Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jane and the Barque of Frailty

Book: Jane and the Barque of Frailty (9th in the Jane Austen Mystery series)
Author: Stephanie Barron
Like/Don’t Like: Like

It’s a very fine line to walk, loving Jane Austen. You start out loving her books and then suddenly you find yourself in a Jane chat-room and you've given yourself the name darcylover4ever and you’re organizing fancy dress tea parties and there you are at the annual Jane Austen convention discussing the merits of Captain Wentworth and you think to yourself, “Good heavens! What have I become?!"

This is exactly why I avoid all those Jane Austen knock-offs that have flooded the book market. Seriously, there are so many of them that a publishing house could dedicate itself entirely to books depicting exactly what Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy did after their wedding and never go out of business. Unless someone I trust has specifically recommended one to me I stay far, far away. You can never be too careful. If I ever start calling my purse a reticule then you know I have gone too far and need an intervention.

Years ago Cynde gave me the first of this series and it sat on a bookshelf for 2 years, purposely forgotten, because I didn't want to turn into one of Those Girls. But then one day, probably out of desperation for something to read, I picked it up and couldn't put it down (this proves that you should always trust your best friend’s judgment in books). I liked it so much that I actually ventured into the popular fiction section (Fact: I had never been in the popular fiction section before this. All those books - romance, mystery, and sci-fi- fall under the category of Books I Never Read in my Youth So I Don't Actually Remember that They Exist Until Someone Tells Me about Them.) and bought the rest in the series. They are surprisingly well written books.

Jane is the narrator and, like all mystery series detectives, has a keen ability to stumble upon dead bodies. The mysteries are fairly surprising and the pacing is good. And it’s pretty impressive how close the author gets to the tone of a Jane Austen book. She’s always in a different locale so it give some variety to the books but there are a few recurring characters, mostly her family, who keep it familiar. The series has declined a little, especially after one of the main characters dies in a later book, and this last one felt a little forced. But it was still a really fun read. I’m recommending the whole series.

And I’m serious about the intervention.

Note to Laura: Don't bother.


Laura said...

Thanks for the warning! If they could have a "New American Translation" of Jane's books - I'd probably do o.k....but you would probably hate them!

Rac said...

I'm glad you reviewed one of these books--I keep forgetting to ask who the author is so I can buy them or at least find them at the library. Thanks!

Lori Smith said...

Enjoyed your post! It is a very fine line... I pride myself on having never, ever dressed up in Regency attire. ;-)