That’s just what Syrie James has done. The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen details Samantha McDonough’s amazing discovery of another novel by Jane Austen, hidden away for many years in a private library. Interspersed with Samantha’s story is Jane’s novel from start to finish. It really is a clever way to try your hand at imitating Jane Austen while still keeping your readers hooked with a modern-day story.
I love Jane just as much as the next person (sometimes more, depending on who that next person is), but I also realize that it is almost impossible to write just as Jane wrote. I see the flaws in Syrie James’ attempt (especially the beginning of Jane’s supposedly undiscovered novel. That drove me a little crazy and didn’t give me high hopes for what was to come). But gradually the characters and the plot won me over. No, Syrie James didn’t write exactly like Jane Austen. But her amusing characters and twisty plot certainly do Jane justice.
Samantha’s story was also well-told, although rather more predictable than the Jane Austen section. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Enough so that I plan on picking up James’ other related Jane title – The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Austen lovers need something to cling to and broaden their repertoire, and Syrie James adds creditably to this collection.