famous characters in literary history.
Much like Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood, after Austen's father passed away, the women of the Austen household were forced to give up their home and live with family members until they had worn out their welcome and would then move on.
It is during those travels that Jane Austen meets the handsome and charming, Mr. Frederick Ashford. Without giving too much away because this novel really is too good to spoil, I will simply say that Mr. Ashford is a mix between Willoughy and Edward from Sense and Sensibility.
The readers follow Miss Austen as she is finally able to find a home for herself, her mother, and sister, Cassandra, which was provided by one of her more well-off brothers where she continues to work on her novels.
Austen also shares her re-writes to her novels. Most of her novels were already written during this time and had different titles. For instance, Pride and Prejudice originally had the title of First Impressions before Austen re-wrote it. The allusive Mr. Ashford is largely responsible for the publication of Sense and Sensibility.
If you are a fan of Jane Austen, this novel is a must read; it will truly not disappoint.