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The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen Paperback – November 6, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This fascinating novel will make readers swear there was such a man as Mr. Ashford and that there is such a memoir... Tantalizing, tender, and true to the Austen mythos, James’s book is highly recommended.” (Best First Novel of 2008, Library Journal)

“James creates a life story for Austen that illuminates how her themes and plots may have developed... the reader blindly pulls for the heroine… hoping against history that Austen might yet enjoy the satisfactions of romance... offers a deeper understanding of what Austen’s life might have been like.” (Los Angeles Times)

“James…[has] a sensitive ear for the Austenian voice and a clear passion for research...a thoughtful, immensely touching romance that does justice to its subject and will delight anyone who feels...that Austen couldn’t have written with such insight without having had a great romance of her own.” (Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine)

“Austen and Ashford seem a perfect match in matters of head and heart ... though she hews closely to the historic record, [James] creates...will-they-or-won’t-they suspense that culminates with a proposal and an “intensely” kissed Austen. A pleasant addition to the ever-expanding Austen-revisited genre.” (Publishers Weekly)

“There are not enough accolades i could use to recommend this book ... I read it thinking all the while it was a newly discovered memoir of the famous writer. That is how good the writing is... It is a love affair equal to anything Jane Austen wrote.” (News Review)

“Suspenseful... and filled with surprises... one of the best additions to the current spate of books featuring Jane Austen.” (Santa Barbara Independent)

“James has taken on an enormous task-channel Austen and bring her back to life-and she has done just that ... Talk about a love story. Whether or not it happened, James has created the possibility in an intelligent, historical romance novel. I do believe that Jane would approve.” (Writer's Flow)

“Readers may find themselves forgetting that the book is fiction… James bases her book on facts from Austen’s life and … clearly depicts Austen’s witty imagination and keen intelligence… Readers may want to pour themselves a cup of tea before settling in with this novel… It’s a delightful read.” (Montgomery Advertiser)

“A delicious novel... comic scenes of hilarity together with love scenes of great emotion, witty dialogue, and well-drawn characters. Jane Austen comes alive from the first page to the last. You truly believe that you are reading her long-lost memoirs, not a historical fiction novel.” (diavasame.gr, Athens, Greece)

“Rarely have I read a book that I enjoyed as much ... I honestly believe even Jane herself would have loved this book... It’s written so well, and stays so true to form for the historical period, that it feels uncannily like a real memoir ... utterly delightful!” (Romance Reader At Heart.Com)

“Captures all that is best and true about Jane Austen … You will find yourself caught and enchanted ... For die-hard Austenites, this is the book you’ve been waiting for; for those of you wishing for knowledge of how to be a writer like Austen, you can find that, too.” (Romance Vagabonds.com)

“A fantastic addition to all things Jane … one of those books that must go into the pile that I will read again and again … James does a beautiful job weaving together elements of fact, fiction, and imagination, which made this reader believe in the truth of her fiction.” (Savvy Verse & Wit.com)

“James’s book imagines a Mr. Ashford for Jane, a man with whom she shares a good deal of passion in the two years preceding the publication of Sense and Sensibility ... And if she didn’t she should have, as it makes for a compelling read.” (News Observer)

“The writing style was so effortlessly Austen that I almost felt as if I truly was reading a memoir penned by her own hand. And while these lost memoirs were just a fabrication, Ms. James did a terrific job of melding the historical details from Ms. Austen’s life. (The Writer's Road Less Traveled)

“A story that not only leaves you believing ‘it could have happened,’ but wishing ‘oh… I hope she had this’ ... I was wholly engaged from beginning to end ... When I closed the cover (the very tactilely pleasing cover) … I felt as though I’d made a friend.” (Dear Author.Com)

About the Author

Syrie James is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Nocturne; Dracula, My Love; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women's National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal.) Translation rights for Syrie's books have been sold in sixteen languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things 19th century. She lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the Writer's Guild of America.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061341428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061341427
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Our own dear Jane Austen died far, far too young, at the age of 41, leaving behind only 6 completed novels, a handful of other partial novels, juvenilia, and letters. Shortly before she herself died, Jane's beloved sister Cassandra burned an undetermined number of Jane's letters and cut portions out of many others. We will never find out what was in those letters.

But what if we could find out more about Jane's life? What if we could read about the great love of her life? That is what Syrie James has done in her novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

According to the "Editor's Forward," written by Mary I. Jesse, of Oxford University, President of the Jane Austen Literary Foundation, an old chest was recently found, walled up at Chawton Manor House. Inside the chest were manuscripts, written in a lady's hand. These manuscripts are the memoirs of Jane Austen.

The memoirs contained in this volume cover a period of years from about 1800-1817. Jane wrote her story because (pgs. 7-8 in the ARC & as experted on the website):


there may, I think, be speculation when I am gone. People may read what I have written, and wonder: how could this spinster, this woman who, to all appearances, never even courted--who never felt that wondrous connection of mind and spirit between a man and woman, which, inspired by friendship and affection, blooms into something deeper--how could she have had the temerity to write about the revered institutions of love and courtship, having never experienced them herself?
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Format: Paperback
It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are only a handful of things in this world that are truly irresistible: Colin Firth in a cravat; a love story gone awry but with the promising outcome of a happily ever after; and a deliciously witty comedic scene a la Jane Austen.

Over the summer, a number of Austen-themed novels hit the store shelves: ever delightful and easily devoured in an afternoon or two by any real Pride & Prejudice fan who decided to harm her complexion by a day at the beach.

Undoubtedly, Mr. Darcy has captured the heart of every red-blooded wanna-be Elizabeth who dares calls herself a romantic (see: Colin Firth in a cravat), but where are those books for those fans of Mr. Knightley or Colonel Branden? Where are they to find their passionate read?

Look no further. Syrie James has satisfied us on every score...except that perhaps of a happily ever after. After all, anything titled: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, comes with the ready knowledge that this romp does not end with a wedding. At least not Jane's wedding.

But whereas we know Romeo & Juliet doesn't end happily, it isn't any less a great love story--and Syrie weaves for us a very credible tale about a witty, budding authoress who upon touring with her brother, Henry, in Lyme, finds herself in a similar predicament as one of the heroines of her stories: that of being in danger of falling love with a captivating young man.

Mr. Ashford has all the dash of Colin Firth in a cravat with none of the awkward, introverted behavior. He is charming, friendly, trustworthy, and kind. Not only that, he is a mentor. He encourages Jane to pursue her dreams of becoming a published novelist--but he doesn't mince words about what it truly takes to do so.
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Format: Paperback
Author Syrie James's personal & professional accomplishments serve her well in her reverent presentation of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Her website brims with such a diversity of talents that one does not question why she is qualified to write about such a sensitive subject, but rather why she waited so long! Even Jane Austen's discerning character Mr. Darcy might consider her one of the 12 most accomplished women of his acquaintance.

Breaching the hollowed halls of Jane Austen para-literature is a daunting task for none but the stout-of-heart and thick-of-skin writer. Mrs. James wears her Austen-armor well and delivers a sincere and honest love story that will engage and delight most Jane Austen devotees, and raise an inquisitive eyebrow of the Austen purists. Her Jane is real and approachable, flesh and bone, human and fallible; -- not the stour judgemental old maid envisioned in the 19th-century portraits. We feel her troubles, her joy, her pain, understand her life decisions, and appreciate her all the more for it.

It is not often that this discerning reader can offer unqualified praise, so I will not break my streak. Five Austen stars!

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
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Format: Paperback
My first impression of Lost Memoirs was that it is written in a decent imitation of Jane Austen's style. Ms. James does not quite channel Jane Austen, but she is also not so modern to be distracting. I did find it odd that it doesn't read as a journal would at all. I have no problem with reading a fictionalized novel about Jane Austen, but don't tell me it is her (fake) lost memoirs and then give me a novel. This is just a personal peeve, however, and doesn't take away from the reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book. Around the halfway point is when the interworking of Jane Austen's novels becomes prevalent. At first the references are sparse and put a little smile of recognition on my face (although Ms. James felt the need to then point out the correlations which took away some of the fun). The story quickly falls into a tag team between "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride & Prejudice". It was almost as if the writer gave up trying to make up her own plot line and interjecting pieces that would have provided Jane inspiration, and instead she falls into having Jane actually LIVE every part of those novels (without the happy ending). The ending, out of necessity, does become Syrie James's own story again.

While I agree with almost every piece of Cheryl Tasses's review of the book, I don't think you have to either love or hate it. I did not love nor hate it. I was entertained and had a.. warm liking of it overall. I would have given it a strong four stars based on the beginning; it would have remained four stars if Ms. James had stuck to her own plot devices and not fallen into working in *so* much of Jane's novels. In the end, I am not sorry I spent $11 on it. It was a decent novel, I just feel the writer had all the tools at her disposal to make it much stronger.
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