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Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor

(Jane Austen Mysteries #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  5,814 ratings  ·  683 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 E ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 2nd 1996 by Crimeline (first published 1996)
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Ladie I didn't because I couldn't get them in order at my library. However I went to amazon and read the preface to the first one before reading others. Tha…moreI didn't because I couldn't get them in order at my library. However I went to amazon and read the preface to the first one before reading others. That sets up the author's basic premise that she's working from long lost journals and letters of Jane's to reconstruct these mysteries.(less)

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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  5,814 ratings  ·  683 reviews

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Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Jane Austen, having recently refused Mr. Biggs-Whiter (24 hours after accepting him), goes to visit a "dearest friend", the Countess of Scargrave. While celebrating her friend's marriage, the Earl of Scargrave DIES. Followed a few days later by the Countess's maid. And everyone knows what that means: JANE AUSTEN, ON THE CASE.

1. omg wtf this book.

2. There's an intro chapter that tries to introduce the idea that in a locked trunk in someone's attic are all the missing papers of Jane Austen's lif
Mar 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
love this book. The idea of Jane Austen being a amateur detective is so cool
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor- Jane Austen Mysteries # 1 by Stephanie Barron is a 1996 Crimeline publication.

Although I am a big fan of Jane Austen, I have steadfastly avoided all novels that feature the author as a sleuth or any other sort of fictional character. However, I picked one of these mysteries up at a library sale, thinking that for fifty cents I could at least give it a try.

As fate would have it, the book I picked up was the third book in the series. Hoping against
Carole (in Canada)
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: JAFF, Mystery
Shelves: favorites, mystery
This is the first of the Jane Austen Mystery series and I was very much entertained and delighted with it. I do love a good historical mystery series and I do love Jane Austen, so for me it was a match made in book heaven. Why it has taken me so long to start this series is beyond me!

The basic premise of the book is well explained in the description, however, there is an interesting tidbit not explained. Namely, Jane has accepted and then refused the offer of marriage from Mr. Bigg-Wither of Ma
Jan 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This mystery started a bit slowly, but I quickly found it to be quite compelling. Jane Austen is invited to spend the holidays with a dear friend who was lately married when a tragic death occurs. It was soon discovered to be murder, and Jane's friend the Countess is accused of killing her much-older husband of only three months. The Countess charges Jane to discover the identity of the real murderer, and Jane discovers clue after clue which seemingly leads to greater confusion than greater clar ...more
I read this years ago when it first came out. Also have read Jane and the Stillroom Maid because its setting is Chatsworth and I had recently been there and Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas was Christmas read. Decided I wanted to start at the beginning. Planning on reading entire series this year - Jane and the Year 2020 is the name of my challenge. Off to a good start. Fun read! Like the footnotes that explain things.

Linda Aull
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteryormurder
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
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical, regency
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
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Ponderous, cumbersome, slow-witted. This is not Miss Austen. Barron has given it a go but, like most others, she has failed. There were a couple of passages that almost showed an Austen-like crispness & amusement, but they were few & far between. The Jane Austen in these pages showed very little in the way of wit & perspicacity. None of the characters showed much merit, particularly Isobel - ugh!

I have to agree with Kris' review, except for the wanting to read the next one. I'll have to think ab
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have found my new favorite British cozy mystery series! To say that I absolutely loved this book is an understatement! Jane Austen as an amateur detective, what's not to love?!? The novel is a delight furthermore for its historical accuracy and footnotes that educate the reader about Regency England. What's cool to boot is that the author is American! It is so great to find a series that combines my obsessions with Jane Austen and mysteries that is so well written. I cannot wait to read all of ...more
Amanda Woodlee
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this after stumbling upon a later book in the series at a Friends of the Library $1/bag day of a book sale. I was so stunned at how much I liked it that I had my library borrow this first book of the series for me and was not disappointed. They’re wonderful! Being a big Jane Austen fan, I was very skeptical and feared it might rely too heavily on the gimmick of its premise or chafe my eyes with pretentious dialogue and failed attempts to mimic Miss A’s wit, but I was pleased, if surprised ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Miss Jane Austen, spinster, of Bath is visiting her dear friend Isobel, the new Countess of Scargrave during the holiday season. Jane looks forward to enjoying a holiday house party celebrating her friend's recent nuptials to the older Earl of Scargrave, only something is amiss. Isobel seems unhappy. She is being pestered to sell her land in the West Indies to Lord Harold Towbridge, a disreputable seeming character. Lord Scargrave's haughty heir, Lord Fitzroy Payne, looks at Isobel in a very un- ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
To be honest, I only persevered with this book because a good friend of mine highly recommended it - & Chris & I have similar tastes in literature. The first third of the book felt like Barron had taken sentences of Austen & Georgette Heyer & strung them them together in an attempt to make a story. & throughout the book the intrepid Jane does things that I don't think a gently bred woman of her era would do. For example:

(view spoiler)
Emma Rose Ribbons
Reread in May 2020 - a very solid mystery! The plot is easy to follow and very character-driven, which I love. Some of Jane Austen's quotes from her letters and novels make it into the plot but it's not overbearing at all and it feels more like a wink to the reader. A very enjoyable series, I'm so glad I picked it up again, I'll read the rest for sure!

Excellent plot, characterization and writing. Not sure including Jane Austen was necessary but it sure is lovely to be acquainted with a lot of
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it
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).
Eric Tanafon
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable mystery, and Jane with her keen skills of social observation makes a more plausible historical detective than some. I appreciate that the author, with few slips, maintains a style similar to Jane's own--she doesn't fall into the trap of having nineteenth-century characters talk like they just got back from shopping at the local mall. ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Good mystery element - but attempting to write in the voice of Jane Austen is ... ambitious.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although it started slow, this mystery turned into a real winner! read it all in one day! hard to put down!
Mandy Dimins
I guess the book was... OK?! I kinda lost interest in it at about the 60% mark and scanned through the rest of it. The mystery was not very engaging, the twists were not super twisty, but I'll give it to the author that my initial guesses for the murderer were wrong.

I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen and also really enjoy classic British literature from that time period, so I'm not unfamiliar with how convoluted English writing could be from that era. However, the author dialed it up to 11 when she w
I must say I absolutely love Jane Austen, and I’m only sad that she wasn’t able to write more novels to grace posterity with. Barron does an excellent job writing in Austen’s style, which means that occasionally there are a few long-winded and stilted passages that my brain tends to wander from as I’m reading, though they’re well-balanced by other passages that cause my eyes to fly across the page in excitement. Barron really captures the whole feel of an Austen novel; I could see in my mind’s e ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 2.5 stars

There's no denying this book is very well written. Barron does an amazing job at capturing Austen's narrative voice. The story is superbly researched - almost to a fault. While I enjoyed the level of detail, some of the footnotes did get a bit repetitive and I wished more than once there had been a more streamline way of integrating the important historical context into the narrative. Barron also used her page space to the fullest. Expect plot up to the last page!
While I
Even after 15 years in print and 10 novels in the series, this first effort shines

Imagine being present when Jane Austen’s unknown personal journals are discovered in an outbuilding on an ancient Maryland estate, Dunready Manor. Your friends the Westmoreland’s are distantly related to the authoress, and after restoration they place the manuscripts in your care before they are donated to a major library. They recount years of Jane Austen’s life and personal experiences that we know little of, the
Rick Rapp
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Barron presents a most unusual conceit for her novel: using the noted author Jane Austen as her protagonist and sleuth in a murder among the gentry and the unjust accusation of a bosom friend. The only drawback is the penchant for Austen's leisurely style and descriptions which seem somewhat at odds with the urgency of a murder mystery. But the characters are well-drawn, although in some cases verging on cliche, so that makes the proceedings more interesting. I was pleased that I identified the ...more
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical mysteries, cozy mysteries, fiction, mystery, clean mysteries.
Jane Austen and a good mystery? Really? Hey, I'm there. Two of my favorite things.
From beginning to end I savored this book. Anyone who loves historical mysteries is in for a treat.

Clever plot with historical motives. The ending was so suspenseful! And of course, this is the most "charming" description of a murder I have ever heard,

'It is but a moment's leap to say that Marguerite is convinced Frederick was dispatched by his wife's hand, in concert with Payne's—and her anonymous letters we
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Like many others posting reviews here, I've mostly stayed away from mysteries using historical figures as sleuths. Being a Jane Austen fan, I gave in and tried this one and was very pleasantly surprised.

I think this was a charming book and well-written, keeping a respectful picture of Austen and reflecting well her writing style and the period as well.

My only issues were completely mine as a reader. It isn't a book that a reader can race through. You have to be patient and attentive to the flow
Melissa Perret
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love this series- the books are so charming and well-written, and they combine two of my favourite literary things: Jane Austen and murder mysteries. I've already read the second through fifth books, so it was great to go back and read the first (which ended up being one of the best so far!). ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Jane Austen Mysteries (1 - 10 of 13 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)

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