It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an author in possession of an adoring fan base, must be in want of a backstory.
Title: Secrets in the Snow
Author: Michaela MacColl
Source: Raincoast Books for review
Jane Austen’s family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels, and finds every suitor lacking—until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives. Could he be the one? Before Jane can find out, she must solve a murder, clear her family’s name, and face a decision that might cost her true love.
What I Thought:
Secrets in the Snow is a fictional account based on real events in Jane Austen’s life, obviously taking (quite a few) liberties, but while presenting a wonderful work of historical fiction.
There’s political intrigue in the form of her cousin being accused of espionage, romance in the form of a very Mr. Darcy-esque character, a country ball, the guillotine, a murder, eavesdropping, red herrings, and at the end Jane is forced to make an impossible choice.
The murder and intrigue were well written, and it was great to guess at who had done it and why. There were enough clues that I was able to figure it out but not so many that I felt like I was being spoon-fed.
This was such a fun read that I sat down and devoured it in basically one sitting. It was easy to fall into this book; the characters, setting and plot just sucked me right in from chapter one. Jane was a dynamic protagonist, and watching her budding romance with Mr. Lefroy was super fun.
There were quite a few historical inaccuracies, such as the men allowing Jane to examine a dead body, and allowing her to be involved in solving the murder at all. But if you can suspend your inner historian and enjoy the story for what it is – a fun, fast-paced mystery – you won’t be disappointed.
I loved how each chapter was prefaced with a quote from one of Austen’s novels, and was a teaser as to what was to come in the chapter ahead. The author’s note at the end explains which bits of the story are taken from reality and which are embellished. I didn’t know much about Austen’s history so it was extra interesting to realise how much of it was true!
It was also amusing how MacColl peppered little seeds of Austen’s future books throughout the story. Jane gets the idea for Pride and Prejudice from her love interest’s family, and there are bits of dialogue that are used later in her titles and works (like “sense and sensibility”). It was enjoyable to imagine what would have inspired her in real life!
This is going to sound weird but this book had a great feel quality. The dust jacket was nice and smooth and the papers were thick but soft. Does that make me a lunatic to think about stuff like that? So be it.
Michaela MacColl has written quite a few author-based mysteries (along with quite a few other books!) check out her website here at www.michaelamaccoll.com
I am part of the blog tour for this book with Raincoast Books! Check out the other stops along the way to see what they thought of Secrets in the Snow. Look, there’s even a super duper fancy graphic included:
With the Austens, they were always on the most intimate terms.