- Paperback: 200 pages
- Publisher: AuthorHouse (June 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1504911024
- ISBN-13: 978-1504911023
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 44 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,485,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: A Novel by a Gentleman Volume I (Volume 1) Paperback – June 20, 2015
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About the Author
Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people's lives and everything that makes them complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.
As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world's thought leaders on topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.
Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen
Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates
Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld
What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg
Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz
The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus
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Prolific author Hemingway has ventured boldly into the world of fiction, and the result is a truly inspired reimagining of the life of English novelist Jane Austen. It’s an audacious premise: What if the revered literary figure had married? And what if she had married into money? The world’s legions of Austen devotees will love this story. Even one who is anything but a Janeite will admire Hemingway’s wickedly clever approach to the tale. He tells it in the delightfully mannered Regency era style of Austen herself, paying homage to her groundbreaking attention to irony, wit, plot and the themes of love, loyalty and relationships.
Like Jane’s imagined wedding night, this story is a bit slow at getting to the fireworks, but once it does it soars aloft like a hot air balloon – and quite literally. Along the way we meet a colorful collection of fully realized characters, most notably the dashing yet callow young Ashton Dennis, whom war and the world transform into a fitting suitor for the brilliant Englishwoman. Will their union produce happiness, children and prosperity for Jane? Will she still be doomed to ill health and an early demise? Hemingway holds the answers in his mischievous mind, aiming to answer them in a pair of sequelsl. Jane Austen fans, rejoice!
The fictional and factual elements of her life are blended seamlessly. Hemingway lies as little as possible to the reader, following the known biographical details closely and deviating only when necessary. He also borrows from other incidents of her life, such as the proposal she received from Harris Bigg-Wither and her friendship with Bigg-Wither’s sisters. These details are smoothly shifted over to the fictional Dennis family.
The story opens at an assembly in Bath. Mr. Dennis was supposed to escort his sister and the Austen sisters but he is tardy; when he makes his entrance, he is very much a bull in a china shop. A few years younger than Jane, stuttering and awkward, he scarcely appears to have potential as a suitor, despite his wealth (acquired, sadly, through trade). But in the course of time, propose he does and is accepted—though after a night’s agonizing, Jane changes her mind and turns him down.
Ashton, his hopes blighted, finds occasion to go off on a scientific expedition of dubious value to the West Indies, having there a series of adventures that he recounts in letters to Jane Austen (to which she, on rather thin ethical grounds, responds). This exchange of letters over three years is the heart of the book and its best part.
The title gives away that Ashton and Jane do ultimately reconcile, and this book (as of my review there are three volumes in the series) concludes with (well, just after, if you get my meaning) the wedding. It can certainly be read as a freestanding story.
I was impressed by Hemingway’s research in most aspects, though he needs to learn more about how meals were served and what the courses consisted of in the early nineteenth century. The language is also pretty good, though there are modernisms that jolted me out of the story from time to time—“get a jump on,” “pulled the buff brick house visually together.” I did not entirely see the Jane Austen of my imagination in this portrayal, though I liked the character as she was written. And the author entirely delighted me with his gratuitous mention of the White Horse Inn at Dorking, in Surrey, the area about which I am writing my own series of historical fictions! The reference especially worked because it took place in 1805, about the time Jane Austen was working on *The Watsons,* whose opening scene is set there.
I liked this story—even the delicately handled wedding night scene at the end, something I usually shy away from. The characters were vivid and interesting, and the course of the love story was touching and believable. Like many romantic fictions written by men, it achieves a balance between the male and female points of view that I find satisfying. These felt like real people and real lives. Highly recommended for Austenesque readers.
Throughout this impeccably researched story, Mr. Hemingway explores the real Jane’s attitude toward love and marriage in a time when society measured a woman’s worth by her wealth and her birth. In early 19th century England, marriage gave women status and financial security as they could not acquire money on their own without inheriting or marrying into good fortune, so many women did not marry for affection or love.
From the cobbled streets of Bath where Jane defies social and moral conventions and boldly displays her independent spirit in public, putting Bath society in an uproar, to the pastoral setting of Hampshire, the long courtship between the fictional heroine and Ashton Dennis, written through vivid narration and epistolary form, questions “what if” on Jane’s life. Staying true to many Austen characters, the author depicts Jane and Ashton’s strong feelings, not based on appearance, money, or status, but through a mutual understanding developed as they take time to know each other.
With close detail to historical events of the Georgian era, Mr. Hemingway does a fine job of bridging the gap between romance and realism. The novel concludes in a marriage based on love and respect instead of superficial qualities such as money and status or one that results from haste and impulse.
Jane Austen would applaud this marriage.