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Jane and the Barque of Frailty (Jane Austen Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – October 30, 2007

26 customer reviews
Book 9 of 11 in the Jane Austen Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in the spring of 1811, Barron's ninth Jane Austen mystery (after 2005's Jane and His Lordship's Legacy) finds both detective and author in sparkling form. Jane is at the London theater during a visit to her brother Henry when she glimpses a Russian princess gazing intently at the box of prominent politician Lord Castlereagh. That night, the princess is found dead outside Castlereagh's home. Unconvinced by the appearance of suicide, Jane begins inquiries that eventually encompass high society and their servants, politicians of every stripe and even courtesans. When a chance act brings Jane a threatening visit from the Bow Street Runners, her search for the truth intensifies still further. The book's intricate plotting is satisfying right to the last revelation, and the variety of secondary characters depicted with affectionate irony adds humor and historical depth. Like Regency great Georgette Heyer, the author excels at both period detail and modern verve. Aping Austen's cool, precise and very famous voice is a hard trick to pull off, but Barron manages it with aplomb. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

She penned insightful prose about prejudice and pride, but how would nineteenth-century novelist Jane Austen have fared as a sleuth? Fairly well, if Barron's popular series is any indication. In this ninth entry, 35-year-old Jane travels to London, where she oversees the printing of her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, and spends time among the city's high-society set, including her brother, Henry, and his wife, Eliza. As the novel opens, the elite crowd is rattled over the suspicious death of Russian princess Evgenia Tscholikova, whose body was found on the doorstep of a former Tory minister. Through a somewhat convoluted turn of events, Jane and her sister-in-law find themselves in possession of jewels belonging to the late Slavic beauty. They have seven days to prove their innocence before being hanged for their crimes. "Barques of Frailty" is one of the many monikers for courtesans of the era, who used their beauty and charm to manipulate powerful men. While Austen fans will enjoy Barron's period detail and series devotees won't want to miss the latest, Barron's voluminous descriptions come at the expense of suspense. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jane Austen Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553584081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553584080
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Stephanie Barron is a graduate of Princeton and Stanford, where she studied history. She is perhaps best known for the critically-acclaimed Jane Austen Mystery Series, in which the intrepid and witty author of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE details her secret detective career in Regency England. JANE AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, the twelfth Austen mystery, is forthcoming from Soho October 28, 2014. A former intelligence analyst for the CIA, Stephanie--who also writes under the name Francine Mathews--drew on her experience in the field of espionage for such novels as JACK 1939, which The New Yorker described as "the most deliciously high-concept thriller imaginable." She lives and works in Denver, CO.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By EF on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm normally a huge fan of Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries, but I found this one to be a bit disappointing. In this novel, a Russian princess is found dead and Jane and her sister-in-law Eliza are accused of the murder. The man who accuses them (a Bow Street Runner) grants them a temporary reprieve and allows them a week to discover the real murderer. I found this to be a bit far-fetched, but I found Jane and Eliza's rather nonchalant attitude to their situation to be even more ridiculous.

However, the thing I found most disappointing about this book is how obvious the "guilty person" is. I figured it out very early on in the book, and thus I found Jane's investigation to be a bit boring.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By SDRTX on January 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love how Stephanie Barron captures the mood of 19th century England in her novels. I always feel like I've had a bit of a history lesson after reading the Jane Austen series esp since there are many interesting footnotes explaining some of the terms used. In the past I've almost felt overwhelmed in trying to keep up with the educational bent of the novels along with a complicated plot. The plot in this novel is a bit more straight forward and I found it an enjoyable read. I don't really look for character realism in historical novels. I think that would eliminate most of the women sleuths that populate many books in this genre. I can't really see the real Jane Austen as a sleuth, and this Jane Austen doesn't seem to do much writing, but I like that she has the real Jane Austen's family history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on August 14, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Overall, Stephanie Barron has done a masterful job of invoking Jane Austen and her world through her series of mysteries starring Austen as a sleuth. The ninth installment, "Jane and the Barque of Frailty" is one of the weaker stories within the series. While still a testament to Barron's ability to weave a fictional tale around real-life historical figures, it is too far-fetched by half, straining the credibility that has been a keystone in the other works.

"Jane and the Barque of Frailty" finds Jane in London, awaiting the anonymous publication of "Sense and Sensibility" while staying with her brother Henry and his wife Eliza. While well past her prime, Jane still enjoys the delights of the town in spring. But as usual, she finds a mystery to solve when a Russian princess is found dead, her throat slit, on the doorstep belonging to a prominent Tory minister. Days before, scandalous letters between the two were published in the papers, but the death is declared a suicide. Jane knows it to be murder, and that the man under suspicion is not the guilty party, but before she can prove this to be true, she finds herself embroiled in guilt with the case and her very life in danger.

As always, Stephanie Barron's depictions of Austen's world are near-flawless: her use of language of the period and physical descriptions seem effortless and she does greater justice to Austen's legacy than many others who have stood to profit from her works. However, the storyline for "Jane and the Barque of Frailty" seems rather outlandish at times: the events that lead to Jane and her sister-in-law being suspected of foul play is a stretch, as are some of the manuevers Jane uses to gain information to clear her name. Still, this ninth installment is an enjoyable read for fans of the series, even if it does not rank up there with earlier and better entries.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bookphile VINE VOICE on April 9, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I usually enjoy Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries but am finding that, as the series progresses, it seems to be losing something. Though Barron still has a gift for the period that makes the book sound like it could be told by Jane, I feel that this latest attempt is delving a bit into the realm of the Gothic, which I don't think is very much in keeping with Austen's personality.

The mystery itself isn't particularly well constructed. Jane and her sister-in-law Eliza are implicated in the death of a Russian princess and must work to clear their names. I didn't much buy this aspect of the book because the "motive" that was assigned to the two women was very flimsy. This, however, wasn't the part that bothered me the most. What did bother me the most were the things that Jane did in order to clear her name. To be specific about them would be to reveal something of the plot so I'll simply say that I didn't feel that the actions of the book Jane were in keeping with the character of the real Jane.

I also found Jane's attitude toward her manuscript in progress to be rather less than believable. Austen referred to her books as her children and while being accused of murder is certainly a reason to be distracted, I couldn't conceive that it would make Austen feel that absent about her manuscript. I also found it a shame that Barron didn't take more of an opportunity here to explore just how Jane must have felt on the eve of her first publication, of the hopes and fears she must have had.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nine Cats Corner on August 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stephanie Barron's "Jane and the Barque of Frailty" suffers without the tension provided by Lord Harold. Though this is now the second book since he was removed from the series, the last one, "Jane and His Lordship's Legacy", was much deeper, fuller fleshed and engrossing. The loss of his character is quite obvious in the London ton setting and the mystery seems improbable. Still I enjoy the cadence of Stephanie Barron's writing and her pictures of Regency England are descriptive. I look forward to a new "episode".
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