review: Jane Austen’s First Love
by Syrie James
At the age of fifteen, Jane Austen spends a summer holiday with her elder brother at his fiancé’s home in Kent. Five families come together to celebrate the upcoming nuptials and along the way many, including Jane, discover much about love and relationships. There she meets a young man who both exasperates and thrills her, leading her to learn life lessons that greatly encourage and influence her writing.
Edward Taylor is, as the author has considerately detailed in her notes, a real person in Jane Austen’s life, for she mentions him in correspondence to her sister, Cassandra. Facts cleverly meshed with a pleasant series of youthful summer pursuits set the background for this fanciful tale, complete with a rendition of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Austen fans will quickly notice tidbits inspired by her novels—you could say it’s very much the essence of Emma and Pride & Prejudice, but with a host of new characters to enjoy.