Jane and the Canterbury Tale by Stephanie Barron

I’m a Jane-ite. (For those of you who require translation, Janeite’s read and enjoy Jane Austen novels over and over again, read her letters, read books about her writings, her life and her times, and soak up every other bit of trivia that can be linked to her. We watch movies based on her stories, read novels by other authors who use her characters, or who modernise her stories and so on and on and on). As Jane Austen might say, “It is a truth universally acknowledged” that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Some of the books inspired by Jane Austen’s novels are dreadful. Some have zombies. Some have racy scenes that make me cringe with embarrassment (Jane Austen knew that some things are better left to the imagination). It is the same with the movies and television productions based on Jane Austen’s works, some are disappointing and some are wonderful (in my opinion the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Jennife Ehle and Colin Firth falls under the particularly wonderful banner).

Jane and the Canterbury Tale by Stephanie Barron, falls under the wonderful banner also.

The book is written as if Jane Austen herself is narrating the story, which is a murder mystery that she finds herself involved in while visiting with her brother, Edward Knight.

The characters in Jane and the Canterbury Tale are as familiar as if they have stepped out of a Jane Austen novel themselves, while others characters are based on her family and members of her community. The references to actual events and family members delighted me. One especially funny conversation has the character, Jane Austen, discussing her novel Pride and Prejudice with a disapproving reader, who was unaware she was the author. The wit in Jane and the Canterbury Tale is as enjoyable as in any of Jane Austen’s novels.

To be honest, murder mysteries aren’t really my thing, but Stephanie Barron’s character of Jane Austen was so believable that I didn’t care. I had a feeling about who the murderer was from the beginning, which turned out to be correct, and that didn’t bother me either. The story of the murder and the subsequent sleuthing was enjoyable, but the absolute delight in this book came from reading about Jane Austen and her family and where they lived and what they did and said and felt.

Reading Jane and the Canterbury Tale by Stephanie Barron made me really happy. Knowing that Stephanie Barron has written another ten novels in the voice of Jane Austen makes me even happier.

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