Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Review: Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron

Title Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being A Jane Austen Mystery
Author Stephanie Barron
Rating ****1/2
Tags mystery, series, jane austen, byron, brighton 

This is the tenth volume in Barron's series with Jane Austen as the narrator and sleuth. Jane's brother Henry has just lost his beloved wife Eliza. Jane suggests he visit one of the coastal towns as a balm to blunt the edge of his grief. He decides to go to Brighton if Jane will go with him. She had thought one of the quieter towns like Lyme, but sees that Brighton, made fashionable by the Prince Regent, would better suit Henry's disposition. On the way to Brighton, they find a young lady bound and gagged in a carriage who has been abducted by George Gordon, Lord Byron. They rescue her and return her to her unpleasant father, and Jane gets to know the girl somewhat better in Brighton. So when the girl's body is found sewn into a sail from Byron's boat and dumped into Byron's bed, she feels compelled to find the killer. Is it Byron, so prone to passion? Is it Lady Caroline Lamb, whose passion for Byron is more inflamed the more he spurns her?

This book is one of the best in a good series. In a sense, it does a violence to history, as the real Jane Austen would have never, could have never, been involved in such things. Yet it works because the reader believes that the author has captured the essence of Austen's character. She makes one understand Byron's magnetism, even though one feels Austen and Byron did not have much in common and would not have liked each other. Caro Lamb also comes to life, a creature about whom the term "drama queen" might have been invented. Highly recommended.

Publication Bantam (2010), Paperback, 352 pages
Publication date 2010
ISBN 0553386700 / 9780553386707

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