The books of Jane Austen. A possible murder. A literary mystery. Two witty bibliophiles--Sophie Collingwood and Eric Hall--and an Austen-worthy romance. Combined, these five elements make First Impressions by Charlie Lovett one of my most favorite reads this year. It's every bit as good as his first novel, The Bookman's Tale (which I loved). The chapters in this book alternate between past and present, between Jane Austen and Sophie Collingwood, a narrative style that normally drives me crazy but which I actually didn't mind here. In fact, I enjoyed reading both story lines.
Here's the first line of the first Jane Austen chapter:
"Fond as she was of solitary walks, Jane had been wandering rather longer than she had intended, her mind occupied not so much with the story she had lately been reading as with one she hoped soon to be writing."And here's the first few lines of Sophie's story, present day:
"After five years at Oxford, Sophie Collingwood had mastered the art of reading while walking ... This was a useful skill for someone so absorbed by the books she read that she often pictured herself at the center of whatever romance or mystery or adventure played out on their pages."These first lines lead to a delightful tale of old books, intrigue and mystery, friendship and romance, and some of Jane Austen's best writing. I thought it was a lot of fun. I'm glad Charlie Lovett wrote it...and even more glad that I got to read it !