The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James

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The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Samantha discovers a lost novel by Jane Austen. Will she get the opportunity to share it with the world, or will it go to a private collection?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Berkley
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780425253366

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A newly discovered, incredibly rare, handwritten manuscript of a previously unknown Jane Austen Novel is to appear at auction in London. The neatly written but heavily corrected pages are for a full length work entitled 'The Stanhopes'.

Unfortunately, the press release above is part of a work of fiction, novel within a novel with the intriguing title: The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. The story starts with the discovery of a letter tucked inside a poetry book. The letter was written by none other than Miss Austen herself. The really exciting news is that it hints at the existence of an unpublished novel, written by Austen in her youth, but later lost in mysterious circumstances. Samantha, the finder of the letter, goes off in search of the missing manuscript, following the clues to a stately home in Devon called Greenbriar and an encounter with its enigmatic owner, Anthony Whitaker.

On finding the manuscript, the narrative then weaves back and forth between the contemporary account of Samantha and Anthony and Austen’s novel, The Stanhopes. Syrie James cleverly manages to connect the two stories, with interesting parallels between both accounts. Although I preferred The Stanhopes to the modern story, I found that this innovative approach to storytelling worked well, as I was interested in the eventual fates of all the characters involved.

James has done a wonderful job at emulating Austen’s writing style. Her characterisation is spot on, and the book includes all of the familiar Austen themes; a flawed hero, a rakish villain, a bold heroine, farcical misunderstandings and awkward proposals. Fans of Austen will not be disappointed. I particularly liked the 'Miss Wabshaws', a pair of spinster twins living in the village, who finish each other’s sentences. James has created a rich tapestry of characters and an immersive world for them to inhabit.

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is a real gem. James is an authority of all things Austen and her enthusiasm and genuine affection for her subject shines through on every page. I was only sorry that the story had to come to an end. I’m sure that Jane Austen herself would have enjoyed The Stanhopes as much as I did.

For another modern take on Austen, try The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer

Buy The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James at Amazon.com.


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