Synopses & Reviews
It's with a heavy heart that Jane Austen takes up a new residence at Chawton Cottage in Hampshire. Secretly mourning the lost love of her life, she's stunned to learn that the late Lord Harold Trowbridge has made her heir to an extraordinary bequest: a Bengal chest filled with his diaries, letters, and most intimate correspondence. From these, Jane is expected to write a memoir of the Gentleman Rogue for posterity. But before she can put pen to paper on this labor of love, she discovers a corpse in the cellar of her new home.
The dead man was a common laborer, and a subsequent coroner's examination shows he was murdered elsewhere and transported to Chawton Cottage. Suddenly Jane and her family are thrust into the center of a brewing scandal in this provincial village that doesn't take kindly to outsiders in general—and to Austens in particular.
And just as Jane glimpses a connection between the murder and the shattering truth concealed somewhere in Lord Harold's papers, violent death strikes yet another unsuspecting vicitim. Suddenly there are suspects and motives everywhere Jane looks—local burglaries, thwarted passions, would-be knights, and members of the royal family itself who want Lord Harold hushed . . . even in death. As the tale of one man's illustrious life unfolds—a life that runs a parallel course to the history of two continents—Jane races against time to catch a cunning killer before more innocent lives are taken. But her determination to protect Lord Harold's legacy could exact the costliest price of all: her own life.
Jane and His Lordship's Legacy is historical suspense writing at its very finest, graced with insight, perception, and uncommon intelligence of its singular heroine in a mystery that will test the mettle of her mind and heart.
About the Author
Stephanie Barron, a lifelong admirer of Jane Austen's work, is the author of seven previous Jane Austen mysteries. As Francine Mathews, she is the author of The Cutout
and The Secret Agent
. She lives near Denver, Colorado, where she is at work on the ninth Jane Austen mystery, Jane and the Barque of Frailty
From the Hardcover edition.
Reading Group Guide
1. Jane Austen was born in 1775, on the eve of Englands war with the American colonies, and died in 1817, two years after Napoleons defeat at Waterloo. Her life was in many ways defined by warfare. How might this have shaped Austens attitudes toward men? Toward womens traditional roles?
2. In Barrons novels, Jane Austen is regarded as a gentlewoman-a person of good birth and social standing-who unfortunately has no money. Her desire to write novels is partly motivated by a desire for financial independence and a life beyond the narrow domestic roles accorded to women in her day. Is this struggle different today?
3. The fictional Jane of this mystery series walks a fine line between knowledge of the broader world and its evils-murder, adultery, jealous, scheming, avarice, political treason-and a sharp awareness that a lady of her period was expected to know nothing of any of them. Is Jane a hypocrite? Is she unusual in her knowledge of the world? How does her compromise between experience and the limits of social convention surface in her fiction?
4. Lord Harold Trowbridge holds an immense attraction for Jane in these novels. What does he represent in her life-the desire for power? For deep emotional and physical experience? The desire to save him from himself? Or merely Janes yearning to be known for who she truly is? Is Jane more honest with Lord Harold that with others in her life?
5. Jane lavishes affection on her elder sister Cassandra. Is Cassandra worthy of it?
6. Janes involvement in the lives of others suggests the possibility that she a) an insufferable busybody; b) has too much time on her hands; or c) is extraordinarily perceptive about human nature-which allows her to map the motivations behind (occasionally criminal) actions. Discuss. Is Jane a perceptive person? Is this evident in her novels as well as her detective adventures?
7. In an era when women were expected to marry and have children, Jane did neither-publishing books instead. Was she a rebel? How did she make the best of a social fate she neither chose nor controlled? Which qualities make it more or less likely that she would enjoy the challenges of amateur detective?
8. Janes fictional women usually triumph by the power of their wits and the energy of their actions. Does this reflect Janes real life? Is it a hopeful view of existence? Do you think Jane was a content person? An ambitious one? A wise woman or a blind one?
The Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron place a beloved nineteenth-century author in an unfamiliar role: that of amateur detective. The series follows Austens life from the age of 26, in 1802, up to the year of her first novels publication in 1811. The questions offered below are intended to spark conversations among interested readers.