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Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor (Jane Austen Mysteries #1)

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  3,439 ratings  ·  424 reviews
For everyone who loves Jane Austen...a marvelously entertaining new series that turns the incomparable author into an extraordinary sleuth!

On a visit to the estate of her friend, the young and beautiful Isobel Payne, Countess of Scargrave, Jane bears witness to a tragedy. Isobel's husband,a gentleman of mature years, is felled by a mysterious and agonizing ailment. The Ear
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Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by Crimeline (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cathy
Mar 21, 2007 Cathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: girl-lit geeks
This series of fictional mysteries solved by Jane Austen are charming and witty and a whole lot of fun for people who can't get enough Jane Austen. You need a healthy dose of girl-geekness to love these, but luckily I have plenty to spare. Usually I dislike mysteries, but these have enough Austen flair to gloss over the fact that they're all whodunnits.
Linda
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was well-written and fast-paced, with lots of lovely Georgian detail about dress, manners, and events. The footnotes explain some of the more arcane terms. I will probably end up reading all of these novels in which Jane Austen herself turns sleuth.

So, why the 3-star review?

In short, the character of Jane does not ring true with what is known of the real Jane's relatively quiet life. In one scene, the reader is told that an assembly of the Lords was a once
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Wealhtheow
Jane Austen solves mysteries! The first half is very stilted and badly written. The author is clearly nervous and uncomfortable writing Regency-era dialog. The characters are boring cliches. Everyone compliments Austen on her wit, but she never said anything remotely clever. In the second half, Austen races around London trying to solve a murder mystery. Unfortunately, it's a stupid murder and an even stupider murderer (upon being caught, the person actually rants about how they'd have gotten aw ...more
Alison
Definitely not my favorite book at all. I think it's ridiculous the author takes Jane Austen and turns her into the character of a mystery novel, all the while trying to write as if she was Jane Austen. The effort falls flat on its face - it would have been better if she would have created her own character, instead of suffocating the book in I-wish-I-could-write-like-Austen prose. It should be illegal to take anything from Jane Austen - whether it be her characters or herself - and turn it in t ...more
Kristen
I think the later volumes are of a slightly higher quality than the first two (this one being the first). There is not as much depth to Jane here, which does make sense considering her acquaintance with mystery and violent death only begins with this book. But it is delightful to see her encounter Lord Harold first as an antagonist here (since I read later volumes first, it was quite entertaining).
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Good mystery element - but attempting to write in the voice of Jane Austen is ... ambitious.
Diane
I must admit, when I first heard that someone had written a mystery series with Jane Austen as the sleuth, I thought, "How stupid!" I've come across other mysteries with celebrities as sleuths, and had not liked any of them. However, I came across "Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor" and since it was a good price, I bought it. I was surprised by how well written the book was, and how it managed to keep my attention. Usually, if a book doesn't catch my attention right away, I get bore ...more
Ruth
The Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is the first in a series of novels that purports to be based on "long lost" Austen journals -- journals where, shockingly enough, Jane is revealed to have an aptitude for solving crimes. Perhaps even more shocking is how well the concept works in Barron's execution of the story. Through novels like Pride and Prejudice and Emma, Austen revealed herself possess a masterful understanding of human nature and all its foibles, and this skill lends itself well to c ...more
Zulfiya
It is an entertaining read, and the second (middle) part of the book is really exciting, but sometimes Barron tries too hard to imitate the style of Jane Austen, and though the words like 'probity', 'perspicacity', 'equanimity' are truly words of the early nineteenth century fiction discourse, their usage in the Barons novel is a bit too far-fetched, repetitive and slightly artificial.
If anyone is looking at Barron's books as a wonderful example of stylization, my advice is to look elsewhere.
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Ana T.
On a visit to the estate of her friend, the young and beautiful Isobel Payne, Countess of Scargrave, Jane bears witness to a tragedy. Isobel's husband—a gentleman of mature years—is felled by a mysterious and agonizing ailment. The Earl's death seems a cruel blow of fate for the newly married Isobel. Yet the bereaved widow soon finds that it's only the beginning of her misfortune...as she receives a sinister missive accusing her and the Earl's nephew of adultery—and murder. Desperately afraid th ...more
Heather
Feb 25, 2010 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves a good Jane Austen book, or a good mystery
I must admit that I began Miss Barron’s book feeling a little silly. I’ve been on quite the Jane Austen kick lately, and thought this would be a cute, if not quite satisfying, diversion to patch me through the hours between reading aloud “Pride and Prejudice” with my husband.
I was very pleasantly surprised, then, to find Miss Barron’s book supremely enjoyable. She captures Austen’s voice quite well, and refrains from indulging a modern reimagining of Austen and her contemporaries – there is no
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Pylgrym
In keeping with my current "no gore, guts or getting it on" campaign, I decided to try this series. Enjoyable. I dislike the "found manuscript" ploy. As a recovering scholar unable to ignore footnotes, I found them disrupting and unnecessary. No one picks up anything with Jane's name on it without having been immersed in the period. Most readers have gained sufficient background from her "stepdaughters", Heyer, Veryan and the entire Regency ouevre. The author did an excellant job of imitating Au ...more
Cindy
I found this book on vacation, and am always glad with a new series find; but, while I did somewhat enjoy this book, it is not a series I plan to continue. Just didn't hit the mark for me, and don't really know why. Perhaps it is as one reviewer states, the character is attributed with great wit and there is nothing in the dialogue to prove it. I think I'll stick to Sharon McCrumb, she never fails me. Don't let that stop you though, cause maybe it was just my mood at the time.
Becky Morrette
I had this book in my "to read" pile for several months and pulled it out when I saw the group would be reading it. It took me a couple of chapters to get into it, but I have to say I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure what to think at first. And once I let go of all my Ï don't know if Jane would do that" issues, I found it to be well written and had a hard time putting it down (which lead to some late night reading and not so perky next morning at work). She also kept me guessing as to who was th ...more
Ruby Rose Scarlett
Excellent plot, characterization and writing. Not sure including Jane Austen was necessary but it sure is lovely to be acquainted with a lot of her life already.
Jennifer
These books are so cleverly done that they actually "work." Suspend your imagination for just a little while, and enjoy the best of two worlds: It's Jane Austen meets the British cozy mystery! Somehow it holds together, in part because Barron does such a wonderful job imitating Jane's voice(see the letters of Jane Austen: Jane Austen's Letters ). Witty banter, family relationships, familiar settings from Jane's life (and the lives of her heroines), and plenty of historical personalities and even ...more
Jeni
Apr 01, 2011 Jeni rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: series
Ah, it's almost as if Jane were alive again. I truly enjoyed this Austen-esque mystery set in the early 1800's. The premise of Jane herself getting tangled up in a murder mystery while visiting a friend was quite fun. I would say the mystery itself was not terribly hard to figure out, but the writing was wonderful. Oh, Jane, I miss you! I'm looking forward to reading more in this series. A fairly light, but enjoyable read that Austen fans would probably have fun with.
Beth
I was excited by the premise behind this novel - but the telling didn't match the idea. The theory is that some of Jane Austen's personal diaries and letters have been recovered and in them she goes about her normal life but is interrupted by mysteries. Sounds fun - but it was pretty boring. The real author does not create exciting and engaging characters and the mystery is formulaic. I won't be reading anymore in the series.
Marit
I am not a fan usually of murder mysteries and I am always dubious about Jane Austen-esque literature because it's normally quite bad and nowhere rivals Jane Austen. However, these books are exceptional. You believe the books are truly written during the period (even if you disagree, for whatever reason, of Austen's fictional characterization) and the plots are well-spun and not at all hokey.
Janell
My rating wavered back and forth through most of this book. I had a hard time getting past the idea of the main character being Jane Austen. She really seemed out of place in this setting. Plus, for me the "language of Austen" didn't mesh well with the "cozy mystery" concept. It was frustrating to read which made it hard to stay interested in the story.
Danielle
I really enjoyed this book. The author did a good job of keeping their way of speaking to that of the Jane Austen time as well as giving us a little glimpse of what the legal proceedings were like without making it a court/legal type book. It was all about the characters and their motives. I am looking forward to reading the rest in this series.
Roberta
Romanzo davvero gustoso, il primo di una serie che vede Jane Austen protagonista di vari "gialli". Non posso dire che la trama gialla mi abbia appassionato in particolar modo, ma qualsiasi pecca è stata riscattata dall'ambientazione e dalla splendida scrittura di questo romanzo. Ora non rimane che recuperare il successivo!
Eleonora
3.5
Sono soffisfatta. La scrittura è scorrevole e la trama mi ha catturata. Ci sono innumerevoli richiami ai libri di zia Jane, me li aspettavo e in fondo mi sono anche piaciuti.
Non so quando leggerò gli altri, ma lo farò.
Ubah Khasimuddin
I'm going to be honest, I had a hard time getting into this book. That this author loves Jane Austen is quite apparent, that she has also watched the tv-miniseries of Pride and Prejudice a number of times is also evident. But reading the book, you feel like all she did was regurgitate Austen's very lines or quotes from the movie. I felt initially it was just another poor imitation of the original. The mystery takes a while to get going as well, but once it starts, that is when the book moves bet ...more
Lisa
It was with a measure of trepidation that I began reading this novel. I was concerned with how much borrowed brilliance I would have to read and felt a protectiveness for Jane Austen and her work. I did not warm to the literary device of using Editor's notes to set up the false premise that it all stemmed from lost diary entries that Jane Austen left behind. Once I relaxed into the Agatha Christie style country house murder plot written in the Regency period I began to enjoy the story. It is cle ...more
Ruth
I have a built-in prejudice against Jane Austen 'fan fiction'; I've just read too many crappy attempts, none of which come close to the real author's brilliance (and why should they? Modern authors live in a modern era, not in Regency England--no matter how they try to insert themselves).

That said, this one surprised me. I liked it much better than I thought I would. I was still pretty irritated in the first half whenever I encountered a verbatim "Austen" quote straight out of P & P or any o
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Jenn
I'm kind of torn on this one. On one hand, I mostly enjoyed the story. On the other, I found it a bit tedious. I'm not sure if it's the fictionalizing of an actual person's life that's bugging me. I mean, I generally enjoy historical fiction when it's of historical figures (rulers and such), but it feels different when it's someone who wasn't really in the public eye in their time, you know? Maybe that's silly or I'm not stating it right, but there ya go.

The mystery had plenty of twists and turn
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Lynda
Any Jane Austen fan will enjoy Barron's Jane Austen Mysteries. Stephanie Barron's rendition of Jane Austen put me in mind of Sherlock Holmes. A young woman shows her quick mind and wit by helping to solve the murder of her close friend's husband. The characters and settings consist of people and places actually from Austen's life. The origins of various quotes from her novels are birthed in the story plot. The characters carry over to the subsequent novels of the series. The tone of the book is ...more
Lisa
I don't know if this is somehow true to what is known about Jane Austen--although the author certainly seems to have done her research--but I don't really care much, as it has enough allusions to the Austen canon to make it fun and is yet another of the many Edwardian/Victorian cozy mysteries that I find enjoyable. It's better than many, despite my suspicion of derivative works (and despite my having written one) and I look forward to reading the other books in the series. One quibble--it was no ...more
Alice
The concept is intriguing-- Jane Austin as detective. But the story just drug along. (A fan of Austin would have know much of the information covered in the ubiquitous footnotes. Anyone else probably won't/didn't care.)

Unpleasantness. Deliberate wordiness and complicated sentence structure.

An Austin-like observations:

pg 56 I find there is nothing sadder than such a ceremony, when it is marked by indifference and ignorance of its subject. Better to be celebratedby those whom one has know and love
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Stephanie Barron was born Francine Stephanie Barron in Binghamton, NY in 1963, the last of six girls. Her father was a retired general in the Air Force, her mother a beautiful woman who loved to dance. The family spent their summers on Cape Cod, where two of the Barron girls
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More about Stephanie Barron...

Other Books in the Series

Jane Austen Mysteries (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Jane and the Man of the Cloth (Jane Austen Mysteries, #2)
  • Jane and the Wandering Eye (Jane Austen Mysteries, #3)
  • Jane and the Genius of the Place (Jane Austen Mysteries, #4)
  • Jane and the Stillroom Maid (Jane Austen Mysteries, #5)
  • Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House (Jane Austen Mysteries, #6)
  • Jane and the Ghosts of Netley (Jane Austen Mysteries, #7)
  • Jane and His Lordship's Legacy (Jane Austen Mysteries, #8)
  • Jane and the Barque of Frailty (Jane Austen Mysteries, #9)
  • Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (Jane Austen Mysteries, #10)
  • Jane and the Canterbury Tale (Jane Austen Mysteries, #11)
Jane and the Man of the Cloth (Jane Austen Mysteries, #2) Jane and the Wandering Eye (Jane Austen Mysteries, #3) Jane and the Stillroom Maid (Jane Austen Mysteries, #5) Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House (Jane Austen Mysteries, #6) Jane and the Genius of the Place (Jane Austen Mysteries, #4)

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