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The Stunning Finale to Jane Austen's Saga
In the moving conclusion to "The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen," Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends, and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.
“It was the marriage that was important; Jane Austen rarely even bothered to write about the wedding.” Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club
While it certainly took me a while to read stories featuring Jane Austen as a fictional character, reading Collins Hemingway’s series, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volumes I, II & III, helped me discover a whole new way to indulge my Jane Austen addiction!
I read and reviewed Volumes I and II last year and this third and final book in Collins Hemingway’s trilogy picks up right where his last book left off and delves right into Jane’s and Ashton’s early experiences as parents to young George Dennis. As they struggle now to spend time sharing the interests that initially brought them together, Jane and Ashton find that parenthood has left them somewhat out of sync with one another. Unwilling to let go of any of her duties, which now include the care and feeding of their son, Jane struggles to find that elusive balance between the multiple roles demanding of her time. I’m sure this sounds familiar to many of my readers, and as a working mother of four children, I could easily empathize with Jane’s desires to make everyone around her happy at the expense of pursuing the passion she has for writing stories.
Yet her lack of writing time isn’t the main thing occupying her mind. It’s the concern that her son isn’t thriving the way that he should be. But how can she be certain her doubts aren’t due to her inexperience as a mother? As the Dennises try to discern the true nature of these concerns, tensions continue to mount between them. When a family secret is unexpectedly revealed, the trust between Ashton and Jane is severely damaged. Can their marriage withstand this revelation as they focus on trying to keep their son happy and healthy?
Their fictional story unfolds within actual events from the Austen family’s lives and this blending of fact and fiction made me enjoy this story even more. As a reader, I felt privy to some of the most private moments between the Austen sisters, even though I know this is a work of fiction. However, the way that Mr. Hemingway tells his story by weaving his narrative and his epistolary writings together allows the reader to feel deeply connected to his characters while also being able to take a more distant and more neutral perspective when the story shifts back to the perspective of a third person. I thought he did a great job combining these different types of writing into a gripping, emotive, and cohesive story.
Knowing the eventual fate of Miss Austen doesn’t take away from this being an engrossing story filled with unanticipated plot twists. Due to its fictional nature, there are plenty of creative measures taken with the storylines throughout this book, while the focus remains upon Jane’s marriage to Ashton Dennis and the consequences that result from their relationship. I loved how the Dennises still remained focused on some of the crucial social and economic issues of their time and how the events of the war with France played into their lives.
Readers can easily connect with the character of Jane Austen that has been sketched throughout these pages, as her character adheres closely to the information we have about her through the various letters and other historical documents uncovered about her throughout the past several decades. While no one can predict how marriage may have shaped Jane Austen’s life and persona, I find it reasonable to believe she would have loved and married a man similar to Ashton Dennis’ character and disposition. Ashton Dennis is a man that I grew to love throughout this series. While he’s quite different in many ways when compared to Austen’s heroes, for me he’s the epitome of a well-bred English gentleman. Strong-willed, intellectually curious, impulsive, and kind, Ashton’s character arc is as intriguing as Jane’s throughout the series. I adored them together and wished in some ways that Jane Austen would have known the love and respect of a man just like Ashton Dennis in her own life.
Collins Hemingway gave me a bit of a “warning” before I read this story in that I should expect a story that strives to serve as a “conclusion that tests Jane’s courage and moral convictions.” These tests come at an expense for his characters and demonstrate how while some things have significantly changed over the past two centuries, many of the struggles that people faced during Jane’s lifetime are also well known to men and women living today. Although we know how Jane Austen’s own life ended tragically over 200 years ago, I can easily imagine readers finding themselves spending many pleasurable hours losing themselves in a story that offers Miss Austen other possibilities for her own story.
I know a book has done a great job when I have to remind myself that the events within the pages didn’t actually take place and throughout this series, I had to give myself several of these little reality checks. Thank you, Collins Hemingway, for writing this beautifully crafted trilogy for Janeites to savor!
I’d also like to thank Collins Hemingway for the eARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Head over to the cover reveal that I hosted two weeks ago if you want to enter the giveaway for this eBook, which ends tomorrow.
Meet Collins Hemingway
Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. Hemingway’s fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.
For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives, to creatively investigate everything that makes them what they are as complete but fallible human beings.
His approach is to dive as deeply into a character’s heart and soul as possible, to address the root causes of their behavior rather than to describe superficial attitudes and beliefs. This treatment, he believes, is at the heart of all good fiction, for it provides the only way to draw a complete, complex portrait of a human being that is rewarding to readers. You can also visit him at Austen Authors.
This book is available for preorder at Amazon and will be released on Nov. 30th.
This book will also be available on KindleUnlimited.