cover image The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen

Syrie James. Berkley, $15 (432p) ISBN 978-0-425-25336-6

James's interpretation of the "story within a story" provides a literary feast for Anglophiles. While visiting England, American librarian and Jane Austen fan Samantha McDonough buys a dusty, ancient book of poetry containing a hidden letter penned by Austen. Addressed to her sister, the letter references Austen's never-before-seen manuscript, The Stanhopes, and suggests the unseen novel to have been mislaid "at Greenbriar in Devonshire." James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen) sends Samantha on a frenzied journey of authentication, research, and footwork as she attempts to track down the missing manuscript. She is introduced to an antique-filled manor, Greenbriar, and its handsome owner Anthony Wickham who, upon Samantha's urging, finds a peculiar "puzzle box" cached in the back of a cabinet. Inside is The Stanhopes, a multimillion dollar treasure and James's novel within a novel. That book is gradually authenticated, but there is another conflict still to resolve: Samantha wants the manuscript published for the masses believing it "will set off a global wave of Janeite frenzy"; Anthony selfishly wants it auctioned for millions to the highest bidder, most likely a private collector. They appear deadlocked until Anthony becomes a student of Austen and her themes, prompting his life-affirming conclusion and ensuring an Austen-worthy ending. (Jan.)