by Charlie Lovett
Overview (from Goodreads): Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts: I have never read a novel by Jane Austen. I know this is a very large oversight on my part, but I just never got around to reading one. I’ve always been interested in reading her work though. So when I read the description for First Impressions I jumped at the chance to read it. I figured, if nothing else I would get to read some historical fiction relating to Jane Austen. I got so much more than that out of First Impressions.
The plot of First Impressions was so interesting and unique. I thought the dual narrative between present day Sophie and Jane Austen was a stroke of absolute genius. It enriched the story and made it so much more exciting. Throughout the book I kept changing which narrative was my favorite. In the end, I just ended up being flabbergasted at the brilliance of the constant switch in point of view (note: it was never confusing or irksome).
One of the main characters, Sophie, started to irritate me about half way through the book. I really started to get behind the idea that she was pretty stupid (even if she did love books). She just couldn’t get it together in the love department, at least not in the way I thought she should. I loved the way Jane Austen was portrayed. It made me want to start reading my first Jane Austen novel and based on this, I’d have to start with Pride & Prejudice. I realized that I genuinely hate love triangles, mostly when the main character is actively going back and forth between their choices.
I feel like I can’t praise First Impressions enough. I’m not generally a fan of historical fiction, but Charlie Lovett and First Impressions could convert me. I will personally be looking for more by Lovett and reading some actual Jane Austen. If you’re a Jane Austen fan, I would highly recommend First Impressions. If you’re into historical fiction, especially when it’s about literary figures, I would recommend First Impressions. Finally, if you have any sort of passing interest in Jane Austen (like I did), I would definitely encourage you to give First Impressions a shot.
4.5 out of 5 Bookmarks = I’m a pretty huge fan now.