After eight tries, I finally finished The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen without interruption from other projects. I loved it! Even though I’ve heard Jane Austen’s life story many times, I found this work of fiction by Austen scholar Syrie James to be authentic and fun. She assumes Jane’s novel-writing voice extremely well. I hope that most readers also feel for the characters and their challenges–hoping for the best, even though we may already know how it will all turn out. James’ imagination is charming and respectful as she re-creates how Austen told her stories and wrote them down–either hiding them or sharing their progress with family and friends. The story also makes you realize how restricted women’s lives were at the time. At least in modern the situation has improved in many places in the world. From the look of her website, Syrie James’ other works seem like worthwhile reads.
Not since P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley–now a PBS movie–have I enjoyed a book based on Austen’s work more. So much is out there in books, television, and film. Most are very good; others, not so much.
Even though many authors are inspired by Austen, please take time to read or reread her six novels. Also, this full website, Austen.com, offers excellent historical resources. Also have a look at the Jane Austen Society of North America.