Reviews for Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen


Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #2
An American librarian discovers a never-published Jane Austen manuscript. Samantha has accompanied her cardiologist boyfriend, Stephen, to London. While he attends a medical conference, she explores the environs of Oxford University, where she had pursued a doctorate in English literature before abandoning her studies to care for her dying mother. While browsing in a musty bookstore, Sam comes across a volume of poetry which contains an unfinished letter that her practiced eye (she's now a rare-books librarian) identifies as having been written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra. The letter mentions an early manuscript, circa 1802, which the then-unknown future authoress had mislaid at a Devonshire country house called Greenbriar. Anthony, a venture capitalist and the latest heir to Greenbriar, is happy to help locate the manuscript, particularly if its auction proceeds can save Greenbriar from creditors and fund his own startup. The manuscript, entitled The Stanhopes, is found in a secret compartment, and Sam and Anthony sit down to read the novel in its entirety, along with the reader. The Stanhopes is a very passable Jane Austen facsimile, with believable period locutions, much shorter sentences and more melodrama. (It would, after all, have been Jane's first novel.) The plot details the fortunes of a village pastor, the Rev. Stanhope, whose wealthy patron casts him out of his parish, home and livelihood on a charge of gambling away church funds. When Stanhope is supplanted by the patron's own nephew, the reverend's clever, beautiful and musically gifted daughter, Rebecca, correctly smells a rat. Nevertheless, until his innocence can be proven, father and daughter must embark on an itinerary of exile during which they are reduced to relying on the at-times-dubious charity of close or distant relatives. This richly imagined Jane Austen "road novel" is such a page turner that the frame story, with its obvious but far less dramatic parallels to Rebecca and Stanhope's plight, seems superfluous. A standout addition to the crowded archive of Austen homages. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Express Reviews
While in Oxford, England, Samantha McDonough buys a very old book of poetry and finds secreted inside a partial letter that discusses a lost manuscript and a home called Greenbriar. A former Oxford grad student specializing in Jane Austen, though she never got her degree, Samantha is positive the letter was written by Austen to her sister. Unfortunately, the Greenbriar estate is now in the possession of Anthony Whitaker, the son of the late owner, who sees in the property only a crumbling money pit. No Austen fan himself, Anthony is intrigued, however, by a possible literary windfall. After scouring the manse, Anthony and Samantha uncover The Stanhopes, the story of Rebecca Stanhope and her vicar father, who are forced to leave his parish over the issue of missing funds. The Stanhopes travel to family in Medford, where they meet a young physician who seems smitten with Rebecca, and later to the seaside town of Bath, where they run into Mr. Clifton, the young vicar who replaced Mr. Stanhope. Verdict Readers will relish this latest "find" from James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen), who does have a flare for re-creating the sense and style of the beloved author. The modern treasure hunt isn't as agile as the "missing text," but both are unpredictable and absorbing. Fans of Austen and of James will enjoy this new discovery. [Reading group guide.]--Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #2

James's interpretation of the "story within a story" provides a literary feast for Anglophiles. While visiting England, American librarian and Jane Austen fan Samantha McDonough buys a dusty, ancient book of poetry containing a hidden letter penned by Austen. Addressed to her sister, the letter references Austen's never-before-seen manuscript, The Stanhopes, and suggests the unseen novel to have been mislaid "at Greenbriar in Devonshire." James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen) sends Samantha on a frenzied journey of authentication, research, and footwork as she attempts to track down the missing manuscript. She is introduced to an antique-filled manor, Greenbriar, and its handsome owner Anthony Wickham who, upon Samantha's urging, finds a peculiar "puzzle box" cached in the back of a cabinet. Inside is The Stanhopes, a multimillion dollar treasure and James's novel within a novel. That book is gradually authenticated, but there is another conflict still to resolve: Samantha wants the manuscript published for the masses believing it "will set off a global wave of Janeite frenzy"; Anthony selfishly wants it auctioned for millions to the highest bidder, most likely a private collector. They appear deadlocked until Anthony becomes a student of Austen and her themes, prompting his life-affirming conclusion and ensuring an Austen-worthy ending. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

James's interpretation of the "story within a story" provides a literary feast for Anglophiles. While visiting England, American librarian and Jane Austen fan Samantha McDonough buys a dusty, ancient book of poetry containing a hidden letter penned by Austen. Addressed to her sister, the letter references Austen's never-before-seen manuscript, The Stanhopes, and suggests the unseen novel to have been mislaid "at Greenbriar in Devonshire." James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen) sends Samantha on a frenzied journey of authentication, research, and footwork as she attempts to track down the missing manuscript. She is introduced to an antique-filled manor, Greenbriar, and its handsome owner Anthony Wickham who, upon Samantha's urging, finds a peculiar "puzzle box" cached in the back of a cabinet. Inside is The Stanhopes, a multimillion dollar treasure and James's novel within a novel. That book is gradually authenticated, but there is another conflict still to resolve: Samantha wants the manuscript published for the masses believing it "will set off a global wave of Janeite frenzy"; Anthony selfishly wants it auctioned for millions to the highest bidder, most likely a private collector. They appear deadlocked until Anthony becomes a student of Austen and her themes, prompting his life-affirming conclusion and ensuring an Austen-worthy ending. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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