Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 5, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Inspired by Actual Events. Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention. Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?"Jane Austen is a precocious fifteen year old and a very talented writer, but just like any fifteen year old, she wants to meet someone special. The one problem is that her mother won't let her "come out" for a few more years, which really limits the possibility of meeting a young gentleman. That is until her older brother, Edward, becomes engaged to marry a wealthy young woman from Kent named Elizabeth Bridges. You see, Edward, although an Austen, isn't part of a their class; in fact, he is well-off and has been "adopted" by a wealthy relative and set to inherit a fortune. When the Austen family goes to Edward's engagement celebration, which spans many weeks, Jane meets Edward Taylor whom she is not only impressed by, but she can't stop thinking about him. While visiting the Bridges, Jane tries her hand at matchmaking as well and all the while trying to catch Edward Taylor's eye. But can someone as wealthy and worldly as Edward fall for someone as common as Jane? Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James is a quiet, but delightful read about young Jane Austen and her first love. Fans of Jane Austen will be charmed by this adorable read.
I immediately liked young Jane in Jane Austen's First Love. She reminded me a bit of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice in that she was smart, outspoken, daring, and was looking for real love. She didn't have a problem speaking her mind and had lofty goals to become a writer, although she doubted her talents. Jane, while at Kent, tried her hand at matchmaking, which reminded me so much of Emma Woodhouse from Emma. This whole matchmaking debacle brought a smile to my face, because Austen fans know how that will turn out. Jane's relationship with her sister, Cassandra, was also heartwarming and made me think of Elizabeth and Jane from Pride and Prejudice. Needless to say, fans of Austen will be able to make many connections to various characters and situations from the classic novels and I very much enjoyed being able to do that.
Her love interest, Edward Taylor, is a captivating character in Jane Austen's First Love. I liked how well spoken, well traveled, and all-around talented young man he was. I could see why she was enamored with him and wouldn't expect anything less for Jane Austen. All the while, she was wondering if he would ever "settle" for someone like her; after all, he is well-off and she doesn't have much money to offer for a dowry. Plus, there's another young girl (who is wealthy!) and has her eye on Edward. Nonetheless, I was rooting for Jane and Edward from the get-go.
One aspect of Jane Austen's First Love that I struggled with was its pace. At times it was slow moving, which, I suppose, happens when it comes to the time period. James focused on various frivolous things that modern people might struggle with. What can I say? The lifestyle of Austen's time was slow and overly formal at times. I mean it must be nice to dedicate two/three weeks to an engagement celebration!
However, being the Jane Austen fan that I am, I was glad to get over some of the slower parts and enjoy this story of young Jane. After all, Jane Austen's First Love is based on real events and I wanted SO badly for Jane to get her happy ending. But we all know she died at a young age and as a single woman. Oh, how I wish it were different, but at least we will always have Mr. Darcy. So, if you are a fan of all things Austen, definitely check out this book to get a glimpse into young Jane's life.