Her newest title,however, Jane Austen's First Love, pretty much outdoes them both as this story sheds a little light on Austen's life and times, particularly , a romantic leading man that came into her life well before a certain Tom Lefroy(considered to be the one great love of her life) arrived on the scene.
Here, we find Jane at fifteen, anxious to be out and about in the world, especially when it comes to dances and being allowed the fashionable privilege of powdering her hair. Upon the news of her brother Edward's engagement to Elizabeth Bridges, Jane and her sister Cassandra(along with one of her brother and the ever anxious Mrs. Austen in tow) go off to Kent during the summer of 1791 to meet the in-laws.
A bit of carriage trouble finds Jane being introduced to one of the Bridges' neighbors, a Mr. Edward Taylor of Bifrons. Edward and Jane seem to get along instantly, as they both share a lively wit and enjoyment of daring challenges such as a walk across the top of a high garden wall. While she does her best to keep her strong liking for him under wraps, Jane can not help but show off her playful side, much to the dismay of her sister and mother:
Jane does not cause a true scandal, of course, but her great desire to be well thought of by Edward leads to much excitement when the chance for attending a dance held by family and friends arises.
Even with the grand allowance of powdering her hair for the occasion, Jane becomes a bit anxious about her opportunities for dancing with Edward as his cousin Charlotte is being gently but firmly pushed as a desirable partner for him and not just for a dance. Nonetheless, she and Edward do get a moment on the dance floor to themselves and their conversation proves to be just as nuanced as their steps:
She decides to spend some of her energy in a bit of matchmaking, as another sister of Elizabeth's named Fanny is also engaged and seems rather displeased with her choice of future husband. To that end, Jane proposes during a rainy set of days for a home theatrical to be put on by the assembled young people.
The play chosen is Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Eve(to be held on Midsummer's Day) and while the production goes off without a hitch, the intended romance rearrangement backfires, leaving Jane ashamed of her presumption in that regard. That is not the only disappointment to be had as she slowly comes to realize that Edward Taylor has a few flaws such as a reckless urge to take risks that endanger more than himself,leading to the first real argument between them:
I was granted the chance to discuss Jane Austen's First Love as part of Syrie James' Holiday Blog Tour for the book and am delighted to be spreading the good word about this delightful book. Ms. James has a strong flair for Regency era writing and she captures the essence of our dear Jane remarkably well.
She did a good amount of research here, as many of the characters are real life figures, and her findings are woven into the story along with hints of Austen's own characters in a way that doesn't stop the action of the plot into a full halt. Even if you think you know all there is to know about Jane Austen, this story offers a good number of surprises and suspenseful moments. Plus, you do root for Jane and Edward to be together, one way or another.
My thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress for inviting me to take part in this blog tour(which does have several giveaway opportunities to check out here) and much appreciation to Ms. James for providing us with such a charming love story based upon one of our greatest literary heroines. Jane Austen may not have gotten her full happily ever after but she has blessed us all with many a fine romance better than any fairy tale could be: