Friday, April 07, 2006
Jane and the Wandering Eye - Stephanie Barron [March/06]
Jane and the Wandering Eye is part of a mystery series by Stephanie Braddon that covers Jane Austen's life but imagines her as a detective. Jane and the Wandering Eye is the third book in the series, actually, but it was all the store had at the time and I wanted to see if I was going to like the series before searching out books 1 and 2. I am very picky about my mystery novels, I rarely ever like ones set in contemporary times and prefer ones with a historical background. I really enjoyed this novel, though, so I am glad I took the chance on it.
The novel takes place around the Christmas period of 1804 with the conclusion of the case occuring on Christmas Day. Jane is bored with the town that her parents have decided to take up residence in, Bath, and is looking for an adventure, presumabley a new case because by the time she was in this novel there had been two before it. Jane has a sort of lover in the novel, it is nothing formal but she is often seen with Lord Harold Trowbridge. In this novel, he is the reason that her adventures begin. The Lords niece, Lord Desdemona, has arrived in Bath so as to avoid the attentions of her suitor, Earl of Swithin. Jane is asked to keep an eye out for Desdemona and see if there is another man that has caused her to so hastily turn away from the Earl.
The novel takes a deadly turn, though, because while Jane is at a party at Desdemona's grandmothers, a man is stabbed to death. There is a man found standing over him that the police believe is the guilty party, but Jane and Lord Harold think otherwise and decide to take the law into their own hands. Specifically because the suspect is Lord Harold's nephew, Lady Desdemona's brother. I originially thought it would be strange to have a mystery series centred around Jane Austen, because obviously her life is well-documented and it makes you wonder how Braddon would choose to use the facts. Upon reading, though, I found that everything that happened did not overtly break with the times and never really showed Jane Austen any different than she would presumably be. The novel is written as if Jane Austen herself were writing in her diary and telling what adventures she had the day before. I think this style fits with the novel quite nicely.
I recommend this series quite adamently. You will feel like you are in 19th century England, an experience that you will enjoy immensely and then there is the case keeping you guessing who the guilty party is.
The first two novels in this series are:
Jane and the Unpleasentness at Scargrave Manor
Jane and the Man of the Cloth