The Jane Austen Project

A Novel
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (238 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Perfect for fans of Jane Austen, this engrossing debut novel offers an unusual twist on the legacy of one of the world's most celebrated and beloved authors: Two researchers from the future are sent back in time to meet Jane and recover a suspected unpublished novel.

London, 1815: Two travelers - Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane - arrive in a field in rural England, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. Turned away at a nearby inn, they are forced to travel by coach all night to London. They are not what they seem but rather colleagues who have come back in time from a technologically advanced future, posing as wealthy West Indies planters - a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren't the first team from the future to "go back", their mission is by far the most audacious: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen herself.

Carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common besides the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in. Circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen's circle via her favorite brother, Henry.

But diagnosing Jane's fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the continuous convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile the woman she is with the proper lady 19th-century society expects her to be. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history intact and exactly as they found it...however heartbreaking that may prove.

©2017 Kathleen A. Flynn (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Fun But Lacking Character Depth

What made the experience of listening to The Jane Austen Project the most enjoyable?

The author clearly did significant research into the period, and did a good job of weaving historical factoids into the story. That gave it a certain richness in places that was quite enjoyable.

What about Saskia Maarleveld’s performance did you like?

She did well giving personality to some characters that were otherwise a bit flat.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I chose this book for an extended car trip (6 hours each way). I wasn't enthralled by the story, but content enough that I was satisfied for the drive. It did it's job, but I don't know if I'll listen to it again.

Any additional comments?

Flynn's writing is solid, but the book never really pushes that far above mediocre. For me, the big thing holding the book back from excellent was lack of character development. The writer was never really able to make me care very much about her creations, and some of their decisions were simply baffling. SPOILER: For example, the main character's decision to have a sexual relationship with a man posing as her brother, despite the fact discovery would ruin everything she's supposed to care about most. It was not only extremely dumb, but also seemingly out of character for someone whose biggest character trait thus far was their devotion to saving Jane and not screwing up her job/the time continuum. There were other things like that which made the characters and their decision making seems shallow. END SPOILER.All that being said, it's still much better than a lot of the Austen-related books pumped out in recent years. It's a good beach read—just don't expect a lot more than that.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good-ish

I've fantasized about time travel, so glimpsing what daily life in 1815 would have been like was a blast. The details of Jane Austen's life, her friends and family, was the best part of the book. And yet it was easy to stop listening to, and I wasn't in a rush to pick it up again. The story of our main characters, the time travelers, just wasn't gripping. My mind wandered, and I'd have to back up. Though it had a fantastic premise, the book was strangely dull.

4 people found this helpful

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Will There Be A Sequel?

Any additional comments?

In the feeling of Jodi Taylor's St Mary's series and the All Souls trilogy from Deborah Harkness, Kathleen A Flynn brings us a sweet, rich time travelling tale. Rachel, a humanitarian physician, and Liam, an actor-scholar, travel back to 1815 to save Jane Austen's letters to her sister Cassandra and possibly bring back her manuscript for a lost novel.

The story is a love letter to Austen -- the author's passion for Austen and her times helps bring the era to life. And I'm hoping for a sequel -- will Rachel and Liam return to the 19th century to explore the mystery surrounding the Bronte sisters? I certainly hope so.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Story

Loved the story and the narration. And a must read for all Jane Austen lovers!!!

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Why haven’t you fixed this?

To the editor and narrator: there are MANY glaring mispronunciations in this work and I am dismayed that this title, from 2017, has not been corrected! To name but a few: The famous author Anthony Trollope- his last name is pronounced trol’ up, accent on the first syllable. And the city Basingstoke: Long a, not short! Do you just think Americans (who haven’t lived in England) won’t notice? Shame!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable!

This may contain some spoilers!

I’m a Jane Austen fan through and through (seriously named my daughter Austen after her). And I adored the concept of this Jane inspired book and that it combined the regency era with time travel and the future.

The author did a great job bringing Jane’s character alive. And I really enjoyed the main character too. I loved their challenges in infiltrating in and acclimating to proper English Regency life.

Here is where I drop some spoilers. So stop here if you must. I did not adore the main character Rachel/Mary falling in love with her colleague. I feel as if when drawing up his character the author was going for a Lizzie Bennet and Mr Darcy romance..... but he was no Darcy and she though lovely and interesting no Lizzie. It seemed forced. His character seemed flat to me. But then again maybe it was something with the way he was portrayed in the audible reading and I’d have felt different had I actually read the book myself.

I was actually rooting for Rachel/Mary to be with Henry and stay in regency England. Alas even though I wasn’t in love with the romance of the novel I did enjoy the escape and the writing.

The book eludes to a “bronte project” at the end which makes me wonder if it’s a possible follow up book to be seen by the author in the future. If so I’d still happily read it as well.

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"Timeless" TV Show Lovers Look No Further

If Timeless wasn't based on this book it was damn sure inspired by it. It was a sincerely enthralling piece I couldn't hit pause on. I listened nonstop till it was over and I'm sick over it. Wonderful book, wonderful reader, great characters, immersive context... the whole package. Highly recommend!!

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What genre is this?

In the end, my feelings about this novel weren’t very strong, and I decided it was because it didn’t fit anywhere. It’s not science fiction though time travel is the source of most of the action. It’s not historical fiction either because its purpose is not to tell us anything much about the early nineteenth century or even about Jane Austen. It’s also not a romance novel, though the protagonists fall in love. That lack of a focus simply produced very little in the way of a reaction in me.

I also thought the narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, was generally quite good, switching easily between American and British English accents, but she needs to be better educated to avoid pronunciation errors such as the total failure to pronounce Anthony Trollope‘ s name correctly. There were others, but that was really indicative of a lack of knowledge of English literary history. Given the subject of this novel, that should be something directors/editors listen for.

Disappointing in the end

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Excellence

I absolutely love time travel, Jane Austen and a romance. This book was beautifully written and I actually loved it way more than I thought I would. don't miss out on this book.

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sorry, just unsatisfying on many levels

Is this a time travel story? If so it is not a good one. Is this a romance novel? A mystery? A send up of Jane Austin? Regardless not a good example of any of these. I did stick it out to see what happens but I should not have, the ending was flat too. So many better choices out there.