this was not intended to be a DBR, but know that it is hot, and i am drinking these incredibly girly “green apple bite” smirnoff ices. many of them. ice cold and delicious. so my plan is to lucidly elucidate why me and this book didn’t get along, but it might take me a while to collect my thoughts as i sit here and pound these things, so who knows what will happen by the end of it all. we may indeed get a little D.
i honestly don’t know who this series is for.
austen fans seem to love them. not austen fans like elizabeth, who refused to read this with me, but the reviews on here are sky-high. and i have snooped around a little and the people seem to be pleased with the authenticity of “austen’s” voice, and the thrill of feeling like you are getting to read an all new book by jane austen.
me, i am not a fan of jane austen, so i neither love the voice of the story, nor am i in a position to gauge its authenticity. i don’t hate jane austen, i am even worse—i am someone who is indifferent. that’s worse, right?? because she should be able to inspire passion, one way or another. but frankly, i just don’t give a damn. the style seems austenlike, in that it was kind of boring, and there is a lot about ratafia and nuncheons and she spells sofa with a “ph.”
here is the first sentence:
Mr. Wordsworth or Sir Walter Scott should never struggle, as I do, to describe Spring in Chawton: the delight of slipping on one’s bonnet, in the fresh, new hour before breakfast, and securing about one’s shoulders the faded pelisse of jaconet that has served one so nobly for countless Aprils past; of walking alone into the morning, as birsdsongs and tugging breezes swell about one’s head; of the catch in one’s throat at the glimpse of the fox, hurrying home to her kits waiting curled and warm in the den beneath the park’s great oaks.
OH MY GOD WHEN WILL SOMEONE GET MURDERED ALREADY?
i read this because i am a fan of byron, and i was in preparation to read the all “new” reissue of what they say is the best biography of him ever. thank you, melville house, thank you charles. in the past, i have read about byron as a (literal) vampire, byron as villain, byron as victim, byron as ghost-maker. it was time to read about byron as murder suspect.
but stephanie barron doesn’t really care about byron. byron is a prop to her. in the author’s Q&A at the back, she says: Some of the books are so faithful to Jane’s letters that I’ve used the actual calendar of her week as the structure of the novel—and included everyone she mentions as a character.
well, that’s great, right?? did she show the same care with the real-life person of byron?? not so much. he never met jane austen. he never hogtied and kidnapped a fifteen year old girl with the goal of a forced marriage. he was never a murder suspect. does that matter?? i guess not, as long as the dresses are described in all their details.
i am pleased about one thing here—she did not take the route that gives caroline lamb the role of “girl driven mad by byron.” dear caro was a trainwreck well before she and byron met—therein lay the attraction. but implying that byron was”not mentally healthy” is reductive. he was by no means a paragon of gentlemanly behavior, but who would be, in his position? i flipped through The Last Living Slut while shelving last week and i learned that many men who are in “rock star” positions behave in a less than admirable way, particularly towards the women waiting outside their houses for them. byron really was the first rock star—his kind of fame and its range was unprecedented. women unknown to him dressed themselves like him, mailed him letters and jewelry and…hair clippings.
this is no place for jane austen. to the fainting chair!!
(holy shit—one of these bottles in the six-pack was “raspberry burst” and not apple. i thought my mouth was going crazy until i read the label. phew.)
incidentally, it is perfectly fine to read this one, the tenth on the series, without having read any earlier works. there are plenty of footnotes which address earlier cases that jane austen has solved, as well as points of interest to the real jane austen and history in general.
but not byron. who cares about that lunatic??