The taste of books (Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron)

It is an entertaining read, and the second (middle) part of the book is really exciting, but sometimes Barron tries too hard to imitate the style of Jane Austen, and though the words like ‘probity’, ‘perspicacity’, ‘equanimity’ are truly words of the early nineteenth century fiction discourse, their usage in the Barons novel is a bit too far-fetched, repetitive and slightly artificial.
If anyone is looking at Barron’s books as a wonderful example of stylization, my advice is to look elsewhere. No one, and I sincerely mean it, no one and nothing can be compared to the stylized gems of Virginia Whoolf and John Fowles in their books ‘Orlando’ and ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ respectively.
Actually, the culprit behind all the crimes was obvious to me right in the middle of the book, and I think it is actually its drawback. On the other hand, the book is full of merits, some of them are the insights into the lives of unmarried middle-class spinsters, the particularities of English entails and inheritance laws, and even the type of fabric women used to wear in Austen’s time. Many of those cultural lacunae are deftly and neatly explained with the help of the footnotes, and I consider the way they are written and the way they are introduced the hidden gem of the book.
The end is slightly disappointing, especially when a reader is informed about the sudden ‘elopement’ of Fanny and Mr. Cranley. Otherwise, I think it is a quick and entertaining read with some educational features.


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Filed under Book Review, Historical Mystery

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