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Last week, I reviewed the Jodie Whittaker episodes of Doctor Who, including how they inspired my #BriFri posts for the rest of October.
Book: Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication date: 2022
Source: e-book borrowed from library
Summary: Jane and the Year Without a Summer is Book 14 in the Jane Austen mystery series by Stephanie Barron. This book purports to be a diary of Jane Austen’s visit to Cheltenham Spa with her sister Cassandra in 1816.
Jane is ill and hopes that the waters of Cheltenham will provide a cure. The water tastes horrible, and the weather is worse.
Fortunately, Jane stays at a boarding house which provides a cast of eccentric characters from Mr. Garthwaite who demands repentance from everyone he meets to the delicately beautiful Miss Williams who is pushed around in a wheelchair by her plain companion, Miss Fox.
Thoughts: An episode of Doctor Who inspired me to explore the Year Without a Summer. Doctor Who introduced us to one of the most famous literary events of 1816 — Mary Shelley’s stormy visit to Lake Geneva where she conceived of the story of Frankenstein.
I tend to forget that Jane Austen and Mary Shelley were contemporaries.
Jane and the Year Without a Summer begins in Chawton where Jane lived quietly with her mother and sister. The first three chapters catch us up on the goings-on of Jane’s family. I’m no expert on Jane Austen’s biography, but the parts I do know chimed with what I learned here.
Then, we’re off on our adventure.
I enjoyed that the story provided a good understanding of Cheltenham Spa and what it was like to be there in 1816.
I don’t usually read series out of order. But I was intrigued by Jane Austen’s experience of the Year Without a Summer enough to pick up this book, even though it was the 14th in the series. I had no trouble jumping into the series this late, since I’m familiar, in broad strokes, with the story of Jane Austen’s life.
As it turns out, it’s the penultimate book. Book 15 is expected to be released this fall. It will be set in 1817, the year of Jane Austen’s death.
Appeal: Jane and the Year Without a Summer pleased me for its well-researched historical setting. The mystery starts quite late in the book, after we’ve been introduced to all the relevant characters. That worked for me. I’m not a big mystery reader, so I don’t know how common that is.
I enjoyed this enough to want to start the series with Book 1, Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor.
Have you read this book? What did you think?