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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where to wander after Austen and Heyer?

Herewith some suggestions from Michelle Kerns of

If those don't max out your Austen-ish addiction, there are handy reviews of Austen take-offs (mostly of 'Pride & Prejudice') on Austenesque

Neither site mentions Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen Mysteries, which I am re-reading now in order after a few random dips over the past decade. The first book, 'Scargrave Manor,' was a bit studied, the writing somewhat stilted. The second book in the series, 'The Man of the Cloth', has a wonderful Austen-esque voice along with a creeping sense of mystery. While I still find the footnotes a distraction - they tempt me all the way down the page and interfere with my immersion in the fictive dream - the language and subtle homages to well-loved Austen characters are more than equal to the challenge of restoring my story-trance.

'Jane and the Man of the Cloth' is set in a lovely seaside village. The inhabitants are as cloistered and their lives as intertwined as any in an Austen novel, with the addition of murder and other crimes implied or actual. For those of us who spent part of childhood in smugglers' tunnels with the adventurous hero of Moonfleet and the children of Enid Blyton's novels, there's even a scene in a dank, dark, seaweedy seashore cavern and tunnel leading to... but that would be telling.

And yes, I did spend another four hours Lost in Austenprose last night. How could you tell?

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