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When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this dashing man?
But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor orphan girl to do?
In this delicious dance between truth and fiction, Cora Harrison has crafted Jenny’s secret diary by reading everything Jane Austen wrote as a child and an adult, and by researching biographies, critical studies, and family letters. Jenny’s diary makes the past spring vividly to life and provides insight into the entire Austen family—especially the beloved Jane.
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Cora Harrison fell in love with Jane Austen when she first read Pride and Prejudice at the age of twelve. She has published many novels for children and adults. She and her husband live on a small farm in the west of Ireland with a very large and rather lunatic German shepherd dog called Oscar and a very small white cat called Polly.From School Library Journal:
Gr 7-10-Based on people and events from Austen's adolescence, this book does a better job than most to evoke the feel of the writer's novels. The story begins with Jane and her cousin Jenny at a strict boarding school. Jane falls ill with a fever, but the headmistress refuses to notify her parents, so Jenny slips out late at night to post a letter to Jane's mother. On the streets of Southampton she is nearly accosted by some unsavory characters but finds a protector in gallant naval captain Thomas Williams. Her mission is successful, the girls are removed from the school, but Jenny's secret fear is that Captain Williams will mention seeing her on the streets late at night, thereby ruining her reputation. She assumes that she will never see her rescuer again, but while visiting Jane's family, she and Captain Williams come face to face once again. Harrison takes some liberties with characterization and the ages of characters and downplays Jane's closeness with her sister Cassandra in order to highlight her friendship with Jenny, but has obviously done her research in Austen lore. This novel does a good job of maintaining the feeling of the period, and Hellard's pen-and-ink sketches are the perfect accompaniment to the book's diary format. The story is lighter fare than Austen's novels, but will certainly be enjoyed by younger teens familiar with them as well as readers who enjoy historical romance.-Misti Tidman, formerly at Boyd County Public Library, Ashland, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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