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The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume II Kindle Edition
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|Length: 332 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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By using the real Jane Austen as the protagonist instead of a made-up character, Mr. Hemingway is given liberty to touch on important topics that concerned Jane personally, and which she inserted into her own novels; slave trade practices within the British Empire, religion and creation, science and industry, and the order of society in which she lived.
This compelling and skillfully written novel captures the essence of the times from an insular world of the English countryside, among mansion-house staff and country fools and snobs, to inside London’s Houses of Parliament where divided rulers of Britain make life-altering decisions and where an activist-minded Jane, through Mr. Hemingway's resourceful vision, finds raw material to write her brilliant novels a decade later.
Jane and Ashton's adjustments to married life are woven throughout. The interpersonal intimacies of this 19th century couple are tender and thoughtful. Hemingway's depictions of their interactions with each other and with historic characters allow the reader to feel part of the social settings and conversations that take place in the story. The continuation, from volume I, of Jane's letter writing to her sister highlights just how expressive and comprehensive fine letter writing can be. In the face of new experiences and challenges, Jane's character grows in deep and thoughtful ways. Her encounter with a publisher perhaps foretells her future. Can't wait for volume III to find out.
Hemingway, the former newspaper editor, Microsoft executive and prolific author of nonfiction business books, has produced a tour de force with his second volume of The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen. These latest episodes reimagining of the life of the Georgian era English novelist will leave her most loyal fans aching for the third and final book in the trilogy.
I have to confess that I was never enthralled with Austen’s work and finished Pride and Prejudice and later Sense and Sensibility only because they were required in my collegiate English literature classes. That said, I can appreciate the captivation experienced by her present-day devotees, and I can’t help admiring the ambition and brilliance of Hemingway’s accomplishment.
Book the Second traces the arc of Jane’s romance with husband Ashton Dennis as they navigate the plot lines of her pregnancy, his risky business ventures and their ultimately disastrous relationship with an aristocratic couple who support colonial slavery.
Non-Janeites will need to suspend their credulity a bit as Hemingway’s story unfolds. It requires more than one small leap of faith to believe that the stuttering but dashing and very wealthy Aston would marry the tall, plain parson’s daughter, who died a spinster in real life. But Hemingway does his literary best to help the reader believe that her dazzling intellect is pure catnip for Ashton and that it’s a wonderful bonus when he discovers, post-vows, that she turns out to be an indefatigable tigress between the bed sheets. Who knew?
Let’s not pick at nits, however. Hemingway knows how to tell a story, and he has mastered the trick of penning it in the mannered prose that Austen herself used in her romantic novels set among the middle classes and landed gentry. Hemingway helps the yarn immensely by weaving it expertly with well-researched history of events at the dawn of the 19th century.