Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron-Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron
Stephanie Barron
Bantam, Sep 28 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780553386707

In 1813, Henry Austen’s wife Eliza dies after a lengthy illness. The Austen family grieves their loss but none besides Henry mourns the death of Eliza than Jane does; she was more a sister than an in-law.

Hoping to move on from Eliza’s death, Henry and Jane travel to Brighton where they believe the ocean will prove energizing. The siblings stop at an inn on their travel only to find the wrists of a teenage girl tied by a cravat in a nearby coach. A few days later in Brighton, that same female Catherine Twining is found dead in Lord Byron's bed at the King's Arms. Byron swears he is innocent in spite of his scandalous reputation. As she investigates, Jane finds the poet charming, but albeit a bit too insane for her tastes.

The latest Jane Austen amateur sleuth (see Jane and the Barque of Frailty) is a terrific tale as Stephanie Barron catches the essence of the heroine, Byron, and the era. The murder mystery is well written and very entertaining, but the fun in this strong entry is Byron who enchants everyone including Jane who knows better. In the seemingly overkilled Austen recast “sub-genre” this series remains one of more endearing.

Harriet Klausner

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