“Southard has taken the facts about the great author and woven them into a credible, touching, and also entertaining portrait of a life.” -Historical Novel Society
“For those of you who are exhausted by the innumerable retellings of Austen’s novels, this is a style entirely new…. be rewarded by a quick paced novel unlike any you can ever have read, which injects new ideas and possibilities into the world of Jane Austen.” –Laura Boyle, The Jane Austen Centre
Narrator: Louisa Gummer
Listening Length: 11 hours, 50 minutes
Publisher: Madison Street Publishing
Release Date: September 23, 2014
About the Story: All her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane? Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess. Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for Jane.
Review: I finished this listen a couple of days ago and spent some time thinking about how I would tell you why I liked this book so much. Because like it I did! It was written in a classic way, I consider it literary fiction, very much the style of writing in the days of Jane Austen.
The narrator, Louisa Gummer sets the tone of the story in the prologue and chapter 1 of the book. Her voice is mesmerizing with a rich alto quality. Her sentence cadence is perfect, enunciating clearly and using the words to create beauty in and of themselves. Her voice is well-matched to the words Scott D. Southard puts to pen.
I prized the unique beginning of this tale, how the author made me feel. Once we knew who the primary characters were, the curtain rises on stage, the cock crows and Jane and her family exist once again having breakfast while her father, Reverend Austen makes an announcement to his family.
The humorous tone of the story was brought to the fore from the first chapter. Because of the underlying humor of the story, it was additionally entertaining to listen to Ms. Gummer’s voice with its expression of humor. She was very much a story teller, actively living the moment with her listeners.
The author took what history knows of Jane Austen’s life and very cleverly and amusingly propels us into Jane’s life, using his imagination in what he thought her life could have been.
History tells us that Jane’s older sister Cassandra was her closet friend and this is well portrayed in the story. The narrator used a sweet, patient voice for Cassandra, a person who didn’t expect much from her life. Another friend of Jane’s was Harriet who loved Jane unconditionally. Ms. Gummer had a very cute voice for her, too, with a slight speech impediment. Harriet had trouble with her w sounds. They sounded like r’s.
I was laughing so hard in some of the dialog from Mrs. Austen. She was quite the busy body of the village. Once you understand what type of person she is, (you do from the first chapter), you cannot help but laugh at how artfully the dialog is handled by Ms. Gummer. Her comedian background and wit really brought this part of the story alive. I’m sure my reading it wouldn’t have done this scene its due.
Readers who enjoy books that use Jane Austen’s characters in their writing will get much more from this book. We get to meet Jane Austen herself as she is writing her books and experience the moment when she finally becomes published. I applaud Scott D. Southard for this marvelous, delightfully written story which I place in literary fiction genre. I cried for Jane. I cried for another of the characters whom I can’t share his name—no spoilers here. I laughed at how the characters were described, acted and how outlandish some reacted to events. I’m sure this will be one of my better reads/listens this year and will stay long with me. A most laudable book with a laudable production. Bravo, bravo, bravo!
About the Author: Scott D. Southard, the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, swears he is not obsessed with Jane Austen. He is also the author of the novels: My Problem with Doors, Megan, Permanent Spring Showers, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, and 3 Days in Rome.
With his eclectic writing he has found his way into radio, being the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production. Scott received his Master’s in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard” (sdsouthard.com) where he writes on far-ranging topics like writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site. Currently, Scott resides in Michigan with his very understanding wife, his two patient children, and a very opinionated dog named Bronte.