New York artist Eliza Knight certainly did not realize it at the time, but her life changed when she bought an old, beat-up vanity table one lazy Sunday afternoon. Tucked away behind the mirror she found two letters, one sealed, but one already opened:
“May 12th, 1810. Dearest Jane, the Captain has found me out. I am being forced to go into hiding immediately. But if I am able, I shall still be waiting at the same spot tonight. Then you will know everything you wish to know. F. Darcy.”
F. Darcy as in Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. Even more mysterious was the other letter, sealed and never read — from Jane to Darcy. Eliza decides to look deeper, and her research leads to a majestic, 200-year-old estate in Virginia’s breathtaking Shenandoah Valley where she meets the one man who may hold the answer. But he also has a secret, one he has kept hidden for years.
It’s not so much that The Man Who Loved Jane Austen is bad, though the narrative is choppy and somewhat poorly strung together, but rather the fact that it’s almost moronic to place poor Jane Austen in a novel about time travel. O’Rourke admits that this is fantasy, a “what if” story, but the characters — Fitz and Eliza — seemed very childish, and the plot is fairly predictable. Okay, maybe it was bad, because there’s not much to this cheesy book.
The Man Who Loved Jane Austen provided quite the contrast to Heart of Darkness as it’s light and fluffy, and, therefore, I was annoyed by the end. I should have known when I saw that O’Rourke dedicated the book to Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
- O’Rourke, Sally Smith. The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. New York: Kensington, 2006. Print. 291 pgs. ISBN: 9780758210371. Source: Library.