First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, this novel will probably interest you.  If you haven’t read her novel Pride and Prejudice, I suggestfirst impressions that you do so before starting this book.

First Impressions has two story lines. The first is about Jane Austen; the book’s basic facts about her life are essentially true, but Richard Mansfield, a major character in this tale, is completely imaginary. The main character in the second story line is Sophie Collingwood, a young woman trying to decide on her next move after graduation from Oxford University. Her beloved uncle has taught her a passionate love of books, as well as much knowledge about book collecting. She discovers a literary mystery involving Jane Austen’s work and also tries to learn the facts of a death which she suspects to be a murder.  Meanwhile, she is trying to decide between two young men who both show interest in her.

I’ve read Lovett’s first novel, The Bookman’s Tale.  While I enjoyed it, I thought that I’d find it even more interesting if I were a book collector.  I had no such doubts about this book.  I believe that any book lover could relate to Sophie and that anyone with interest in Jane Austen would enjoy reading this novel.

Lovett, a book collector, has worked as an antiquarian bookseller; he and his wife divide their time between England and Winston-Salem.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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