- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 2, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780062651259
- ISBN-13: 978-0062651259
- ASIN: 0062651250
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 159 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Jane Austen Project: A Novel Paperback – May 2, 2017
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"Flynn skillfully delves into the later years of Austen's life in a way that is sure to please admirers of the 19th-century novelist, as well as providing a fascinating dollop of plot invention and a heartbreaking romance between the two protagonists." Library Journal, Starred Review
"A creative and entertaining novel that addresses some interesting ideas while at the same time telling a cracking good story. " All About Romance
"This story had me spellbound from the first page." Austenesque Reviews
" It's a truth universally acknowledged that one novel couldn't possibly succeed as Austen pastiche, science fiction, romance, and satire all at once, but Flynn has achieved this feat, and has written an excessively diverting tale." Historical Novel Society
"Rachel's wry, observant narrative voice teaches readers the delights and hardships of life in 1815 with rich historical detail." Shelf Awareness
From the Back Cover
Two researchers from the future are sent back in time to meet Jane Austen and recover a suspected unpublished novel.
ENGLAND, 1815:Two travelers—Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane—arrive in a field, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. They are not what they seem, but colleagues from a technologically advanced future, posing as wealthy West Indies planters—a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren’t the first team from the future to “go back,” their mission is by far the most audacious: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen herself.
Carefully selected and rigorously trained by the Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common besides the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in—circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen’s circle via her favorite brother, Henry.
But diagnosing Jane’s fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the continuous convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile her true self with the constrictions of nineteenth-century society. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history intact and exactly as they found it . . . however heartbreaking that may prove.
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I often feel forced to choose between novels that are well-written, but filled with depressing themes and brutal realities, or trashy "beach" books that are insufferably bad. Remarkably, Flynn manages to avoid both these traps. The Jane Austen project combines all the literary rigor you'd expect from an author whose day job is editor at the New York Times, with all the fun of a novel that draws on the witty sensibility that has made Austen one of the most beloved novelists of all time.
It's actually hard to believe this is Flynn's first novel. I cannot wait to read her next.
Rachel or Mary, as she is known in the past, and William slide right into Jane Austen's world, becoming part of her society. The Austen's are delightful, portrayed as a loving and diverse family, with jealousies, in-fighting, and family secrets. Jane's calming influence, her keen intellect, her wit and warmth bring the same humor as her famous characters. I loved them all, from her charming brother, to the pompous Cassandra, vividly illustrated with depth. Flynn uses a deft hand restraining from depicting them as cartoonish.
This is a romance between Jane Austen and the reader. Rachel and Liam are bystanders pulled into her orbit, influenced by the woman and her world, proving love, as well as Jane Austen is timeless.
Two travelers from the near future (maybe the twenty-second century but not specified) are selected by a mysterious institute to time-travel to the year 1815. Their mission: to find a previously unknown Jane Austen novel (a completed version of *The Watsons*) and get copies of the letters that Austen’s sister destroyed at her death. Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane pose as a brother and sister from Jamaica with a letter of introduction to Henry Austen, Jane Austen’s banker brother. They must set themselves up as wealthy (former) plantation owners in Regency London and insinuate themselves into the Austen family circle in order to achieve their goal.
The author adeptly paints a rich portrait of Regency England, with all its mud and coal dust and noise and poverty, as it would be experienced by two people from the future. The settings feel believable, and the progress of the outsiders’ acceptance into the Austen circle is very well handled. And once Jane herself comes on the scene, the stakes are raised and the story takes on a tension that drives the reader onward.
Rachel and Liam are very concerned that their actions should not disrupt the course of history, and their worries about the effects of their presence in 1815 lend another dimension to the tale—familiar enough terrain for sci-fi fans, but not so often found in romantic fiction. All the characters are fully realized, and Jane especially is a delightful and vivid personage, totally the Jane Austen of my imagination. I loved the complications and dilemmas, the twists and shockers of the plot. I won’t tell you more because you need to discover what happens for yourself.
This is a highly accomplished debut novel, a guilty pleasure without the guilt, as if low-fat ice cream turned out to be actually delicious. If you enjoy historical fiction of any kind, you should enjoy this book.