Book Corner 2023.5

by Gill Hornby

This really wasn’t bad. A novel where Jane Austen is a character has the potential to be really cheesy, but this wasn’t. It hewed closely to real-life events – main character Anne Sharp was real, was governess to Jane Austen’s niece Fanny, and became very close friends with Jane.

It only broke period and tested my straight face in one respect – when two characters fall ill at the same time, someone exclaims, oh, I hope we didn’t catch any germs from the babies! They’ve closed off the nursery as a precaution. Look, the germ theory of disease had not permeated the Austen milieu of the early 19th century. They thought people got sick from being outside in the rain. The book makes this faux pas once again later, talking about “infectiousness”. Anyone who has read any Austen book knows that people get sick from catching chills, and nobody stays away from them; on the contrary, as long as they are not too fatigued, they get visitors all the time.

This wasn’t enough to turn me off. Things could have gotten a lot more foolish, but our author practices restraint. I thought Henry Austen’s flirtatious behavior and its reciprocation was bewildering, he being an allegedly married man (no wife ever seen with him), but I guess it stayed within the bounds of the possible.

It was an OK read. The bar is low.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s