The Jane Austen Project

"What kind of maniac travels in time?" The answer is Dr. Rachel Katzman--a Jane Austen fan with a keen desire to retrieve the manuscript of the author's supposedly unfinished seventh novel, and to identify the mysterious disease that caused her death at age 41. Under the auspices of the Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, Rachel and her colleague Liam Finucane travel to 1815, where they pose as a wealthy brother and sister newly arrived in England from Jamaica. From there, Kathleen Flynn spins an entertaining story of time travel, complicated romantic connections and Austenalia in her debut novel, The Jane Austen Project.

Rachel's wry, observant narrative voice teaches readers the delights and hardships of life in 1815 with rich historical detail. Flynn renders the whole Austen clan vividly: charming Henry, self-absorbed James, neurotic Mrs. Austen, disapproving Cassandra. Jane is as witty and wise a friend as Rachel could wish for, but the latter can never forget that she has a set return date and a task to complete. As Jane's health worsens and their time begins to run out, Rachel also must face the fact that her feelings for Liam are decidedly un-sisterly. Flynn's conclusion raises (and leaves lingering) a few unsettling questions: How much change is too much? Can anyone travel back in time without drastically affecting the future? And is a manuscript--even a completed version of The Watsons--worth a life?

Witty, well-researched and thought-provoking, Flynn's debut is a fun and unusual addition to the canon of Austen tributes and pastiche. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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