Charlie Lovett first delighted listeners with his New York Times best-selling debut, The Bookman's Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature's most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.
Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice - and ultimately threaten Sophie's life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie's quest to uncover the truth - while choosing between two suitors - and a young Jane Austen's touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
©2014 Penguin Group (P)2014 Charlie Lovett
Translation of my title: if you love everything about reading about people who love books, physically and mentally, you will love this book. If you love Jane Austin you will not be able to put it down.
I loved this book. Lovett is able to breathe life into the historical character of Jane Austen in a wonderfully unexpected way. And I felt Sophie's deep connection to Jane and the mystery that drives her in every line of the prose, so much so that I found myself in tears (the good kind) frequently as I listened. Entwistle's voice seemed too young for the story at first but within a couple of chapters I was so involved in the plot her narration seemed perfectly natural. If you like books about books, and love Pride and Prejudice then this book would be a great pick.
Enjoyable book with events of the current time interspersed with flashbacks with characters searching for an obscure book related to Jane Austen 's writings.
Well written, wonderfully narrated story that is interesting but borders on the edge of credulity. First a nod to the narrator: she's great. The book goes back to recount 20 year old Jane Austen’s friendship, one centered around books, with an 80 year old retired minister, leading to Jane’s early publications and in present day to deal with a recent Oxford graduate bibliophile and ardent fan of Jane Austen. That the synopsis mentions that the woman’s life if threatened over the search for a book published in Austen’s times that few have ever heard of and fewer who have even read it. I found that the search for the book and the solution to the mystery lead to a suspicious death and a ruthless antagonist carried things a bit too far. But, overall, this was a worthwhile listen.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the Bookbinder's Tale I embarked upon the next Charlie Lovett tale. It couldn't be as good as the other, could it? Yes! First Impressions was another great romp through time with a beloved literary figure. Thanks Charlie!
Vermont Audio Lover
I wanted to like this book. I am a Jane Austen fan, and I appreciated the historical detail and accuracy about Jane Austen's life. I felt that the book started out slowly. At some point in the middle, I had hope that it had turned a corner, but I was disappointed. I found it hard to believe that Sohpie couldn't tell that Winston was not an honest character. I did like the focus on printing and the book world. Sohpie's social life left me cold, though, and it was a lot of the focus of the book.
I've listened to other books that Jane Entwistle narrated, and I have always liked her. I agree that her narration didn't quite work in this book. She has an ability to express a "smile in her voice," and I found it off-putting in this book.
Perfect narration! Fabulous story line! Mystery, romance, history & Jane Austen!
I think I will need to re-read all Jane Austen's works starting tomorrow!
Loved listening to this story!
Maine Colonial 🌲
I have mixed feelings about this book. I've enjoyed Charlie Lovett's books before, and his specialty is dual-narrative literary mysteries, so I figured another one would be a good bet.
The older narrative involves Jane Austen and imagines a story about her inspiration to write Pride & Prejudice––or, as it was originally titled, First Impressions. The contemporary story features a young woman named Sophie, a bibliophile with a particular interest in Jane Austen.
Sophie's love of books came about through her relationship with her favorite uncle, Bertram, who lives in London's Maida Vale in a flat filled with his book treasures, most hunted down in old book shops, but a precious shelf coming from an annual choice out of his family's ancestral home.
As a result of a series of shocking events, Sophie pursues an investigation into the history of Pride & Prejudice and its possible relationship with a book written by a clergyman–––a book that two mysterious men have commissioned her to find. In her investigation, she also hopes to involve mysteries involving Uncle Bertram and his library.
As in other Lovett novels, the contemporary story includes a romance element. Those familiar with Jane Austen will note certain resemblances between Sophie's love life and some Austen romances. This is not necessarily a positive for a mystery, since it makes it only too obvious how that plot will play out. Another problem with the contemporary plot thread is that Lovett has Sophie make some stunningly dumb decisions that needlessly put her in danger. I hate it when writers do that.
The Jane Austen plot is more appealing, though it's not very lively if that's what a reader is interested in.
Jayne Entwistle chooses a too-cute voice for the tone of the novel. I've heard her normal speaking voice, which would have been better. Instead, she goes up into a more soprano level and puts an overdone laughing tone into her reading. It isn't terrible, but it is a little bit grating.
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