A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times–bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale.
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 A 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.
Lovett (The Bookman's Tale) weaves two plots together in this well-designed, ingenious novel. One is the story of Jane Austen's relationship with the Rev. Richard Mansfield, set in Hamphire, England, in 1796; the other follows Sophie Collingwood, lovingly described by her family as having an overactive imagination, in present-day England. Sophie is shocked to hear that her uncle was found dead with a broken neck at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Willed all his assets, she prepares to settle into his London home only to discover that his extensive library has been sold to pay off debts. She resolves to buy back as many of his books as possible and gains employment in a bookshop. While taking orders for rare books, she encounters two customers obsessively seeking the same edition of an obscure work by Mansfield. She is determined to find out why the book is so valuable to them and why one customer is desperate enough to threaten her and perhaps even willing to commit murder to gain possession of it. Ardent fans of Jane Austen and lovers of a gripping stories will enjoy following Sophie's pursuit of the truth.