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The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

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Many rumors abound about a mysterious gentleman said to be the love of Jane's life—finally, the truth may have been found...
What if, hidden in an old attic chest, Jane Austen's memoirs were discovered after hundreds of years? What if those pages revealed the untold story of a life-changing love affair? That's the premise behind this spellbinding novel, which delves into the secrets of Jane Austen's life, giving us untold insights into her mind and heart.

Jane Austen has given up her writing when, on a fateful trip to Lyme, she meets the well-read and charming Mr. Ashford, a man who is her equal in intellect and temperament. Inspired by the people and places around her, and encouraged by his faith in her, Jane begins revising Sense and Sensibility, a book she began years earlier, hoping to be published at last.

Deft and witty, written in a style that echoes Austen's own, this unforgettable novel offers a delightfully possible scenario for the inspiration behind this beloved author's romantic tales. It's a remarkable book, irresistible to anyone who loves Jane Austen—and to anyone who loves a great story.

303 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2007

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About the author

Syrie James

16 books937 followers
Syrie James is the USA TODAY and Amazon bestselling author of thirteen novels of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance, which have been published in 21 languages.

Los Angeles Magazine dubbed Syrie the “queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” Syrie’s novel “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen” sold at auction to HarperCollins in a bidding war and became an international bestseller. Her passion for love stories and the paranormal led to her critically acclaimed and award-winning novels “Dracula, My Love,” “Nocturne,” and the popular YA series “Forbidden.” Her love of English historical romance led to her Amazon bestselling Dare to Defy series.

Syrie’s books have won numerous accolades and awards, including the national Audiobook Audie Award for Romance, and the Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association (“The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte”); Best New Fiction by Regency World Magazine ( “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen”); Barnes and Noble’s Romantic Read of the Week and Bookbub’s Best Snowbound Romance (“Nocturne”). Her novels have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, hit many Best of the Year lists, and been designated as Library Journal Editor’s Picks of the Year.

Syrie is also an award-winning screenwriter and WGA member who has sold or optioned numerous scripts to film and television. Syrie's successful adaptations of books to screen include the movie based on Danielle Steele’s bestseller “Once in a Lifetime."

In demand as a speaker across the U.S., Syrie is also a playwright whose work has been produced in New York City, California, and Canada.

Find Syrie at:
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,048 reviews
Profile Image for Beverly.
835 reviews314 followers
April 16, 2021
When I bought this ebook I was entranced by the lovely cover and it seemed like a pretty idea for a book too. What if Miss Austen had had a secret love that no one knew about? I'm afraid that I didn't enjoy this much at all, though. I found it a little insulting too, because, it bases the stories in Austen's books on this imaginary relationship and not her wonderful imagination; as if, she couldn't have thought up all those plots and twists on her own.
Profile Image for Christina.
Author 12 books312 followers
March 18, 2012
Jane Austen. Fact: born December 16, 1775; died July 18, 1817 at age 41. Fact: never married. Fact: wrote six complete novels, including a few unfinished works, and juvenilia. Fact: lived out her life in a quiet Chawton Cottage with her older, spinster sister Cassandra and aging mother. Also known is that not long before her own death, Cassandra burned much of Jane's private correspondence and even cut out entire passages of the letters saved, driving many discussions as to why? Many Jane Austen biographies abound and mention her brief flirtation with Tom Lefroy at the age of 19, and even her short-lived engagement to Harris Bigg-Wither, heir of Manydown Park, where over night she retracted her acceptance of his hand. But nothing from the author herself. Nothing as rich as a personal journal. What a literary triumph that would be to discover such a one! Surely, a writer with transparent understanding of romance, great love and human nature would have had her own back story to mine such rich characters, conversations and scenarios as found in Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, et al. Surely, such a mind would have experienced first-hand what it is to be in-love! Author Syrie James undertakes this venture of speculation in her novel, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

In this fictional work, the story opens with an Editor's Forward, written by a Mary I. Jesse, of Oxford University, President of the Jane Austen Literary Foundation, stating that manuscripts written in Jane Austen's own hand were recently discovered in a chest that had been walled up at Chawton Manor House. These memoirs begin with Jane and Cassandra moving to Bath in 1801 with their parents, until Mr. Austen dies four years later, leaving the women barely solvent. During these years they make extended stays with their Austen brothers and are quite dependent on their kindness. On one particular occasion while visiting Lyme with her brother Henry, Jane meets the handsome, rich and amiable Mr. Frederick Ashford. As devoted Janeites will clearly perceive the language, phrasing and situations found in Austen's masterpieces, we would also easily recognize many of her male protagonists' characteristics in this fine gentleman. One example while strolling the Cobb, Jane loses her footing and would have fallen to her death on the hard pavement below if not for the quick actions by Mr. Ashford. A few moments later after this prophetic initial meeting, Jane attempts to properly thank him, Ashford declares

` No thanks are necessary.'

`Indeed they are. Reaching out as you did, you might have lost your footing and come to harm yourself.'

`Had that been the case, I would have given my life - or limb - in a worthy cause.'

`Do you mean to imply that it was worth risking your life, to save mine?'

`I do.'

`A bold statement, on such a short acquaintance.'

`In what way bold?'

`You are a gentleman and the heir to a title and, apparently, a vast estate. Whereas I am a woman with no fortune and of very little consequence.'

`If first impressions are to be believed, Miss Austen' he began.

`Never trust your first impressions, Mr. Ashford. They are invariably wrong.'

`Mine are invariably right. And they lead me to this conclusion: that you, Miss Austen, are a woman of greater fortune and consequence than I.'

`On what grounds do you base this claim?'

`On these grounds: if you were to have perished just now, how many people would have missed you?'

`How many people?'


`I would like to think my mother, my sister, my friend Martha, and my six brothers would miss me. My brothers' wives, my nieces and nephews, who number more than a dozen, and perhaps several dear old friends.'

`Whereas I have only my friend and one younger sister to regret my passing.'

`No wife, then?'

`No. So you see, although I may be rich in property, you are rich in family, and therefore the far more wealthy and important of us.'

I laughed. `If wealth were based on your principle, Mr. Ashford, the entire class system of England would fall apart at the seams.' Chapter 3

Although knowing from the beginning that this was entirely a tale of fancy, and knowing in my head that Jane never married, the story filled my heart with an impossible hope. Moreover, I was surprised when I found myself weeping when the happy event never came to be.

Syrie James has extensively researched Austen's life and Regency times blending what we know as fact with the mysterious lore created by the gaps unknown to her public, creating a beautiful, fictional what if. The footnotes, maps and Austen family tree as well as the chronology of her life were delightful reference bonuses. Also included is a Q & A with the author, Quotations from Austen's works and letters, and even Book Club/Reading Group Study Guide discussion points.

Although this novel is a work of fiction, I read it through wishing all along that it were not. Like many, I would like to imagine this brilliant, opinionated, witty woman had met the great love of her life and that she did in fact experience some of the magic she so keenly wrote of. Syrie James successfully creates a world of Jane Austen we can only wonder. "...but for my part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short." (The Juvenilia of Jane Austen) With such sage words I can only echo that The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen is indeed entirely too short!
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books346 followers
September 20, 2016
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a few years, but it wasn't until Meredith @ Austenesque Reviews blog hosted a group read that I was motivated to pull it down and read it.

Before you get the idea that my reticence is a result of not thinking I would like the book or not having interest in it any more, let me assure you that is not the case. No, my reasoning was just the usual type of laziness toward a book on the shelf paired with a certain amount of trepidation each time I pick up a book that promises to stay pretty close to fact when it comes to Jane Austen's life. I know how it ends and what happens before that- not going to offer a fluffy fairytale happily ever after. So yes, I was dragging my heels there.

The story did indeed hold close to true. And for that I am grateful to the author. I loved getting the details of Jane Austen's life paired with the authentic tone of a historical fiction work. This was a poignant story told from Jane Austen's perspective. Her wit and personality shone through. She is a delight and I enjoyed having her settled amongst her family and friends and each of those painted with depth and authenticity as well. I imagine there was liberties taken here and there, but they didn't stick out and gouge me as I read. I loved encountering the 'real life' characters surrounding her that became the characters in her novels. I think I crowed with delight as much over Mr. Collins, Lucy Steele, and Mrs. Jennings sightings just as much as the Darcy, Wentworth, and Willoughby that showed their faces.

My emotions ran the gamut from hilarity to tearful sadness. This book was captivating in its own quiet way just like Jane Austen's own works. For those who want a fictional account that will still allow them to really get to know the redoubtable Miss Jane Austen, I do heartily recommend this book.
Profile Image for Annette.
800 reviews382 followers
July 13, 2017
This fictional story was inspired by true events, when Jane Austen memoirs were discovered hidden in the attic. The author skillfully weaves a story based on the found memoirs and Jane Austen’s novels bringing the characters and language as almost written by Jane Austen about herself.

The memoirs give an inside to Jane’s family, their situation after her father’s death, her engagement proposals, and her only true love. The last one was mostly fictional, but beautifully imagined and written.

From her memoirs we also learn about her struggle to become a published author. It’s a fact that her inspiration wasn’t the charming city of Bath, but the simple and quiet countryside. Her comfort was not the sought-after balls, but her dear sister - closest friend and confidant.

The author has extensive knowledge of Jane Austen life and her works. She brilliantly bridges what is known with fiction, creating a moving love story where the reader hopes the history could be rewritten to give Jane the love she deserved. The love story is pure fiction, but with the connection of true facts, the reader almost forgets the fictional part.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author and truly enjoy her writing based on her extensive knowledge and clever writing.
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,097 reviews676 followers
June 23, 2020

I have been on a bit of an Austen trip lately and this book was the perfect continuation. It is a fictionalized account of Austen's life written as if by herself. And how masterfully it was done! Reading it I could almost image it really was Austen herself, who penned the words and coined the phrases!


Writing: There is just something about Austen's writing that is so uniquely hers, that I would probably always recognize it if confronted with it. I never thought anyone else could get close to her style, but this book proved me wrong. James almost perfectly matches Austen's style, language, wit and sentence construction. I was very impressed.

Inspiration: Austen might not have enjoyed this particular part herself, but I actually enjoyed how James incorporated events from Austen's book into this one, making it seem as if Austen drew inspiration from her own life when penning her works. It might not be truth, but for an Austen aficionado it was very pleasant experience these beloved scenes in new dressings.

Fact and fiction: Reading this it quickly becomes clear that James has done her research. She stays extremely close to the actual facts of Austen's life, her whereabouts and her family life. Still, she also adds her own spin on Austen's life with a fair splash of creative license - but I felt like it was very careful and masterful, so I really enjoyed it.

Jane: The character Jane here is so close to what I imagine her to have been in real life! She has wit, she is romantic, she is kind and she is loving. All in all, she was the perfect Austen heroine.

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Profile Image for Jeanette.
320 reviews74 followers
March 12, 2008
"Do you mean to say, that if I believe in your story as you have told it, then it is as good as if it were true?" (303) So asks Jane Austen's nephew in this fictional account of her life and so sums up my feelings for this book. While I know the story is fiction, it was written in such a true and believable fashion that I had to remind myself that it wasn't actually a recently discovered memoir of Jane Austen.
What fan of Jane Austen has not, at some point, lamented the fact that Cassandra Austen destroyed so many of her sister's letters? Who amongst us has not harbored a wish that maybe Cassandra had not destroyed them but just hidden them away really, really well and someday they will be unearthed? Or that some other forgotten and lost work of Jane Austen would be discovered?
That is the premise of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. Workmen, repairing the roof at Chawton Manor house, find an old trunk bricked up in the wall of the attic. Inside the trunk they find several old manuscripts and a ring. The manuscripts turn out to be the long lost memoirs of Jane Austen.
The story takes place during a period of time when none of Jane Austen's letters remain for modern audiences to read. This gap in time has left many today wondering what was happening in Jane's life during those silent years. Syrie James gives us a beautiful tale of what could have happened during those years. "Jane Austen has given up her writing when, on a fateful trip to Lyme, she meets the well-read and charming Mr. Ashford, a man who is her equal in in intellect and temperament. Inspired by the people and places around her, and encouraged by his faith in her, Jane begins revising Sense and Sensibility, a book she began years earlier, hoping to be published at last."
I'll admit I was skeptical at first, but this is a love story befitting of Jane Austen. I felt James captured Austen's essence and style. James gave us a mature woman, secretly in love but still grounded in the reality of her time. There have been many who have attempted to write about Jane Austen or her characters but few, if any, have done such a wonderful job. James clearly knew her subject matter and blended the fact and fiction masterfully to give us a most enjoyable, romantic story.
I did have a few complaints. I felt that James took too much of this story directly from Austen's own novels and it read more like a novel than a memoir or journal. How many people writing about events that happened years earlier can remember such long chunks of dialogue?
Withstanding these two things, the novel was wonderful and I highly recommend it to anyone, whether or not they are a fan of Jane Austen.
Profile Image for Abigail Bok.
Author 4 books207 followers
September 27, 2016
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen begins with a note from a supposed Austen scholar who has been tasked with editing and publishing a series of notebooks, discovered along with a ruby ring behind a wall in a house owned by one of Jane Austen’s brothers. The claim (which we are not really expected to believe) is that this manuscript is a memoir written by Jane Austen herself, detailing a story from her life that has never before been made public.

Once this frame has been established, we launch without further ado into the tale. We begin in 1801, with the Austen family’s removal from Steventon where her father served as rector. Upon his retirement the family relocates to Bath: Mr. and Mrs. Austen and their two spinster daughters, Cassandra and Jane. There follow many years in which the family is rootless, especially after Mr. Austen’s death in 1805. At one point Jane’s favorite brother, Henry, takes her for a brief holiday at Lyme; and there she meets a handsome and interesting man, Mr. Ashford. They feel an instant connection, but that connection is severed all too soon when he is mysteriously called away.

Back home with her family, Jane often thinks of Mr. Ashford, but there seems to be no way to renew the acquaintance. We hop back in time for a bit to an incident in which she received an offer from a longtime neighbor, Harris Bigg-Wither; she considered the offer seriously but in the end rejected it. Back in the present, the Austen family settles for a time in Southampton (by now the year is perhaps 1808), and there by chance Jane meets Mr. Ashford again.

This being an Austenesque novel, there must of course be a romance. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but the course of true love cannot be expected to run smooth. Those familiar with Jane Austen’s biography are not expecting a happy ending, but we wonder what path will take us to that forgone conclusion.

In keeping with the fiction that this is a scholarly edition, there are endnotes scattered throughout. I didn’t bother to click through to them, but some readers have complained that they give only rather obvious or well-known information. For myself, I would have dispensed with the scholarly-edition element altogether, and simply told the story, starting with the Harris Bigg-Wither incident. I would even have dispensed with framing the tale as a memoir—the author’s grasp of Austen’s writing style is limited (in fairness, I read a later book of hers and she had improved in this regard). It bothered me to be reading a supposedly first-person narrative by Jane Austen that used largely modern vocabulary and forms.

That said, the story itself is touching enough, full of twists and replete with situations that engage the reader emotionally. I enjoyed following the events and discovering how they came out. The Jane Austen who emerged from the book was probably more romantic and less caustic than my notion of the real one, but that suits contemporary tastes. I might have liked the story better had it been about a fictional authoress whose life and ideas echoed Jane Austen’s; then I would have enjoyed recognizing the parallels without holding the work to such an impossible standard.

For those interested in giving Syrie James a try, I would recommend starting with Jane Austen’s First Love, a more polished work.
Profile Image for Maria.
188 reviews51 followers
December 5, 2016
What would happen if somebody found by chance a manuscript written by Jane Austen and never read by anybody because hidden for hundreds of years in an old attic? And what if that manuscript contained the tale of a love story experienced by the English writer herself? It would be an indescribable emotion for all those who love Jane Austen! But thanks to Syrie James’ brilliant idea, all the Janeites can imagine how dear Jane’s life would have been if she had met -as her heroines did- her true love.

This is such a heart-wrenching book! It is beautiful, but there are a lot of sad moments. Of course, I was prepared to “suffer” a little because, knowing the real story of Jane Austen, I knew that most of the plot was fictional, but I cannot deny that while reading some scenes I dreamt of them to be true. I have always thought that Jane deserved a love story as enchanting and romantic as the ones she wrote about in her novels, and I am sure she met some people -some men- from whom she got inspiration to create characters like Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth and villains like Willoughby and Wickham.

In this manuscript there is anything a Janeite could wish for. Jane herself tells us about her life and her family’s problems after her father’s death. Alone with her sister Cassandra and her mother, Jane will have no home and will be forced to move constantly to her relatives and old acquaintances’ houses, stopping by Southampton, until her brother Edward will offer them Chawton Cottage where Jane will be able to start writing again in peace and quiet.

But there is not only this in these pages. There is more because Syrie James imagines for our dear Jane a unique love story. An encounter with a man that will change her life and will give her the perfect inspiration to pick up again some abandoned novels and bring them back to life. Mr. Ashford has in himself the main traits of almost all the Austen heroes (I really liked finding some of them throughout the story and experiencing somehow the emotions I felt while reading the novels where they are the protagonists) and thanks to him, Jane will perfect and finish “Sense and Sensibility” putting in it all of her experiences, her feelings and sufferings. Mr. Ashford believes in Jane’s talent and will do everything he can to make her dream come true. But, alas, as we know, Jane Austen will never get married so unlike her novels, in this book there is not that “happy ending” we all would have wanted for her!

Besides the references to the male characters of Austen’s books, we can find in this one some hints to the female characters as well. The most important in my opinion is the reference to Jane Bennet. In this story I think that Cassandra is the personification of the eldest Bennet sister. Jane Austen’s sister is kind, understanding, sweet and has always a positive opinion about anything. She never let bad news guide her decisions and influence her mood, but she always tries to find a reasonable explanation to everything. I like to think that Cassandra was really like that and this makes the relationship between Jane Austen and her sister even more special to me.

The author made a unique and extremely captivating work in this genre. Written in first person, with a strong allusion to the real Jane Austen’s style and wit, this book could easily tell a real story. Being able to find a lost manuscript written by Austen is a wonderful dream that, probably, will never come true but, in the meantime, do try to dream with this touching and definitely special story. “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen” is a book that every Janeite should have on their shelf!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Michaela Wood.
31 reviews20 followers
February 26, 2008
I cannot imagine anything more distressing than reading this book and continuing to be confused as to the real sentiments and affairs of the author. I do admire historical fiction but when you unconcernedly blend fact with fiction, so one cannot tell what has really occured, it is chaotic for those of us who would like to UNDERSTAND a little more about Jane Austen. Her books tell plenty about her imaginary life, I don't need someone else to steal her voice, robbing sentiments out of direct quotes from her books, biographies, and arranging them with no thought for the integrity of the books or the life story...it's like body-snatching! Furthermore biography; that depends on strident historical research with perhaps little flights of fancy that should bare scrutiny under an academic's eye, is all I need from the other end. Had there been a little less fact, or alot more, I might have enjoyed it. As it is, if you love butchery, here lies the torn body of Jane Austen.
Profile Image for Skarleth.
366 reviews10 followers
May 14, 2016
Este libro es una negación a la realidad que empecé a leer con ciertas (muchas) reservas. Es una ficción sobre lo que pudo ser la vida de Jane Austen aunque se podría decir que es lo que hubiéramos querido que fuera su vida.

Esta narrado en primera persona haciendo suposición de que como su nombre lo indica son Las Memorias Perdidas de Jane, como si estuviéramos leyendo de su diario privado. Cuenta supuestas vivencias que poco a poco la inspiran para escribir sus tan aclamadas obras que conocemos en la actualidad.

Ciertamente todo esto es falso pero llega un momento en pierdes de vista el hecho que fue una persona real y dejas de lado la precisión histórica para sumergirte en lo que va sucediendo en la historia; aunque esta totalmente claro de que no fueron así los hechos no puedo negar que en varias ocasiones deseé que fueran reales. Entre más se lee el libro mas se va apreciando lo tierno de la historia y va ganando el cariño que sentimos por la autora.

Les recomiendo leerlo sobre todo si han leído un par de sus libros, ademas puedo decir que es muy ligero ya que hay muchos diálogos y el tiempo pasa rápido en la trama.

Por cierto la portada es linda <3
Profile Image for Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*.
999 reviews167 followers
March 14, 2015
"Do you want to be a novelist?"

"It is all I have ever wanted."

His eyes locked with mine, as a sudden breeze stirred the branches of the trees above us.

"Then a published novelist is what you shall be, Miss Jane Austen."

I have always loved Jane Austen's works, but this book really enhanced that love. This author did a simply fantastic job with blending historical accuracies with her own ideas and creative impulses. It was absolutely brilliant. She created a characterization of Jane Austen that would please any aficionado of her writing. There were so many times while reading this that I forgot it was a novel and not an actual manuscript written by Austen herself. The author breathed life into Jane Austen, beloved by so many, and it was such a unique and amazing experience to be a part of that. By the end of the book, I felt as if I knew Jane as a friend, and had to sadly remind myself that it was a novel and not a non-fiction account of Jane's life!

If you are now or have ever been a fan of Jane Austen, I highly recommend reading this one!

"Every body has the right to seek true love, to believe that she can and should marry for love, at least once in her life, does she not? Must I sacrifice all my hopes?"
Profile Image for Brianna.
453 reviews11 followers
March 9, 2008
This was a page-turner, thanks only to Jane Austen's wonderful storylines.

I would not read this book again, because there was virtually no originality in it. I would also be offended, if I were Jane, at the idea that I'd lifted every one of my stories' events and characters and dialogues directly from happenings in my life.

It might have been more of a treat if there were any sort of suspense as to who each character in her life would turn out to resemble in her books, but there was no subtleties at all. Each character that comes in contact with Jane is obviously linked to a character in her novels the minute they open their mouth.
Profile Image for Bethany.
112 reviews10 followers
January 25, 2010
I have mixed feelings about this book.

On one hand I loved the romance in it. The author intertwines some of my favorite moments in Jane Austen's books into a wonderful love story that I found myself wishing could be true. Doesn't it seem fitting that one of the greatest author's of romance should be entitled to a little romance of her own?

On the other hand, I was somewhat bothered that the author used so much of Austen's story lines. Although it sucked me into Austen's world and made me want to read all of her books again I felt that it was a bit unoriginal. All of the greatest moments in THIS book were Austen's genius, not hers. Her genius comes from being able to intertwine those stories with facts of Jane Austen's life to make a romance that could actually be believable.

The language certainly did not echo Austen's enough, but I hardly expected that.

I would recommend it as a "cute book" and an "easy read."
Profile Image for Carrie Turansky.
Author 26 books1,384 followers
November 14, 2020
I listened to the audio version of this delightful novel and enjoyed it very much. It was fun to see how the author imagined the experiences in Jane's life and her secret and tragic romance. I wish they would make it into a movie. I think it would outshine Becoming Jane. The narrator did an excellent job bringing the characters to life. The research was spot on and so well woven in I almost believed the events were true . . . and maybe they were! This is a must read that will delight Jane Austen fans and all those who love Regency romance.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews432 followers
September 3, 2015
This book is tagged as historical fiction but it is more fiction than it is historical. That's not to say that it is bad fiction because it was quite good. If you are a Jane Austen fan then you probably will like this. It was a light, quick, fun read, a nice change of pace from Dickens and Zola.
Profile Image for Meredith (Austenesque Reviews).
939 reviews315 followers
November 25, 2016
The Man Worthy to Win Jane Austen’s Love

TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Biographical Fiction, Jane Austen as a Main Character

SETTING: Our story is recounted from memory beginning in the year 1807, and takes place in many towns and counties in England.


Remember that story about the unnamed gentleman Jane Austen met at the seaside and how Cassandra believed that gentleman “to be worthy to possess and likely to win her sister’s love?” Well, what if someone found a hidden secret memoir that revealed all the secrets about this mysterious man and his encounters with Jane Austen…


- Fulfilled My Dearest Hope: I’m a hopeless romantic. I can’t deny it. And I’ve always held onto the hope that my favorite authoress somehow experienced a love similar to the ones she bestowed upon many of her characters. Not because I think she must have experienced love herself to have such inspired insight into all matters of the heart, but because I want it for her. I want to know she felt all the amazing and joyful feelings that finding true love brings. Thanks to Syrie James, we have the chance to envision that hope realized as she gives Jane Austen a love story that she deserves.

- Mr. Frederick Ashford: Our unnamed gentleman easily won my heart during his first encounter with dear Jane. With his charming character, engaging manners, quick mind, and warm congeniality he seemed to unite some of the best hero qualities in existence, and yet he had some flaws. I found him to be everything I would want for Jane, but what I loved most about him was his excited support of her dreams of becoming a novelist. I loved how he was encouraging and honest with her about her writing, and how important it was to him that she not give up.

- Plausible, Thoughtful, Engrossing: I really appreciated how Syrie James crafted her story to fit in what we know of Jane Austen’s life. I’m sure making it fit the proper timeline and the inclusion of known events and travels made constructing this story a little bit challenging, but in my opinion it was very well executed. The encounters with Mr. Ashford were believable and their whole relationship felt authentic and in accord with the time period. I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction because I was so easily swept up in the mindset that these events really did happen!

- Fact, Fiction, and Extras: The back matter at the end of the story was extensive and disclosed what was truth and what was fiction, information about Jane Austen’s life, discussion questions, and an interview with Syrie James. It was really interesting to learn what really happened and what was the author’s imagination.

- A Lovely Homage: I loved seeing the nods to Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility in this tale. While it is indisputable that Jane Austen has a very vivid and creative imagination, it is plausible and fun to imagine that Jane Austen encountered some people and situations similar to those that we later see in her novels. Like Mr. Collins, come on… I bet she knew someone just a little bit like him!


That Syrie James can’t make this story become a reality, I really do wish it was true!


In her first brilliant Austen-Inspired novel, Syrie James delivers an expressive and poignant love story for Jane Austen. Faced with the daunting challenge of emulating Jane Austen’s voice and constructing a plausible story around real-life events and people, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen wonderfully showcases Syrie James’s creativity and skills as an author. A compelling and enchanting read!
Profile Image for Rebecca May.
Author 1 book31 followers
July 30, 2014
To start off with, I must say that I absolutely loved this book – just as I loved the movie Becoming Jane. Anyone who doesn’t know a thing about Jane Austen’s life probably should not read any further in this review, though you are welcome to if you wish.

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen mirrors the tone and style of the film Becoming Jane - which personally makes me think that both film and book have adequately and accurately captured Jane Austen’s character from what we know of her. The Lost Memoirs is a book that you know cannot end at all well, because anyone who knows a thing about Jane Austen knows that she never married, but the beauty of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen is that is makes you believe, even just for a little while, that everything is going to turn out okay for poor Jane. Unfortunately for us, Syrie James seems to have come to pretty much the same conclusion about Jane’s life and character that the writer of Becoming Jane did, which is a real tear-jerker and always makes you wonder whether you would do the same thing.

I guess I just wish I could find an author as talented as Syrie James at capturing Jane’s character, who could just once give our beloved Jane Austen a happy, believable ending – even if in the end we have to come back to reality and remember she didn’t marry. (Personally I was hoping for a secret marriage myself).

Syrie James’ masterpiece is also very clever – sometimes you find yourself going to the authors note just to double-check that the story isn’t real. The book is delightful in that us Austen fans can recognize true figures from Jane’s life, and you feel that little jump of the heart and feel wonderfully clever when you realize that this part of Jane Austen’s life or experiences (unfortunately all speculation, but whatever, it feels real) is what inspired a certain part of her stories. Of course, there are the other times when you gasp and hope that Syrie James isn’t going to be faithful to certain parts of certain stories – because those of us who are familiar with Jane’s stories know where James is going and hope beyond hope that Jane will escape the fate of her characters. Of course, the true tragedy in The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen is that Jane does go through a lot of the painful experiences of her characters, but yet only gets to spend a little time in the pure happiness that her characters always achieve.

However, I must note that despite these wonderful instances of realizing things and feeling your superiority and intelligence (:D), there are times that James kind of beats you over the head with certain parallels – for example, the way that she brought in the “truth universally acknowledged” line just made me want to cringe. While I think of it, I have to say, the cover of this book is quite pretty.

Anyway. Moving on. Much of the storyline of The Lost Memoirs is taken from Sense and Sensibility, intermingled with a lot of other clever details from Jane’s other novels and true facts from her life. The hero of the novel is called Mr Ashton, and according to the author Ashton is the closest in character to Mr Knightley of Emma. I haven’t yet read Emma for myself, but if Syrie James claims about her hero are true, I have a suspicion I will fall head over heels for Knightley, and he will be second only to Colonel Brandon in my list of favourite heroes - which, by the way, is getting harder to rank now that I’m reading more of the Austen novels – Help! :D

I really have no other avenue of review for The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. My principal form of review is usually through the characters, but in The Lost Memoirs readers will discover for themselves that the characters are combinations of the real people/characters and the characters representing or borrowed from Jane’s novels. I suppose all I have left to say in commendation is that Syrie James’ description of beautiful scenery is very delightful, worthy of being placed in a book about Jane Austen, as is the usual brilliant social scenes, coming with the gowns and deep conversations of the day.

So, in conclusion… a book highly commendable for anyone interested in Jane Austen, or in Regency romance novels.
30 reviews1 follower
June 3, 2009
This was a nice read that is supposedly the lost diaries of Jane Austen written during her last illness before she died recounting her one true love story that of course didn't pan out. I had read another biography last year about Jane Austen so this book was interesting seeing how the author portrayed Jane and her family from what I read in the biography.
Jane and her siser and mother are indebted to their livlihood to the sons of the family. Jane hasn't written in years because she needs the peace and happiness of country living in order to be able to write( this was true of her). She visits Lyme with her brother and when trying to climb some steep steps she is saved by a handsome stranger( hints of Persuasion). She discovers this man is known to a friend of her brother's and they meet again and discover they have much in common. Unfortnately circumstances make it so they don't meet again for years.
Jane, her sister and mother move to a cottage fitted up on their brother's land and Jane is content at last. She meets the handsome stranger and he insprires her to rework Sense and Sensibility. They fall in love and he helps her get her first nove published.
They were going to be married but it turns out that if they were to marry he would lose all his estate which has come to debt through his father's spending. Jane gives him up for him to marry the local girl from a wealthy family that will save the estate that he has cherished since birth.

Jane Austen may have had a sad life at times but her works will live for all eternity. I know no author could come close to Austen but this was still a pleasant read.This book really made me want to reread all Jane Austen's books.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
25 reviews
October 30, 2010
Competently written and readable. Why, then, only three stars? First, the people who will want to read this book already know a great deal about Jane Austen. So -- the footnotes (in a memoir!) are not only redundant but seem cute and intrusive.
Second, though the book smoothly incorporates known facts from JA's life, it misses as fiction, most importantly because of a major plot inconsistency half way through. This inconsistency is then, incredibly, repeated -- all of which reflects a weakness in developing JA as a fictional "character" (I don't want to add a spoiler, but please note: in P&P, Elizabeth Bennett, who believes she despises Mr. Darcy, still reads the letter he writes to her. Such curiosity was part of Lizzie's character and probably a great part of Jane Austen's). JA's "voice" in this tale never quite rings true.
Third, and relating to both one and two, the romance in this story is given only a "walk on" role (and an unbelievably motivational one as well). Yet uncovering such a romance is the ostensible reason for writing this volume at all. This is dissatisfying since all Jane Austen's novels are, at heart, love stories.
Syrie James is a good writer with an interesting "voice" of her own -- witness her "author's note" at the back of the book. I wish she had written a nonfiction bio, even short -- like Carol Shields' -- instead. There's always room for more of those as well.
Profile Image for LadyJ.
Author 1 book19 followers
August 28, 2012
"Imperdibile per gli appassionati di Jane Austen."
Hai voglia.

Mi duole il cuore a parlare male di qualcosa quando c'è di mezzo Jane Austen, ma mi duole ancor di più dover parlare di questo romanzetto inutile. Quindi esprimerò il mio giudizio nella maniera più concitata possibile e spero che la mia recensione basti a saziare la curiosità di chi si accinge a leggerla. Ebbene, si tratta di un insalata scadente condita con fatti estrapolati dalla lettere di Jane Austen, fatti estrapolati dai romanzi della medesima, con l'aggiunta di luoghi comuni da far venire i brividi più un pizzico di malriuscita emulazione dello stile austeniano.
Ho pensato per tutto il tempo a quanto debba sentirsi offesa la povera Jane nell'oscurità della sua bara. Io dico, se la stimatissima scrittrice, ai suo tempi, volle che tutta la sua vita privata finisse in un caminetto, perché mai la signora James si è sentita così in dovere di compiere un simile austenicidio?
Ad ogni modo, prego la cara Signorina Austen, di non angustiarsi e di perdonare questa scrittrice, giacché non sa quel che dice e non sa quel che fa.
Voglia perdonarla soprattutto perché anche i selvaggi scrivono e nessuno può impedir loro di farlo. E so che Darcy, su questo punto in special modo, mi darebbe manforte. Altroché.
Profile Image for Sarah.
431 reviews108 followers
July 27, 2011
This is really more of a 2.5, but I'm feeling generous today, so I rounded up.

My biggest complaint is that I found Mr. Ashford, Jane's romantic interest, to be fairly boring. If he's boring, the romance is boring, and if the romance is boring, then I'm not really all that crushed when it doesn't work out (spoiler alert, I guess, although everyone knows Jane Austen died unmarried, so I hope I'm not wrong in assuming that I'm not ruining the story for someone or anything...). So that made the book a little meh for me.

However, it was a nice, light, entertaining read -- the writing isn't nearly as witty as Jane Austen, and the style is kind of a pale imitation, but it's Jane freaking Austen, no one really writes like she does, so I won't fault the author for that. One thing I did really love is that the book touched on how much Jane's family and friends loved her.

A fun book, worth a read, but as far as fiction about Jane Austen goes, I prefer the movie Becoming Jane -- James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy is swoon-worthy and much more interesting as a love interest than Mr. Ashford.
Profile Image for natalie.
245 reviews
April 18, 2008
I wanted to hate this book. I've been so possessive of Jane Austen since I read Northanger Abbey 20 years ago. How can everyone love her as much as I do? No one else listens to the bands I love, they don't go see my favorite movies. It doesn't make any sense. I feel that something so personal and private to me is out there for the whole world to take and I don't like it. I vowed to never read all these Jane Austen spin-off novels. Anyway, this book was alright. I think the girl in me that loves a good romance enjoyed this book but the obviousness of all the Jane Austen stuff got on my nerves. Does that make sense?
Profile Image for Teresa.
580 reviews128 followers
September 18, 2016
A good read but I find it hard to read fictional books about Jane Austen herself. I did this one for a challenge. We really don't know a lot about her and reading fictional accounts doesn't really make it any better. However, if you are happy with these kind of accounts this book is for you.
Profile Image for Sheila Majczan.
2,355 reviews155 followers
October 10, 2020
This is one of those stories that draws you in slowly and then captivates you. The author does such an excellent job of mixing fact with fiction that for just a few moments I had to stop and think and remind myself that this was a novel.

Yes, the facts of Jane, her sister, Cassandra, and her mother's moves after Mr. Austen's retirement and then his death are all there. As well we are told (or rehear) which brother helped, where they moved, who they met, nieces & nephews born, etc. All is told from Jane's POV as we "read from found journals" about her life and her struggles to write her stories and get them published.

But the angst, the new information about Jane's life, has to do with Frederick Ashford, a man she meets and is instantly drawn to during a trip to Bath. Then she is puzzled by his withdrawal without a word. Even more unsettling is the fact that on more than one occasion he seems to have something very important, very serious, to say to her but events intervene and he doesn't speak. Instead, twice, she receives a letter, which she has returned to him...unopened.

Part of what captivated me was reading of people and events which Jane then incorporated into her stories. Mr. Collins is written after Jane meets another vicar who acts just like the man in canon...even to proposing to her. There is more than one example of this in the story. At the same time, Jane doesn't want any of the people she models her characters on to read her stories and know they are whom she is writing about.

I am not going to give details/spoilers here. There is just too much interwoven to even attempt to do so. I, do however, highly recommend that you read this marvelously creative story.
Profile Image for Maria Grazia.
192 reviews58 followers
November 2, 2010
In Becoming Jane young Jane Austen is hooked by dashing Tom Lefroy and even agrees to an elopment. In Miss Austen Regrets , mature Jane regrets missing the chance of marrying and looks melancholicly at her niece’s love life . In the beautiful book I ‘ve just finished reading , THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN, Syrie James imagines quite mature Jane in love with and loved by a rich, handsome and fascinating Mr Ashworth. Their love story has got traits of the stories we all well know and love: Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.
The novel , of course, ends as anyone can expect since we all know that Jane never married ( and Ms James researched every detail so accurately). The blend of biographical elements - based on documents and letters - with the events and characters from the novels results into an amiable page turner, highly recommendable and, especially, believable! Never was fiction so near to the truth and this is exactly how I’ve always interpreted Jane's decision not to marry:

1. She must have loved to be so good at writing her very special love stories
2. She must have loved someone she couldn’t marry to be so skillfull at describing that situation and the consequent suffering.
Mr Ashworth is a unique character because he is a real Austen hero but, furthermore, he combines three of Jane’s most loved male characters: Darcy, Edward Ferrars and Willoughby (though Mr Ashworth shares his first name with Captain Wentworth’s, Frederick). He lives at Pembroke, an incredibly huge and beautiful residence in Derbyshire which closely reminds of Pemberley. He is a baronet and , apparently, the heir of a huge patrimony . They meet in Lyme and he saves Jane from falling and hurting herself. But their relationship is not simple and straightforward. Ashworth , like Edward Ferrars, becomes awkward in his attempt at wooing Jane and the reason is the same: he also hides a secret engagement. When Jane discovers Ashworth’s secret, she is terribly disappointed and suffers desperately, like Marianne when Willoughby turns her down .
It was such a verosimile scenario that I had to make an effort to convince myself I was reading fiction and not a biographical novel, more than once, while reading. It is historical fiction based on some documented facts, but so well written that, as I said above, it sounds even truer than the truth!
Have a lookat my complete review on My Jane Austen Book Club http://bit.ly/dpuULE
Profile Image for Ahnya.
378 reviews6 followers
April 11, 2015
I think Syrie James is brilliant. I have only read 2 of her books, but I think her writing is amazing.

The book basically weaves Jane's real life with characters, and situations from her books. Although totally fictional it was fun to think Jane actually met a Mr. Collins, or had to endure an awkward moment like Lizzie did when she was visiting Pemberly, and Darcy came home unexpectedly. Even though I knew how the story ended I still found myself rooting for a different outcome.

If you are a Jane Austen fan I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for CindySR.
502 reviews
July 23, 2023
An imagined alternate history of Jane Austen's love life. I hope she had some romantic love outside her imagination. I hope she didn't have any emotional pain along with it as she did in the very quick ending of this story.

I thought there were too many descriptions of the city, gardens, houses, etc. but on the whole, I enjoyed the way it was written. It could have happened!
184 reviews
April 17, 2019
I enjoyed this story. It made the life of Jane Austin just a little more bittersweet. While I knew where the story was headed, it still hurt.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,981 reviews1,991 followers
May 3, 2011
The Book Report: Every Austenian knows Jane went quiet for 10 years, then produced what is arguably the finest body of novelistic work to come out of nineteenth-century England, then died. Nobody knows poo-diddly about Miss Jane's romantic life, or even if there ever was one, in large part because Jane's sister Cassandra went wild with the scissors and made like a Nazi with a Torah (burn, baby, burn) to make sure none of Jane's letters or diaries (if any) survived unexpurgated. Cassandra doubtless felt she was doing the pathologically shy Jane a service by making sure The Ages never got hold of her innermost secrets. The Ages, however, feel most hard-done-by, and to redress the disgruntlement that our own nosy day and time feels, screenwriter and novelist Syrie James has stepped in to provide us with a startlingly plausible and well-executed "recovered memoir" plugging up the egregious gaps in our knowledge of Miss Austen's private life.

My Reivew: Depending on what one is expecting when reading the book, it will either be a genuine pleasure to immerse one's self into, or an annoying pastiche of Austen's crystalline, ringing prose. I fall into Camp A.

No one else is Jane Austen, so drop that ax at the door, no grinding allowed. Yes, the authoress has the *gall* to present her story as Austen's own voice telling her own tale; get over it. No one can remotely pretend to be deceived by the narrative frame, so no one can reasonably judge the book by the prose yardstick of Austen herself. Stop it! Quit bellyaching about the pretenders, the laborers in the pasticherie of Austenland. They exist because Austen is a nonpareil, a monadnock of literary talent. That they are not up to her standard of talent is simply *irrelevant* and those who snort derisively that only *true* Austen prose will satisfy them should carry this thought about with them: "So? Who asked you? Go point your nose into some *real* Austen, then."

The rest of us can now get about enjoying Syrie James's full-bodied claret-jug of a book. The memoir tells the tale of Jane Austen's one great love, invented by James out of a one-line reference to some passion of Jane's by Cassandra, many years after the fact; and some clever literary sleuthing in Austen's work. Brava, Miss James! How nicely done!

And also to be praised is James's fidelity to the known facts of Austen's life. At no point does Miss James deviate from the historical record *where one exists.* This by itself would win my praise for the effort. But combine that with a truly Austenian imagination, and a pleasant facility with the language, and one has a rare thing: A novel that *should* be true.

Why not spend a leisurely spring-shading-into-summer afternoon with Jane, Cassandra, Mother, and the miscellany that make up Regency England's finest writer's world? This is, I declare, a most worthy enterprise in which to engage yourself.
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