Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday With Kaye: "Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron" by Stephanie Barron (Reviewed by Kaye George)

This week Kaye George considers a book set in a bygone era……

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron by Stephanie Barron

To read this series is to be transported to Regency England, to the decadence of the Prince Regent that flourished alongside the strict morals professed by the proper folk. It's as if Stephanie Barron time-traveled to 1813 to absorb every nuance of custom and conversation, then hurried back to set it all down for us. The fascinating, bizarre cast includes the Prince Regent, of course (Prinny), Lord
Byron, and Lady Caroline Lamb. These last two dissolute characters, the author says, were actually tamed down in her version, and they're wild!

In its leisurely, elegant way, the novel brings us to the death of Jane Austen's beloved sister-in-law, Eliza, Comtesse de Feuillide, and the wife of her brother, Henry. The dying woman seems to whisper something to Jane as she expires. Regret?Jane isn't quite sure what she heard. She is writing her third novel, Mansfield Park, and plans to publish it anonymously, as she has her first two. Miss Austen is not as absorbed in it as she would like, though, and agrees to accompany Henry to Brighton to dispel the gloom caused by Eliza's death.

On their way, Jane rescues a girl of fifteen, Catherine Twining, who has been abducted, bound and gagged, from the coach of Lord Byron! Byron, otherwise known as George Gordon, has just published his epic poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and every woman in England swoons when he draws near. Every woman but Catherine, with whom Byron is obsessed. Even Jane has to fight a physical attraction to see clearly whether or not he's guilty of the murder with which he's charged. The corrupt officials want to say the crime is solved, but have no interest in uncovering any facts, or even questioning anyone. It's up to Jane to see that justice is done.

A most satisfactory trip through springtime madness on the coast of England in a bygone time.

Reviewed by Kaye George author of A Patchwork of Stories for Suspense Magazine


Alice Duncan said...

So happy to learn of another Jane Austen book by Stephanie Barron! I love these books, and was sorry she seemed to give them up (If I know publishers, it was probably because they made her). Yippee!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

This is the 10th book in the series and was published back in 2010.