Stephanie Barron’s newest Jane Austen mystery turned me into an instant fan. I enjoyed Jane and the Year Without a Summer immensely. I’ve loved Jane for a long time. This series delivers all the love of an Austen novel, but with the bonus of a Sherlockian mystery.
- Title: Jane and the Year Without a Summer (Being A Jane Austen Mystery – Book 14)
- Author: Stephanie Barron
- Publisher: Soho Crime on February 8, 2022
- Genre: Historical Mystery
- Pages: 336
- Formats Available: Hardback, Audiobook, & Digital
- Rating: 5/5
Trigger Warnings: Arson, Violence
Many thanks to Stephanie Barron and Soho Crime for providing me with a paperback copy of Jane and the Year Without a Summer with a request for an honest review. I also wish to thank Laurel Ann from Austenprose PR for allowing me to participate in this tour and for providing me with all the materials needed to make this post.
About Jane and the Year Without a Summer
May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers, and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.Blurb Provided by Austenprose PR for Tour Use
Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own—some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life.
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I adored Barron’s version of Jane. Jane Austen was my first foray into classic novels as an adult, and I’ve always wondered about her life. This novel gives you a glimpse into Jane’s life in a way that I’ve never had before. But, not only do we get Jane, but her sister Cassandra and a love interest to boot. The entire cast of characters lends a great deal of fun and sinisterness to the mystery.
I’ve only read of people “taking the waters” in Bath. But the setting of Cheltenham Spa offers a different look into the practice. The beauty and charm of Bath are still there in the streets of Gloucestershire. We also get to observe the theater and other treasures of the age. Getting to know this new location entertained my entire reading journey. The masked ball was my favorite part of the book. Yet also the most disturbing.
This book’s research was phenomenal. I’ve yet to read a novel with footnotes, but this one has them. I know it’s a bit strange, but footnotes are so much fun! This edition is my first Be a Jane Austen Mystery book. This one is the 14th volume in the series, and now I’m hooked. I can’t wait to read more of them.
I award Jane and the Year Without a Summer 5 out of 5 stars. The mystery is cozy and fun, though I guessed the culprit from the start. However, that doesn’t diminish the history and the suspense at all. I recommend this to anyone who loves Jane Austen or cozy mysteries. In this novel, we get both, and there is nothing better than that.
About the Author – Stephanie Barron
Francine Mathews was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written twenty-five books, including five novels in the Merry Folger series (Death in the Off-Season, Death in Rough Water, Death in a Mood Indigo, Death in a Cold Hard Light, and Death on Nantucket) as well as the nationally bestselling Being a Jane Austen mystery series, which she writes under the penname, Stephanie Barron. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.