Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Death of a Dowager

The Death of a DowagerAuthor: Joanna Campbell Slan
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Series: The Jane Eyre Chronicles # 2

In her classic tale, Charlotte Brontë introduced readers to the strong-willed and intelligent Jane Eyre. Picking up where Brontë left off, the year is now 1820, and Jane’s life has finally settled into a comfortable pattern. She and her beloved Edward Rochester have married and have a son. But Jane soon finds herself having to protect those she loves…

When the roof caves in at Ferndean, their country home, Jane and Edward accept an invitation from their friend Lucy Brayton to stay with her in London while repairs are being made. Jane is reluctant to abandon their peaceful life in the countryside, but Edward’s damaged vision has grown worse. She hopes that time in the capital will buoy his spirits and give him the chance to receive treatment from a renowned oculist.

Once in London, the Rochester’s accompany Lucy to the Italian Opera House, where they encounter Dowager Lady Ingram, who had once hoped for Edward to wed her daughter, Blanche—and who’s still rankled by his subsequent marriage to Jane. In front of a group of society people, the aging dowager delivers a vicious social drubbing to Jane, enraging both Edward and Lucy. In an attempt to rebuild good will, Jane and Lucy decide to speak to the Dowager in private the next day. But the visit is cut short when the Dowager drops dead before their shocked eyes. Lucy is poised to take the blame—unless Jane can clear her friend’s name…

Love has a transformative power, an alchemy that reshapes the most intransigent personality.

“My darling girl, you are too good. We both know that London is anathema to you. You are never more pleased than when taking a long walk or curling up with a good book.”

Once one served as a teacher, the urge to correct mistakes is a pressing desire, not because the teacher believes her natural superiority, but because inaccuracy is the breeding ground of ignorance.

“To London!” Edward raised his teacup, and I followed his lead. “To London!”

This wonderfully woven historical fiction is set shortly before the coronation of King George IV. Jane and her family are staying in a London townhouse owned by her close friend, Lucy Brayton. I was pleased to see more of Lucy Brayton in this novel. What I loved best about this novel was that it wasn’t only a murder mystery but showed the political side of things during the time period. This book provided an amazing inside look at high society England, as well as a detailed and realistic description of political actions being taken by the King and his followers.

This book was written baring many similarities to Charlotte Bronte, who actually wrote Jane Eyre. The murder mystery in this book starts right from the first chapter and continually spirals from there. The writing was very elegant and drew me into the story with small details relating to high society and the way that Jane and Lucy behaved and flourished on the ton. While drawing readers in to the mystery revolving around Jane, Joanna also adds small details regarding the political situation surrounding the King and gives readers more than one reason to get involved in Jane’s story. I was completely mesmerized by the historical side of this novel, and I absolutely love when authors draw me in this way.

Jane’s voice is the ultimate for me in this book. She is a strong, witty heroine who will always have my vote. I felt this way even after reading the first book in this series, and I still feel this way even now. I feel like Joanna writes her character in the same manner that Charlotte Bronte intended for her to be written. For a woman in the 1800’s, she sure does have a powerful voice and a lot to say, but we all know that I love this in a heroine! I would recommend this series, and this book, to anyone who has a taste for a little mystery and a strong appreciation for anything historical!!

***Thank you to the publishers at Berkley Trade for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. Chelsey, you might enjoy the Jane Eyre paper dolls I put on Pinterest (since you're a fashionista). And thank you for the lovely review!