I actually had the pleasure of winning this book in a Goodreads giveaway.This is the perfect book to have won because I did my senior seminar on Jane Austen for my BA; I have read every novel and many criticisms on her, as well as studied various aspects of the time period, and this book is excellent for someone with such an interest.
Any Jane Austen fan will find this book amusing, witty, and captivating!
The edition that I am reviewing is an uncorrected proof (not for sale) used for the publisher to get early feedback and reviews on the novel before its release on MAY 2, 2017! This is Kathleen Flynn’s debut novel, and she is worthy of entering the world of authorship. Her writing is intelligent and crisp, and the novel reads just like a Jane Austen novel.
Plot-wise, it is about two people working for the Jane Austen Project–Rachel and Liam–who travel back in time to 1815 to make ties with Henry Austen, Jane’s favored brother. Their goal: steal Jane’s letters to her sister before they can be destroyed as well as the unpublished novel The Watsons. The two play the part of brother and sister having come from a slave plantation in Jamaica, keeping their true identities a secret, but for how long can they keep up the ruse? When Rachel and Henry become a little too well acquainted, their plans may fall to ruin. But what about Jane? Jane, a soon-to-be-endearing friend to these newcomers finds the time travelers to be…well..just not quite able to fit in.
Told from Rachel’s perspective, it is fun to see how the mission takes form and how the duo attempts to not alter history…too much. The end was interesting, but also the reason I did not give it a five out of five rating. I love time travel and the concept of it when it can be presented clearly, which I think it was, but the whole alternate reality thing was a bit of a put off, and so was the way we were left of with our main characters. Of course, this could be changed before the final printing of the book. Like I said, I like where it went, but at the same time it is the one thing that docked points on the rating. The rest of the novel is set in 1815 with minor glimpses every once in awhile of the condition of Earth and how it was at present. Just getting those little glimpses kept the imagination working, but seeing everything in the whole final chapter was somewhat disconcerting.
Overall this was a fantastic read and well researched. I loved the use of carriage by name (the way we address Toyota and Porsche, basically) like Curicle and Barouche-landau, and the description of the attire and the smell in the streets. Flynn left nothing out of the time period. We see the reality of chamber pots, even by the gentry, and lets not forget the boys used for chimney sweeping! It is a novel authentic to the era and worthy of the wit and intellect of Jane Austen. While no one can really know what these people were like when they were alive, the novel really gives them an aura and a character that represents them in a realistic manner.