I thoroughly recommend reading this fantastically imagined, Regency whodunit series from the beginning. You would want to start with Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor. I’ve been a huge enthusiast of this series from the beginning as a fan of both Jane Austen and mysteries!
It’s 1811 in London and Jane Austen is enjoying a month-long visit with her brother Henry and his lively wife Eliza. She’s awaiting publication of her first novel, Sense and Sensibility and spending her free time socializing during the height of the Season.
When a mysterious, exiled, lovely Russian princess is found dead outside of the abode of a notorious Tory minister, though – even Jane is surprised. The determination of self-murder does not sit right with Jane, and she is happy to investigate further.
What is more surprising, however, is that Jane and Eliza manage to thrust themselves into the case – as suspects! Now Jane must solve the mystery not just for her own curiosity and sense of justice, but to keep herself and Eliza from the noose!
It’s been years since I’ve read the first eight books and had hoped to be able to reread the series before I continued on – but I think many busy bibliophiles can agree that this can be a difficult thing to do. So, I finally gave in and read Jane and the Barque of Frailty. Happily, my faint memory of the previous books was sufficient.
I was very quickly pulled back into Jane’s smart first-person narration and observations while following the suspense of murder amidst the polite crowd. Yet again we have an intricate mystery with lovely period details.
Stephanie Barron is a stickler – she follows Jane’s locales based on the remaining letters from Austen’s life. We are often exactly where she was in her real life, at the right time. She also takes hints from the letters, or perhaps rumors of the day, and interweaves them into the fictional aspect of the story. You feel almost as though this could all be possible!
A strong, enjoyable story with serious, dramatic elements and plenty of Austen wit, Jane and the Barque of Frailty was a great mystery that left me prepared for reading more. There are now a total of twelve books in this series and I am on to book ten!