Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Syrie James gives us some summer lovin' with Jane Austen's First Love

Author Syrie James has done very well when it comes to writing novels about literary figures, particularly Jane Austen as her prior books The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen have shown us eager readers.

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:


Although Jane realizes that the chance of her and Edward being together are slim, due to the vast differences in their fortunes, she does hold out a little hope there.

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:


 Things are soon set to right but not without a price to be paid and a small touch of heartbreak. The entire experience may not have worked out as Jane would have liked,however the inspiration for her novels yet to be are planted in her mind for future reference.

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:




25 comments:

lagina reese said...

Love that you did so much research for the book. nrslalee00@yahoo.com

Dina said...

very interesting reading about Jane Austen at 15 yrs old

Luisa Baudino said...

Love the excerpts of the movies you chose to support the plot of the book! Great choice!

Deanna Stevens said...

I have never read jane austen so I learned a little more here today :)

Deanna Stevens said...

Learning more about Jane Austen, I haven't yet read any of the stories..
dkstevensne AT outlook doTCom

Kimberly V said...

What a wonderful way to highlight the book.

Laurie I said...

This was a phenomenal book! So beautifully written!!

Lauigl [at] carolina [dot] rr [dot] com

Cheryl Baranski said...

Excellent read. Love Jane Austin style books.

Pamela Hunter said...

Can't wait to read the book! Thanks for the movie excerpts! They fit in quite well. :-)

schilds said...

It is a wondeful book that helps lessen the pain of knowing Jane never married. It gives the hope that at least she knew what it was to be in love.

Jo's Daughter said...

Our dear Jane in a play, what an original idea to have her be an actress :)

lady t said...

Thanks,folks-glad you like my take on the book and hope you all get to enjoy JAFL this season:)

Susan Heim said...

I love that this fills in some of the gaps in Jane Austen's history. Sounds like a great read!

Caryl Kane said...

Jane Austen's First Love is at the top of my Wish List! :)

Caryl Kane said...

Jane Austen's First Love is at the top of my Wish List! :)

Deborah Ann said...

I will hopefully be able to begin the book this weekend. It sounds beautiful, but in a sad sort of way, as we know she doesn't get the HEA all her novels end up with. skamper25 (at) gmail (dot) com

Denise said...

I can't imagine wearing hair powder! It must itch.I wonder what direction Jane's writing would have taken if she had married and had children!

Thaddeus said...

Lady t, I think all the love you're getting here in the comments section is a great sign of just how good a job you do at writing about the intersection between literature and film. Congrats!

lady t said...

I thank you for your kind words,sir* does a slight curtsey*

Birdhouse Books said...

Lovely post - I enjoyed reading this. A novel about Jane Austen at age 15 sounds fascinating!

glindathegood@bellsouth.net

Poof...books! said...

How ingenious to collect all of those Jane clips. Now even though I am sad this tour ends today I have a full list of movies to start on for the season. And although I have seen them all before nothing wrong with a Jane watch a thon over the holidays.

Jessica said...

I look forward to this new take on an old favorite.
rickjess@sbcglobal.net

Jessica said...

I look forward to this new take on an old favorite.
rickjess@sbcglobal.net

Beth said...

Thanks so much, I always love Jane Austen clips!
dez3b at yahoo dot com

Madeleine Odendahl said...

The more I read about this novel the more excited I get!