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Monday, October 19, 2015

Review: First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett



Blurb from Goodreads:
A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times–bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times–bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now Lovett is back with 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 A 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.
My Review:
Just imagine if you discovered a first draft of your favorite novel that no one else in the world had ever read and, not only that, you discovered some family connection to the edition?  First Impressions sets off on such a course and is a brilliant narrative told in both the past and present points of view of this journey.  I loved this book and I could not put it down -- both the imagined history and the mystery in the present of trying to discovery the history were so good!! 

I highly recommend this to fans of Jane Austen -- it imagines an entirely different Jane Austen (with some truth) and an entirely new (with some truth) version of the way in which both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were written.  There is a great note at the end of the book explaining which portions are based upon real historical documents and which are imagined entirely.  I appreciated both the explanation and the transparency! 

First Impressions came out recently, you can purchase HERE, and I highly, HIGHLY recommend it! 
Sophie had never held a first edition of Pride and Prejudice.  She had never had the opportunity to run her fingers over those spectacular words as they had appeared in print for the first time.  Somehow seeing them here in this volume from 1824 brought home to Sophie that Jane Austen had actually written these words.  They had not simply appeared out of the ether.  Sometimes, she thought, sentence like that become so famous that we cannot conceive a time when they did not exist.  We can remember our own first encounters with those words, but that mankind should have a first encounter with them seems almost impossible.  But mankind did have a first encounter with Sophie's favorite sentence in all of literature, and she now held that first encounter in her hand.

5 comments:

  1. So I have never read Jane Austen (I know so bad) but love the whole premise of this book. I also like the past and present views are shown. Great review!!

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  2. Can you believe I've never read a Jane Austen book. >.< WHAT is my problem?!?! This sounds like a great book!

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this one too. And I got to meet Charlie at a book event and he was a charming person, which is always nice to be able to say when you've liked their book.

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  4. Don't faint: I've never actually read Jane Austen! I've watched Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion, and more sooooo many times, and soooo many versions I feel like I have. Love the stories. This sounds really good. I'll have to check it out. Great review, Eva! :)

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