Published by AuthorHouse on June 24th 2015
Buy on Amazon
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen reimagines the life of England's most famous female author by asking: How would her life have changed if she had married and had a child? How would this thinking woman, and sensitive soul, have responded not to a ballroom flirtation but to a real relationship that developed over time? How would shouldering the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood have changed her as a person and a writer?
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is the only Austen—themed novel that delves deeply into the psyche of a woman falling in love—and the only novel to address what marriage in the early 1800s would have been like for a woman of intelligence and passion.
Using the Austen oeuvre as a foundation, this book takes the heroine out of her safe country villages and tosses her into a world that is far more complex and exciting. As the story develops, the protagonist becomes engaged in matters such as the slave trade; the advances that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution; the growing conflicts between science and religion; the antagonism between aristocrats and the rising mercantile class; and the horrifying impacts of the never—ending war with France on English citizens.
And all the while, she falls ever more in love with the man who introduces her to this bigger and more dangerous world. Being a courtship novel, Volume I concludes with a happy ending; but it goes beyond a comedy of manners to touch deep, honest feelings between a woman and man.
Volume I of The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen sets up the complexity and contradictions of marriage that are addressed in the following volumes: the richness of a requited love set against the often cruel realities of life in the Regency age—for husband as well as wife.
How would Jane Austen’s life have unfolded if she had been able to marry for love?
Source: I was given an eARC of this book from the author for a fair and honest review.
This week is the release of the second book in Collins Hemingway’s trilogy, titled, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen and I was delighted to be invited to take part in his blog tour for this upcoming book. We will start here at Just Jane 1813, from the very beginning of his trilogy, with a review and a giveaway for his first book, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume 1.
“A woman is not to marry because she is asked, or because…(he) can write a tolerable letter.” Jane Austen
Be not alarmed, dear readers, that you can’t enjoy a book that takes such great liberties with Jane Austen’s own life! After all, it is a work of fiction. Yet, Mr. Hemingway’s story certainly does paint a compelling picture of what Jane’s life may have been had she herself been able to marry for love.
Jane’s story here unfolds as she has reached near-spinsterhood at the ripe old age of six and twenty. As a woman who loves to dance, socialize with friends and spend time with her sister Cassandra, Jane is every bit the woman we have come to know from the various scholars who have studied her life. As she is attending a ball in Bath, she reconnects with Ashton Dennis, who is five years her junior and is also the brother of Alethea, one of Jane’s dearest friends.
Still displaying himself as a clumsy and awkward “bull in a china shop,” Jane dismisses him as the selfish, smug, and impulsive man she has known for many years through the close association of their families. The Austen family, who have a greater endowment of connections than money, are the antithesis of the newly rich Dennis family, who have earned a considerable amount of wealth through trade and whose matriarch is looking to establish them as a reigning family in England. Their disparate circumstances cause Jane and Ashton to often be at odds with each other. Why should Jane really mind what Ashton thinks about her since she has so firmly established herself against him?
Life for the Austen family takes an array of twists and turns, as their genteel poverty makes them beholden to family and friends who may or may not decide to bestow their benevolence upon them. Thus, Jane and Cassandra find themselves sent off visiting various relatives and acquaintances all over southern England, in an attempt to also help find them suitable matches. As neither sister is willing to settle for anything less than a marriage built upon shared love and respect, it becomes harder and harder to imagine them meeting success in the marriage market.
Through the efforts and generosity of their brothers, the Austen ladies are provided with a very modest yearly stipend of approximately 500 pounds after the death of their beloved father. Yet, war with France has left many of their lives hanging in the balance, as uncertainty becomes a daily reminder of how fragile life really can be for young men and women alike. Can the events of war and the space of years set into motion the possibility that Jane can marry for love after all?
I really don’t want to give any details away about Jane’s fictional romance because those are the delicious surprises that readers deserve to uncover for themselves. What I will gladly share is that Mr. Hemingway has reimagined a love life for Jane Austen within the historical accuracies uncovered in her numerous biographies that will make anyone who ardently admires and loves Jane Austen feel like they’ve been given a beautifully constructed alternate path for her life. Even the letters exchanged between the characters in this story conveyed a closeness between the characters that made me feel like I was privy to some of their most personal thoughts and feelings.
A good writer can help a reader become nearly one with a well-written story. It’s truly a credit to Mr. Hemingway’s writing and research skills that he’s been able to sketch a story that reads with a very authentic voice that resonates with what we know about Austen’s own life and her personal preferences. Spending time with Jane and Cassandra in this story is a truly memorable time for Austen fans, as Hemingway’s dialogues convey the nuances and subtleties that one can imagine existing between these two sisters who shared a very close bond. Their relationship is a large focus of this book and proves to be an amusing and lively aspect of this story. I also think fans of Pride and Prejudice will see some similarities here between Mr. Hemingway’s and Ms. Austen’s characters and storylines; while it’s clear he has borrowed some of these from her own classic, Mr. Hemingway inserts them into his own story with some very clever and heartfelt results.
Even though the book doesn’t conclude with any cliffhangers, readers will be eager to pick up the next volume in Jane’s life, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume 2, which is being released on September 10, 2016 and cheer for her happiness as both a reader and as someone who will feel as though he/she is now on more intimate terms with our highly esteemed authoress.
Mr. Hemingway has generously offered a giveaway of an ebook of, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume 1, for my Just Jane 1813 readers. Please leave a comment on this blog and let us know your thoughts about this story, no later than midnight, ET, on September 14. The winner will be announced on this blog on September 15, 2016.
I can’t wait to see what my readers think of Jane getting her own chance at marriage!