Vanessa V. Friedman
January 31, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Jane and the Man of the Cloth

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Stephanie Barron
genre
Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C-

The Jane Austen phenomenon continues apace with yet another attempt to milk the craze for her old-fashioned Britishness. The basest effort yet, it features Ms. Austen herself as its intrepid heroine and, of all things, a sleuth. A mystery of no particular import forms the centerpiece of the plot: The Austen family finds itself in Lyme on holiday, and while they politely socialize, one murder, then another, occurs in town. Not surprisingly, the surly landowner Mr. Sidmouth is blamed for them, and Jane takes it on herself to find the truth. She also gets to be ”tart” and experience a ”sinking of the heart” and other such cringe-worthy emotions. On first glance you might think the whole book was a kind of postmodern attempt at irony, but by the second chapter you’d realize you were wrong. Jane and the Man of the Cloth is the second in Barron’s Jane Austen mystery series, from which any good sleuth would deduce — with horror — that there are more to come. Unless, of course, the daring author becomes interested in Emily Bronte…

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