cover image The Jane Austen Project

The Jane Austen Project

Kathleen A. Flynn. Harper Perennial, $15.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-265125-9

In Flynn’s debut, a time-travel romance, scholars in the near future find a letter indicating that Jane Austen finished and then destroyed her partial novel The Watsons, instead of never having finished it. Dr. Rachel Katzman and her colleague, Liam Finucane, are sent to live in the year 1815, hoping to get into the Austens’ social circle and use that access to obtain a complete copy of the manuscript. However, Rachel’s flirtation with Austen’s brother, Henry, proves too effective, especially when she begins to fall in love with Liam. Though the novel is well-researched, rich in period detail, and convincing in its literary analysis, Flynn spends more energy on the conventional romance plot than on the side effects and consequences of time travel, to the book’s detriment. (May)