The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen – Book Review


by Syrie James

ISBN: 978-0-06-134142-7

Published: 2008

I am scrambling now to read a Jane Austen biography, to remind myself that this tale of her life is fictional.  I wish so much that it were true.  The content of her work feels so real to me, that I truly believe, some must have been actually witnessed by herself.  Given my belief, I easily fell into this lovely FICTIONAL memoir of Jane Austen.

A chest, bricked into a manor house attic, is discovered during repair work.  The contents of the chest, manuscripts and a ruby ring, prove to be fantastic as they are memoirs written by Jane Austen.  Written in the last years of her life, they relate events involving herself and a gentleman she meets at Lyme, Mr Frederick Ashford.

The charming Mr Ashford inspires feelings and expectation in Jane that she had long since stopped hoping for.  They meet only briefly and rarely but are both effected by the deepest of connections. Their acquaintance  inspires Jane to pick up her pen again, not having written for 10years and she revisits her beloved novel Sense and Sensibility.  Having always had to imagine the feelings of a woman in love, now she can write with authority on the subject and it brings truth to her characters.

I loved this book and after returning it to the library will be purchasing a copy for my Austen collection.  Blending real facts with the imagined gives this book a feeling of truth and you will have to keep reminding yourself that it is a story only.  If you don’t like the assumptions made by books narrated by true historical figures, then this isn’t for you.  I felt very comfortable with the way Syrie James presented Jane and felt she was true to the woman who shared so much of herself through her books.

Posted on 17 August '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews.

7 Comments to “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen – Book Review”

#1 Posted by Maria Grazia (17.08.09 at 17:25 )

Nice personal review, Michelle. It’s not that you must feel guilty if you liked something which doesn’t sound too academically Austenish. It’s a “fiction”alised biography and can be fun, why not? I warn you, if you read Jane’s real biography you can only wonder how she came to be so extraordinarily ahead and above respect to the little time, space, experiences she lived. Her life does sound very simple, uneventful, even plain … Nothing comparable to the lives of her characters!

#2 Posted by Michelle (17.08.09 at 19:29 )

Thanks Maria, I do have a biography here still to read – but Syrie James wrote such a lovely story for Jane. The letters that still exist don’t give much away so let’s pretend that her family destroyed the letters that contained all the delicious details of forbidden romances after her death. Leaving us free to make-believe on her behalf.

#3 Posted by Stephanie (18.08.09 at 04:40 )

This one is on my Everything Austen Challenge list – now I can’t wait to read it!!

#4 Posted by Heather (18.08.09 at 08:19 )

This one looks great! One more to add to the list…

#5 Posted by Karen (18.08.09 at 19:59 )

I loved this one when too! It was so easy to get caught up in the narrative and believe that it wasn’t fiction after all!

#6 Posted by Heather (20.08.09 at 01:35 )

Michelle, I have an awesome award for you:

#7 Posted by Lisa (30.11.09 at 14:59 )

I think a book that you check out and read and then have to go buy anyway makes it a book that I need to get my hands on!