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Publisher's Summary

Charlie Lovett first delighted listeners with his New York Times best-selling debut, The Bookman's Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature's most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.
Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice - and ultimately threaten Sophie's life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie's quest to uncover the truth - while choosing between two suitors - and a young Jane Austen's touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
©2014 Penguin Group (P)2014 Charlie Lovett
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By lyl on 01-21-15

A booklovers book

Translation of my title: if you love everything about reading about people who love books, physically and mentally, you will love this book. If you love Jane Austin you will not be able to put it down.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Maine Colonial 🌲 on 01-11-17

One story thread is much better than the other

I have mixed feelings about this book. I've enjoyed Charlie Lovett's books before, and his specialty is dual-narrative literary mysteries, so I figured another one would be a good bet.

The older narrative involves Jane Austen and imagines a story about her inspiration to write Pride & Prejudice––or, as it was originally titled, First Impressions. The contemporary story features a young woman named Sophie, a bibliophile with a particular interest in Jane Austen.

Sophie's love of books came about through her relationship with her favorite uncle, Bertram, who lives in London's Maida Vale in a flat filled with his book treasures, most hunted down in old book shops, but a precious shelf coming from an annual choice out of his family's ancestral home.

As a result of a series of shocking events, Sophie pursues an investigation into the history of Pride & Prejudice and its possible relationship with a book written by a clergyman–––a book that two mysterious men have commissioned her to find. In her investigation, she also hopes to involve mysteries involving Uncle Bertram and his library.

As in other Lovett novels, the contemporary story includes a romance element. Those familiar with Jane Austen will note certain resemblances between Sophie's love life and some Austen romances. This is not necessarily a positive for a mystery, since it makes it only too obvious how that plot will play out. Another problem with the contemporary plot thread is that Lovett has Sophie make some stunningly dumb decisions that needlessly put her in danger. I hate it when writers do that.

The Jane Austen plot is more appealing, though it's not very lively if that's what a reader is interested in.

Jayne Entwistle chooses a too-cute voice for the tone of the novel. I've heard her normal speaking voice, which would have been better. Instead, she goes up into a more soprano level and puts an overdone laughing tone into her reading. It isn't terrible, but it is a little bit grating.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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