I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett
Published by Books on Tape, Viking on October 21st 2014
Genres: General Fiction
A thrilling literary mystery co-starring 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 weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery 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.
It seems like the perfect plot for a Jane Austen enthusiast right? Oh, how I wish that was true. I felt that First Impressions read like fanfic. The writing seemed a little amateur. This was mainly in relation to Sophie. She came off as Shaggy from Scobby Doo, uncovering the mystery manuscript.
Impressions While Reading
As a Janeite myself, the idea, even fictitious, that Jane Austen may have plagiarized her novels seemed disrespectful and had to hold back my outcry. The plot was a bit messy and the threats derived towards the plagiarism prospect appeared preposterous, adding another chink to the chain.
I enjoyed Jane Austen’s hypothetical relationship with clergyman Mansfield and climb up the literary ladder with her authorship of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Although, the majority of the book dealt with Sophie and we all know how I felt about her. I even listened to a bit of this on audio, hoping that it would bring life into the story but the narrator, Jayne Entwistle inhabited valley girl Sophie perfectly and therefore just annoyed me more.