Jane and … #11

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Jane and the CanterburyTale

Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House – Stephanie Barron

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Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House is the sixth in the series by Stephanie Barron and while this is one of my favorite authors and a favorite series, this volume, in my opinion, is not her best.  Since I’ve read the others prior to this one, and I’m a bit of a Janeist, I know what’s going on in Jane’s life and what the premise for the series is.  However, in this book, things aren’t really explained as well as they could be.

But we do have a good mystery here, and some very interesting characters.  I liked the Bosun’s Mate and learning more about Jane’s brother and the naval set.  Jane’s mother becomes more annoying and querulous as the series goes on and the addition of Martha Lloyd to the household is quite welcome.

The titular “Prisoner of Wool House”, however, I felt to be kind of unnecessary to the plot beyond providing key plot points that might be better handled some other way.  And Jane having a sickroom crush on him was just plain silly.  She keeps doing that.  She has a thing for misunderstood gentlemen with eloquent hands.

Most people in our group didn’t really enjoy this book.  Some didn’t read it and some hadn’t finished it, but the general consensus, apart from yours truly who recommended it in the first place, was “Eh”. 

There were complaints about the language, which I must defend as being an integral part of the series, seeing as how it is told through Jane Austen’s diary entries and this is how she wrote.  In that regard, I think it’s pretty true to the original.  There was a discussion about the paper version vs. the Kindle version.  The electronic version was rather disappointing because of high number of spelling and punctuation typos in it.

Another complaint was pacing, which is also tied to Jane’s style.  The author spends a lot of time setting the scene, showing the reader what it was like in the early 1800s in the port of Southampton during the Napoleonic War.  As modern readers, however, we have gotten used to things moving along more quickly.  One of our members admitted to finding Wool House slow going, so she went off and read something more fast-paced before coming back to finish it.

There was also a complaint about it not being a mystery but rather just a regular novel.  I have to disagree with that seeing as how there are a couple of murders in the book that need to be solved, as well as the parentage of a Young Gentleman to be addressed. 

Pam’s Picks are Jane Austen-related and not necessarily mysteries – Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford and Killing Bridezilla by Laura Levine.