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Friday, 19 April 2019

‘A Jane Austen Encounter’ by Donna Fletcher Crow


Published by Verity Press,
19 February 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-79749332-9

“Twenty years. Any regrets?”
“Oh, my dear.  Not a one”

Elizabeth and Richard Spenser, both professors of English literature, arrive in England to realise their shared dream to visit each of the homes in which their favourite author, Jane Austen, had lived during her all-too-brief life.  They have planned a trip that will take them to Bath, Chawton, Winchester, and Godmersham.  The tour is intended to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary.  Elizabeth, having recently retired from her post as Head of the English Department at Rocky Mountain College, is luxuriating in the opportunity to relax and enjoy their literary pilgrimage.  By contrast, Richard still holds his professorial role at the same university and the sabbatical requires that he undertake a significant piece of research for the department.  To facilitate this endeavour, they have arranged for an Austen specialist, Dr Muriel Greystone, to accompany them on their travels.

We join the two American academics as they enjoy some welcome refreshment in the genteel surroundings of the Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre.  Their tea and tranquillity, however, are interrupted by the arrival of Dr Greystone and her PhD student, Geraldine.  Following a tour of the facility, the couple are introduced to writer and researcher Arthur Langton and the Centre’s director, Claire Cholmley.  Claire is looking for assistance sorting through a box of ‘papers, old books, documents,’ an unexpected donation which may contain items of value and literary importance.  Dr Greystone nominates Richard as most qualified to assist Claire in perusing the papers and he is obliged to agree, little knowing that by nightfall the contents of the box will have led them all into an unwelcome and dangerous adventure.

A Jane Austen Encounter is the fourth in the “Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense Mysteries series and was my introduction to Donna Fletcher Crow’s writing.  Although one of a series, the novel is perfectly easy to read as a stand-alone, with precisely the right amount of background to enable the reader to feel secure about what has gone before.  I was delighted to find myself immersed in Austen’s world, the flawless descriptions of the streets and buildings she frequented, and the sumptuous landscape that provided the backdrop to her own life and that of the characters she created. 

The plot moves quickly, building suspense and keeping the reader guessing.  The narrative is captivating, entertaining and informative, and the writing style is consistently elegant, reassuring and, at times, playful; it had me reaching for my copy of Northanger Abbey to enjoy once more Austen’s wry observations on the human condition.  I thoroughly enjoyed my encounter with Jane Austen and am now relishing my next Donna Fletcher Crow encounter!
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Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Donna Fletcher Crow is a former English teacher and a Life Member of the Jane Austin Society of America. She is the author of 50 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work.  She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have 4 adult children and 12 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.
To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/
You can follow her on Facebook at: http://ning.it/OHi0MY



Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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