Jane Austen’s First Love: Review and Giveaway

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James 2014 x 350In a letter to her sister Cassandra in 1796, Jane Austen wrote, “We went by Bifrons and I contemplated with a melancholy pleasure the abode of Him, on whom I once fondly doated.”

Who was this mysterious man? This question intrigued Syrie James, author of Jane Austen’s First Love. For the first time, thanks to Syrie James’s research, Jane Austen fans are treated to a glimpse of Jane Austen as a teenager experiencing all the pangs of first love.

The novel begins with a family trip to Kent. Jane, Cassandra, and their mother are invited to summer festivities in celebration of Jane’s eldest brother Edward Austen’s engagement to Elizabeth Bridges. The Bridges family is also celebrating their daughter Fanny’s engagement to Lewis Cage. On the way to the Bridges home at Goodnestone Park, Jane and Cassandra’s carriage suffers a mishap, and they are rescued by the Bridgeses’ neighbor Edward Taylor, a distant relation of the Bridges family.

Over the course of the festivities at Goodnestone Park, in which Jane convinces her reluctant mother to allow her to participate, Jane grows closer to Edward Taylor. He brings out her adventurous side, and she is captivated by his interesting life. Jane also decides perhaps mounting a theatrical of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be the perfect way to play matchmaker for the Bridges girls.

Edward Taylor comes alive in the pages of this book—is it possible he inspired some of Jane Austen’s most memorable characters? He reminded me a bit more of George Wickham and John Willoughby than Austen heroes such as Fitzwilliam Darcy and George Knightley. He is not nearly as much of a rake as Wickham and Willoughby, but he flouts convention and is a bit on the reckless side.

Jane Austen fans will enjoy the image of her portraying Puck in the theatrical as well as the casual allusions to Austen’s own works. Certainly aspects of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park can be glimpsed in Jane’s experiences at Goodnestone Park.

Syrie James headshot 2012 x 250About the Author

Syrie James, hailed as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings” by Los Angeles Magazine, is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels that have been translated into 18 languages. Her books have been awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Discover Great New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine. Syrie is the author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane AustenThe Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, and Dracula, My Love, among other popular novels Syrie is a member of the WGA and lives in Los Angeles. Please visit her at syriejames.com, Facebook or say hello on Twitter @SyrieJames.

Giveaway Details

JAFL Grand Prize x 420Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages

To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen’s First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour.

Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie’s unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!

Be sure to check out Syrie James’s guest posts and other reviews in the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Book Tour.

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31 thoughts on “Jane Austen’s First Love: Review and Giveaway

  1. Jane as Puck cracks me up….and also makes me wonder about the Mansfield Park connection. Hrmmm….thanks for the overview of the book!

    • Thanks for your comment, Beth. It was such fun to write all the scenes about putting on the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in Jane Austen’s First Love. Jane was, I’m sure, a marvelous actress–her family always said she was terrific at reading her novels aloud, doing all the different voices, etc– and she loved putting on plays with her family at Steventon.

  2. I enjoyed your lovely review of Jane Austen’s First Love. This book is at the top of my Wish List. 🙂

    • Jane’s letters make for great reading–what an insight into her true character! Thanks for commenting. I hope you love Jane Austen’s First Love!

  3. Edward was her knight in shining armour.A handsome one at that! No wonder she fell in love!Thank you for the giveaway.

  4. What an interesting detail about Jane Austen playing Puck in the theatrical. This sounds like a wonderful read!

  5. Yay, another look at one of my favorite authors. I look forward to reading this immensely.

    • I’d love to know which of my other books you’ve read, Jessica. Thanks for commenting. I had a great time writing Jane Austen’s First Love and hope you love it!

      • Hi Jenny, and thanks for your comment! I wouldn’t want to give anything away with regards to Edward Taylor, or what happens between him and Jane Austen. (The fun is reading the book to find out!) He is definitely not a cad. Did he have flaws? Yes. Don’t we all?

        I will say that I totally understand why Jane Austen fell in love with him. When the first of Jane’s preserved letters mentions him as someone upon whom she once “fondly doated,” some years had already gone by. She mentions him again four years after that, as having “beautiful dark eyes.” I think Jane never quite got over her feelings for Edward Taylor.

        I tried to portray him as a complex and dashing but very real human being, who–although not perfect–was quite extraordinary. In my novel, he brings out a side to Jane that she didn’t know existed. It’s possible that some of his personal qualities inspired aspects of both her heroes and her “rogues” (like Willoughby and Frank Churchill) (as opposed to her cads.)

        I look forward to hearing what you think, Jenny, after you read Jane Austen’s First Love!

  6. So excited about another book from Syrie James – can’t wait to read it over the holidays. And would love to win this giveaway! Such a fun collection of items.

  7. Dana, thank you so much for your review, and for hosting this stop on the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour! I am so grateful for your support.

    Wishing you and everyone a wonderful holiday season, and happy reading!

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