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First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  5,675 ratings  ·  1,137 reviews
A thrilling literary mystery co-starring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published October 16th 2014 by Viking
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Rebecca Same art, although there is one book added to the stack in the version used for the Book of Speculation.

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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  5,675 ratings  ·  1,137 reviews

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Start your review of First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen
This novel is ridiculous. The writing could be cliched and cringe-worthy, and I came close to abandoning the book several times. If the story had not involved Jane Austen I would not have finished it.

Despite these irritations, there were a few things I liked about "First Impressions." It opens in 1796 in Hampshire, with Jane Austen meeting Richard Mansfield, an elderly clergyman. Eventually the two become good friends, sharing ideas about books and literature. We see the fictional version of Ja
I would have liked this more if Sophie had not been such a complete idiot! Really she was a very unlikeable and even moronic main character. The rest was good. I liked the idea of Jane finding inspiration for her novels from a friend and I really enjoyed all the references to books and libraries. In fact all the chapters about Jane were interesting but then we were inflicted with the terrible Sophie which pretty much ruined it for me. Not a bad book but not a very good one either.
Susan Johnson
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you are a bibliophile you will enjoy this book. As you enter the world of second hand books with that old, musty, moldy smell in the search of a rare Jane Austen draft of "Pride and Prejudice", you are immediately caught up in a rarefied atmosphere where books matter. The story is told in two parts. One is a twenty something Jane Austen and her friendship with a 80 year old curate, Richard Mansfield. The other part is told by modern day Sophie Collingwood who is hot on the trail of Jane Auste ...more
Hannah • So Obsessed With
May 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Note: I stopped reading First Impressions at 20%.
Contains spoiler-y comments on the beginning of the book.

First Impressions was one of my most anticipated fall releases. As a HUGE Jane Austen fan, I wanted to read it as soon as I saw that it was "a novel of old books, unexpected love, and Jane Austen." It sounds like everything I love, and I was thrilled when I got a copy on NetGalley. As much as I love Austen's work, I also enjoy spin-offs and variations. I'm not an Austen purist - I'm totally
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: balderdash, mystery
It is a truth universally acknowledged that I came very close to running my car into a telephone pole more than once while listening to this atrocious book just to make it stop.

One of my favorite things about my job is the wonderful uninterrupted time my commute gives me to listen to audio books. This is a pleasure I have not been afforded in many years so I tend to be super choosy about what makes its way into my CD player. As a genuine fan of Charlie Lovett's The Bookman’s Tale a literary myst
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a slightly different take on the Jane Austen story. Alternate chapters tell the hypothetical story of Jane's friendship with an elderly pastor and his influence on her as a young writer and a modern day mystery surrounding an old book.

The modern story is old through the eyes of Sophie Collingwood, Oxford scholar and book lover who becomes embroiled in the mystery when she starts work in an antiquarian bookshop. Woven into the mystery is the unexpected death of Sophie's beloved Uncle Bert
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
I adored this book. I simply didn't want to put it down. I could identify with the main protagonist, Sophie, with her love of books and Jane Austen. I think this is a book that any bibliophile would appreciate. Especially when Sophie and her Uncle Bertram talked of their love and appreciation of reading and books in general. I liked that there was a little mystery involved, too. Even though Sophie did make some stupid mistakes, I was still rooting for her. And, of course, the thought that Jane A ...more
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“A good book is like a good friend. It will stay with you for the rest of your life. When you first get to know it, it will give you excitement and adventure, and years later it will provide you with comfort and familiarity. And best of all, you can share it with your children or your grandchildren or anyone you love enough to let into its secrets.”

First Impressions is the fourth novel by American writer, teacher and playwright, Charlie Lovett. After Sophie Collingwood’s beloved Uncle Bertram di
Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane Austen is one of literary histories most influential writers. Her small number novels have not only proved very popular, but she is also regarded as a great social commentator of her time. First Impressions is one of many books, plays, movies and TV shows inspired by her life and works.

The best way i can describe the authors works is modern day classic literary mysteries. Alternating between present day England and Austen's 18th-19th Hampshire, Sophie Collingwood is a book loving college gr
Jill Hutchinson
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I love reading books, I love collecting and owning books, and am a fan of Jane Austen. That indicates that this book should be at least a 4 star read. But it was not to be. Much has been said by other reviewers with whom I agree so I need not repeat it except to add a few comments.

The sections in which Miss Austen is conversing with her aged friend about her writing are a plus as they do capture the style of conversation of the time, stilted and polite. But I am hardly convinced that an 80 year
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
The best, and only good part, of this novel is that it mentions other books. Books I probably should have read instead of this one! While I won't go outright and say I hated it, there were many times I wished to throw it out of a window, preferably a few stories up. As a book lover, just like the characters here, that sounds almost like blasphemy!

First, there are two stories told here that intertwine. One is the story of Jane Austen and the secret love she held for an 80 year old clergyman. The
The Lit Bitch
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Earlier this year I read another book by Lovett, The Bookman’s Tale, and was turned on to a new sub genre for me….literary thrillers. And that’s what this book was written for…..bibliophiles.

The suggestion that Pride and Prejudice could have been plagiarized is compelling and seductive, not to mention controversial. Lovett makes no claims that this book is historically accurate, but he approaches it in a way that is more suggestive….more of a ‘what if’.

I think you have to approach this novel wit
I primarily listened to this book over a few weeks when I was falling asleep at night or during insomnia periods. It was really good for this so I guess that should have warned me haha.

This is a dual storyline novel in which the main character in the past is Jane Austen and the m/c in the present is a British girl who loves Jane Austen and books in general. There is a little love story off to the side, which I usually love. And it's mostly a book about books, so I thought it would be all good.
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
I got an ARC of this book via the First to Read program by Penguin Books. This is my most honest review.

I just finished reading this book and I can only say, "Thank you, Universe, for ending this torture!" I love Jane Austen, I love her books, and I always try to read all kinds of books based on her novels. But this book just made me angry. And not only because it was implied in the book that Jane Austen could have been a plagiarist. The writing could have been better, and the story taking place
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, 2014-for-fun
3.5. The formulaic is always forgiven when a book is really a love letter to literature.
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brain-candy
While not necessarily a classic, what this book did for me is open me up to the world of original source material and book knowledge. What I mean by that is this: What makes a book valuable? How can you tell the different between first and second editions? If it’s expensive does that necessarily mean it’s valuable? And in doing research, is it that much more accurate to have the original documents than rely on a book that is second hand information that’s been filtered through another author’s o ...more
Sheri Horton
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I was so excited when I won an ARC of this book, as I loved his prior book, The Bookman's Tale, so much. This one is even better, combining my passions for book collecting, mysteries and Jane Austen all in one. I couldn't put it down, and once finished felt so much joy that I had read this and so much sadness I had finished it. It is one that will stay with me for a long while. I may just sit here and hold it for a time...... ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
.5 stars

For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

The course of Austen fanaticism never did run smooth. Charlie Lovett wrote The Bookman’s Tale, which I’ve not yet read, and which is, by most accounts, quite a good novel. The fact that he was writing an Austen-inspired novel called First Impressions could not fail to miss my notice, and I could not possibly fail to read it. Surely, this novel would be legit, a true celebration of Jane Austen, clever and well-writte
David Eppenstein
I have never read anything by Jane Austen. That hasn't been by conscious choice, it's just something that has never occurred to me to do. I have seen bits and pieces of movies based on her books but never watched one beginning to end. What little I have picked up or seen regarding Austen's work was enough to tell me that I probably wouldn't be interested in her writing. So why read a book that is based upon Jane Austen's work? Because the author has written two other books whose plots have been ...more
Emma Flanagan
Before we go too far, let me just state I love Jane Austen. When I was 6 years old the BBC broadcast the now definitive version of Pride and Prejudice. From the moment I sat down that first Sunday evening to watch it with my mother I was hooked. I re-watched the series so many times I wore the tape out and as soon as I was old enough began reading the novels. Over the years I’ve also read a number of adaptation and spin-offs, some of which were excellent, others less so (thankfully none have bee ...more
Judy Lesley
Sep 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery, jane-austen
I do count myself as an admirer of the works of Jane Austen, but that doesn't mean I can't accept variations or interpretations or extensions of her novels as long as they make common sense and are well done. So on the question of common sense, why did Sophie Collingwood's thoughts immediately turn to murder when a death occurred? Not one sniff of supposition, not one shred of evidence, never a question from anyone in authority, but Sophie immediately knew. I got plenty of eye-rolling exercise w ...more
Diane Challenor
My first impression of Charlie Lovett’s “First Impressions” was positive and that impression played out well throughout the book. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a book about books, one of my favorite genres. The story switches chapter by chapter between Jane Austen’s world and the life of a present day character, Sophie Collingwood. It’s easy to read and flows at a good pace, not too fast and not too slow.

It wasn’t long after my reading was underway that the cynic in me undermined several of the ch
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Copy provided by GoodReads First Reads program.

This was the perfect book to snuggle under the covers with for the entire afternoon. I got up only to replenish my tea and to make a bit of risotto. The risotto and tea made it back in to bed with me so I could continue reading in ultimate comfort.

I think that First Impressions is a love letter to devoted bibliophiles. You get a mystery of a literary nature, love, and of course, the dream of almost any book reader: the inheritance a flat in London
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book, but alas, I found I did not. I was entertained and amused by the chapters which took place in Jane Austen's period but the further I progressed in the book the more I grew to dislike Sophie and the entire modern day plot line. I did not think I would find a character with such terrible judgment and poor choice of actions and associates in this book. As a result, I had to take an average of what I would have ranked the Jane chapters v the Sophie chapters. ...more
3.75 stars

This dual narrative novel tackles Jane Austen's life, the history of printing and publishing, modern romance and intrigue. In 1796 in Hampshire, a clergyman's daughter named Jane Austen happens across a rumpled old man sitting on a stile hunched over reading. Her first impression is that he is a comical figure to be put in a novel she may write one day. His first impression is that she is a rather dull and impetuous young lady. Happily their first impressions are wrong and they soon di
Cynthia Egbert
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I wish I could give this one 3. 5 stars. It is not quite a four star read but I did love it. I realize that many do not care for this one but since I am considered "juvenile" in my relationship with the works of Jane Austen perhaps it is not a surprise that I enjoyed this one. That being said, the idiotic heroine, Sophie, rivals Lydia Bennet for being the most stupid woman in literature when it comes to romance and that is grating but the story still swept me along, both stories actually, since ...more
Portia Giles
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jane Austen fans are in for a treat in this literary mystery cum romance modeled on the beloved novels of Jane Austen. One nice twist is the addition of the parallel storyline about Jane Austen’s fictitious relationship with an older clergyman who helps encourage her writing aspirations. Many of the questions raised in the accompanying modern day literary mystery and hunt for a rare edition are answered for the reader in flashbacks to the year 1796 and following. This device allows the reader to ...more
Corrie Ann
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
There was so much that I loved about this book! I was particularly fond of the switching back and forth between the past and present, between Jane Austen's and Sophie Collingwood's stories, it had me constantly dying to see where each story was heading. I love a good mystery and this one was fun and exciting - I enjoyed unravelling the murder mystery, the First Impressions mystery, and whether or not Winston is really a just a sexy scoundrel. Sophie was a special character. Her relationship and ...more
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
This wasn't my kind of book. I like Jane Austen and her books, but I don't feel the deep abiding love for them that some possess. If you possess such love, you may enjoy this book.

Other than the fact I didn't get the whole Jane Austen mystery here, the story suffered. It was kind of fluffy, shallow, and slow.

I listened to the audio and that was what I enjoyed the most. Jane Entwhistle narrated it and I love her.
Izabella (Pages Full of Stars)

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"A good book is like a good friend. It will stay with you for the rest of your life. When you first get to know it, it will give you excitement and adventure, and years later it will provide you with comfort and familiarity. "

It looks like I'm having quite bad luck with the books that I'm chosing recently, but sadly First Impressions also disappointed me. It started well and I was truly intrigued by the promise of the mystery surrounding Jane Aus
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I was born in Winston-Salem, NC and grew up as the child of an English professor. We spent our summers in the rural North Carolina mountains, so I felt an early affinity for the countryside. I was educated at Summit School, Woodberry Forest School (VA), and Davidson College (NC) and in 1984 went into the antiquarian book business with my first wife, Stephanie. About the same time I began to seriou ...more

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“A good book is like a good friend. It will stay with you for the rest of your life. When you first get to know it, it will give you excitement and adventure, and years later it will provide you with comfort and familiarity. And best of all, you can share it with your children or your grandchildren or anyone you love enough to let into its secrets.” 46 likes
“If you mail a rare stamp it becomes worthless. If you drink a rare bottle of wine, you're left with some recycling. But if you read a rare book it's still there, it's still valuable, and it's achieved the full measure of it's being. A book is to read, whether it's worth five pounds or five thousand pounds” 31 likes
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