Being the First of the Jane Austen Mysteries

Oh Stephanie Barron, why did you do this to me? Never have I read a book as monotonous and gripping as Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor. I started this book at the end of the school year and came back to it this summer to finish it. It started so slow that I despaired of ever finishing, and I think I understood what so many people must feel when they read Austen for the first time. It wasn’t until I was past half-way that I found it interesting.

The only interesting character that I found in the whole of the book was Lord Harold Trowbridge. He is a scoundrel and a rogue and a spy in His Majesty’s service. Which is highly improbable. But he was marvelous and mysterious. It was for his character that I continued reading.

Despite the wearisome diction of the novel, the plot hooked me. After Lord Scargrave’s mysterious death, Jane looks into the circumstances, suspecting murder. Her relationship to Scargrave’s new wife allows her to stick her nose in and to comfort where needed. She deals with several familiar looking people: Fitzroy Payne (aka Fitzwilliam Darcy), Lieutenant Hearst (aka Mr. Wickham), Mr. George Hearst (aka Mr. Collins? The likeness is a bit of stretch), Miss Delhoussaye (aka Lydia Bennet), there’s also an evil aunt and Sir William, the magistrate. There was forbidden love between Jane’s friend Isobel and Fitzroy. There were suicides and bastard children. However, most of that happened in the second half of the book. The first half was tedium.

In spite of all odds I’m looking for the second book with the hopes that Jane and the Man of the Cloth will be slightly more interesting.


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