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JANE AND THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT SCARGRAVE MANOR by Stephanie Barron

JANE AND THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT SCARGRAVE MANOR

By Stephanie Barron

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-553-10196-X
Publisher: Bantam

 At the end of a Jane Austen revival season comes this first novel purporting to be an Austen manuscript found in the cellar of a remote American branch of the Austen family. It tells of Jane's visit to her dear friend Isobel, late of Barbados, newly married to much older Frederick, the Earl of Scargrave. At Scargrave Manor, in Hertfordshire, Jane meets Viscount Fitzroy Payne, the Earl's nephew and heir, as well as nephews George and Tom Hearst--brothers totally unalike: George is a glowering misfit, Tom a lively, spendthrift member of the Horse Guards. Other guests at the Manor, to attend the Earl's celebratory ball, are Isobel's aunt Hortense Delahoussaye, with airhead daughter Fanny, and Lord Harold Trowbridge--according to Isobel, a scoundrel determined to wrest Crosswinds, her ancestral Barbados estate, from her grasp. The gaiety of the ball is short-lived. The Earl sickens and dies that very night. A series of notes from Isobel's vanished maid Marguerite soon follows. They're sent to local Magistrate Sir William Reynolds and accuse Isobel and Fitzroy of adultery and murder. Matters worsen when Jane finds Marguerite dead, her throat slit, in a haystack on the estate. Incriminating evidence abounds; Isobel and Fitzroy are arrested and taken to London--the case against them to be heard by the House of Lords. Only the frantic efforts of Jane and those recruited by her can save them--at great personal risk to our heroine. The author has set herself a Herculean task that happily succeeds on all levels: a robust tale of manners and mayhem that faithfully reproduces the Austen style--and engrosses to the finish. (Author tour)