Saturday, March 5, 2016

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

1814 is drawing to a close and Jane, Cassandra, and their mother travel to their former home to spend the holidays with the Mr. Collins-like James Austen and his Mary Musgrove-like second wife, Mary.  They're in for a drearily holiday until a neighbor invites the family for a series of parties and balls to celebrate the full Christmas season (the holiday not being confined to a mere day until the rather dreary Prince Albert imported that tradition).  Jane, as usual, stumbles upon a murder and with the help of Benjamin West's son Raphael (an artist in his own right but here making sketches for a later work of his father's), untangles a web involving both clandestine love affairs and foreign affairs.  As usual, the charm of the story lies in "meeting" the inspirations for Jane's characters and seeing her for the witty, rather sharp-tongued woman she must have been (rather than the prim spinster her nieces and nephews made her out to be after her death).

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