When I picked this book from my local library I missed “A Novel” part of the title. I thought these were some actual journal diaries or letters of Jane Austen. So I was a tad disappointed when I came home and actually started reading the novel.
I do agree it is always interesting to speculate on the disposition of a famous character and do read a story woven around her. Jane Austen has inspired so many Regency romances that its only natural to expect that she may have had one similar romance in her life. And this forms the premise of “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen”. Jane Austen decides late in life to chronicle some of the key moments in her life, her one true love and her journey in becoming a published author so that at some day in the distant future someone might discover this facet of her life. Some part of the books are based on true incidents and some are entirely fictionalized. I was totally gripped in the love story between Jane And Mr. Ashford. How wonderful if it had been true! I liked reading about the various places where Jane stayed and being a part of her daily life.
However, overall, I was honestly quite disappointed. And I dont know why. The book is well written. James’s Ausetn is what you would hope she would be – very much like Lizzie Bennet. But I think that is the main problem.You don’t want her to be Lizzie Bennet, right? As a reader you want Jane to have a personality entirely of her own and not that of her created characters. In the narrative,James borrows heavily from the Jane’s novels in both dialogs and situations. And yes we know life inspires art and its quite possible that Jane created stories out of what she saw around her but it starts getting annoying at some point .It also gets distracting beacuse instead of focusing on the book you are more interested in trying to connect what you are reading to where you have read it before. It also reflects lack of originality on the author’s part. I was often wondering, if she was running out of ideas to what could have happened in Jane’s life,as she has to pick up instances from her books to create Jane’s world.
Well I did not like it. But it doesn’t mean at all that it was a bad book. I would reccommend it to anyone who must compulsively read everything written by and on Jane Austen 🙂