Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway – Jane Austen’s Ghost by Jennifer Kloester

About the Book:

A masterpiece of wit, ingenuity and impeccable style, Regency maven Jennifer Kloester brings the great Jane Austen into the modern world in this enchanting, exhilarating adventure of love, literature and life everlasting…

With her life a mess, Cassandra Austin seeks refuge in Winchester with her eccentric great-aunt – but Aunty B has problems of her own. Ghost problems.

Cassie doesn’t believe in ghosts but she’ll do anything to help the only person who’s ever loved her. Besides, a simple spell in the cathedral crypt couldn’t do any harm, could it? Well, except for the two-hundred-year-old curse on Jane Austen, that is.

Overnight, life is suddenly a whole lot weirder and it’s up to Cassie to save the day with the help of a dour Bishop, two literary geniuses, a couple of wise-cracking geriatrics and the enigmatic Oliver Carling.

Magic and mystery abound in this genre-bending contemporary-historical paranormal romance with a Regency twist.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                                                                                 Jane Austen’s Ghost

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Quite honestly, Cassie Austin is a bit of a walking disaster.  Her current predicament sends her seeking a temporary home with her beloved Aunt Butters.  Cassie made the mistake of giving all of her savings to her latest boyfriend, who then tossed her out of his home, leaving her to fend for herself.  Aunt Butters is more than happy to have Cassie’s company, as her own life has been, well, strange recently.  As they attend church at Winchester Cathedral, odd things begin to happen.  Aunt Butters calmly explains that it’s the ghosts, who are very restless, as they’ve been unable to cross over to the Celestial Realm.

Though unbelieving at first, Cassie soon becomes convinced that there is truly paranormal activity going on, all centered around the cathedral.  A random incident happens which not only allows Cassie to see none other than Miss Jane Austen herself, but to become irretrievably linked to her until Jane can move on.  It seems that in her lifetime, a certain Reverend Clarke coveted Jane for his wife.  At her refusal, Clarke turned to the dark arts, casting a spell which would bind Jane to him for eternity.  The story takes many twists and turns, leading to the current situation – none of the spirits are able to move on, and unless the curse is removed, and SOON, Jane will be doomed to spend eternity with the odious Reverend Clarke.

JANE AUSTEN’S GHOST has a fabulous cast of supporting characters in this unique story that spans two centuries.  The best aspect is the developing friendship between Jane and Cassie.  Watching Miss Austen acclimate to life in the 21st century is a hoot.  I think my favorite scene was Jane and Cassie watching the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.  I love Cassie and Jane trying to decide if Oliver, the possible new love interest, is truly a Darcy or just a Wickham.  It was lovely to see how touched and amazed Jane was to see what an impact her books have had on the population over the last two hundred years.

I believe JANE AUSTEN’S GHOST will appeal to Janeites, as the number of quoted passages and references is so clever and abundant.  The plot twists are very well done.  This book is a combination of many things, history, humor, ghosts, romance, and even redemption.  I honestly found some aspects of the dark magic creepy, but it was offset by the uplifting lighter moments.  I think even readers who are not devotees of Jane Austen will greatly enjoy this unusual book, as I was totally captivated and entertained as Cassie, Jane, and their cast of friends raced to save Winchester Cathedral and Miss Austen from a fate worse than death!    ~Rose

Read an Excerpt:

TEN minutes later I was easing Dexter down the narrow road leading to the village of Steventon. It was a relief to find the area still rural and quite picturesque with its gentle hills and woodlands. The trees were wearing their summer gowns of green, copper, and gold and the hedgerows were in bloom; the scene exuded a charm unknown to the urban centre we had left behind.

As we entered the tiny village, Miss Austen’s ghost pointed. ‘That way. Along there is the rectory where I was born, and where my father and mother raised us: my brothers and Cassandra and me. I wrote my first poems and stories there. Childish things, but I remember making them up while sitting in the garden or walking beneath the elm trees. That was before the great storm blew down the elms in my twenty-fifth year. Such beautiful trees! I must always have missed them, only we moved to Bath soon afterwards, and my eldest brother James became the new rector of Steventon and took up residence in our old home.’

She looked eagerly through the car window, trying to see the house through the high hedgerow, but it was difficult to make out anything through the thick leafy screen. Miss Austen did not seem to mind; instead, she practically bounced in her seat.

‘To think, that on the other side of that hedgerow is the dear house where I spent the happiest years of my life. I wrote my first novels there and had such hopes of finding a publisher. Why, I was not yet twenty-two years of age when I finished writing First Impressions. I remember it distinctly because Papa wrote to Mr Thomas Cadell on November first in the year 1797 to enquire what would be the expense of publication.’ She made a face. ‘Sadly, the letter was returned almost immediately. “Declined by Return of Post” was all the answer we received.’

‘But First Impressions is Pride and Prejudice, isn’t it? And it was published.’

‘Oh, yes. But not until many years later, and not until after a quite different novel was printed by Mr Thomas Egerton. That was in 1811, when my dearest brother Henry and my kind cousin Eliza paid him to do so.’

‘You had to pay to have a book published?’

‘Yes, indeed. For he would not otherwise accept Sense and Sensibility.’

I gaped at her.

‘Fortunately, when it came time to publish my next book the situation was very different. By then I had enjoyed some little success and so Mr Egerton actually paid me an advance of one hundred and ten pounds for Pride and Prejudice.’

‘A hundred and ten—’

‘You are surprised at it being so large a sum and yet, to be truthful, I had hoped it might be as much as one hundred and fifty pounds. Still, it was not for me to cavil and I was not surprised that he should not choose to hazard so much. I assure you, Cassandra, that having by that time written myself into two hundred and fifty pounds, I was not dissatisfied. Indeed, it only made me long for more.’

I was so mind-boggled at the thought of Jane Austen earning a measly two hundred and fifty quid from her first two books that I couldn’t speak (though I did give myself a point for the quote). Luckily, she’d already lost interest in the topic. ‘How glad I am to see so many of the old trees still standing’

I stared at the trees and tried to imagine a young Jane Austen walking among them. It was incredible to think that she’d been here all those years ago, admiring the very same trees that I was admiring now. She said softly, ‘As a girl I often used to pass this way, and on Sundays my brothers and sister and I would walk down the lane to the church to hear Papa preach his sermon.’

‘That must be the lane there.’ I indicated a small white sign with the words, ‘Steventon Church’ on it. ‘Shall we drive down it and see if we can spot your old house?’

‘I should like it of all things.’

I turned into the narrow road and drove slowly up the rise. We’d gone about fifty yards when I saw a gap in the trees. I pulled over. ‘Come on.’ I climbed out of the car and stepped up onto the earthen bank. Miss Austen’s ghost followed and a moment later we found ourselves looking down over a large meadow.

An empty meadow.

We stared at the long grass and the tall trees and at the space where once a house must have stood and I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. Again, I couldn’t find words, and it was Miss Austen who eventually broke the unhappy silence.

‘It is gone.’ Her voice shook with emotion, and I was dismayed to see her colour drain away until she was almost transparent. ‘I collect James must have—’

She choked and a wave of guilt surged through me. This was my fault. I should have checked online before I brought her here. I should have listened to my father’s lectures. I should have known. ‘I am so sorry, Miss Austen.’ I reached for her hand and somehow clasped her ghostly fingers in mine. Her hazel eyes were full of silver tears and I longed to comfort her. Maybe that was why I felt only a gentle heightening of my senses at her touch: as if this time all the thought and emotion were flowing from me to her instead of travelling the other way.

I tried to smile. She smiled miserably back and for the first time I saw her, not as Jane Austen, world-famous writer, but as a woman whose heart had been deeply and unexpectedly wounded. In that moment a quiet empathy replaced the lash of guilt inside me and I was able to speak from the depths of my own broken heart. ‘It’s so hard to lose what we have loved, but thank God for the good memories.’

She nodded sadly. ‘You are right, Cassandra, but I wish that you might have seen our house. It was not grand or richly furnished but it was…’ She paused, then in a stifled voice whispered, ‘It was home.’ She gazed out over the meadow as though picturing the rectory and her beloved family and heaved a sigh. ‘My brother James was a good man. If it was he who had the rectory pulled down then I am sure he had a just reason for doing so.’ She pointed to a tree on the far side of the field. ‘Why, I do believe that lime tree is the very one James planted to mark the Allied Victory at the Battle of Vittoria. And over there is the old pump for the well.’ Her hand trembled slightly.

‘Maybe you’d like to visit the church?’ I felt certain the church was largely unchanged and I wanted to get her away from this field of memories.

‘Yes, Cassandra.’ Her gaze lingered on the meadow for a moment before she turned away. ‘I should like that very much.’

We returned to the car. Miss Austen’s ghost was a nearly translucent shell that looked neither right nor left as we continued up the road, and I couldn’t help wishing I’d never brought her to Steventon. I made a mental vow to check online before visiting other Jane Austen sites with Miss Austen.

St Nicholas church was a small stone building dwarfed by an enormous tree near the church door. Miss Austen’s face lit up at the sight of it. ‘Gracious, there is Papa’s favourite yew-tree, as tall and grand as ever it was when he was rector here.’ She passed through the car door to the huge tree. Relieved to see her turning milky-white again, I followed her. ‘Is it not a wonderful sight, Cassandra? Why, it must be nearly nine hundred years old by now, for Papa was always used to tell us it was planted with the church and that, you know, has been here since the twelfth century.’

‘It’s huge. Bigger than the church even.’

She gazed wistfully up at the tree and I pulled my phone from my pocket and snapped a photo. It was a nice photo – of a tree. I squinted at the screen, but it seemed that, like vampires, ghosts could not be photographed.

Miss Austen stared upwards. ‘That pointed steeple is new, and I do not recognize that oddly-shaped weather vane.’

‘It’s meant to be a pen.’ I glanced up from my phone, where I was belatedly searching Jane Austen websites. ‘It says here that it was added to honour you.’

‘To honour me—’ She darted over. ‘Where does it say so?’

‘Right here on SeekingJaneAusten.com. I googled it.’

‘Googled it?’ She looked at me blankly.

‘Yeah. Google. It’s what we call a search engine. It lets you look up anything you need to know. It’s kind of amazing.’ I held up my phone so she could see the page ‘Jane Austen at Steventon’ with a picture of the church and a description.

‘Good heavens.’ She peered at the screen. ‘It is a book and yet not a book. A tiny book with coloured pictures. How is such a thing possible?’

‘Because it’s part of the internet.’

‘What is the “internet”?’ She looked at me with raised brows.

I couldn’t help laughing. Jane Austen wanted me to explain the internet to her. Me. As if I understood it.

‘Cassandra?’

‘It’s kind of hard to explain, but I guess you could say it’s a bunch of machines talking to each other and—’

‘Machines that talk? How is such a thing possible?’

I opened my mouth and closed it. There was no point trying to explain. Not with words anyway. ‘Look here.’ I brought up JaneAustensWorld.com and held out my phone.

Miss Austen gasped. ‘‘But… surely that is a portrait of my father?’ She looked at me indignantly. ‘How came you by his picture? What kind of book is this that has no pages to turn but which holds the image of one whose likeness was only ever taken for his family to cherish?’

‘It’s not a book. It’s what we call a telephone – except that it’s really a miniature computer and a camera and a social media platform and—’

‘Stop,’ commanded Miss Austen’s ghost. ‘You go too fast, Cassandra. While I perceive that there is much for me to learn about this modern world – and I should certainly like to know about this internet machine and how it is that my dear father’s portrait shines from that instrument in your hand – at this moment and in this place I should prefer to remember him as he was when I was young. I shall enter this church where I once heard his dissertations and there recall his handsome mien, his happy demeanour and his fine speaking.’

She glided purposefully inside.

I stood by the yew tree and tried to imagine what it would be like to have happy memories of my father.

My father…

Oh. My. God.

‘Jane!’ I shrieked. ‘Time to go.’

About the Author:

Jennifer Kloester first read Georgette Heyer’s novels while living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea and re-read them while living in the desert in Bahrain. In 2004, she completed a Doctorate on Georgette Heyer and her Regency Novels. Since then she has written extensively about Heyer and the Regency and has given writing workshops and public presentations in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. She is the author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller. Jennifer also writes fiction; her novel Jane Austen’s Ghost is out October 29, 2019.

Twitter: @JenKloester

Instagram: @jenkloester

Facebook: /JenniferKloesterAuthor

Web: jenniferkloester.com

Goodreads: JenniferKloester

COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER TO WIN AN E-COPY OF JANE AUSTEN’S GHOST –

Open Worldwide – Simpy leave a Jane Austen related comment below – your favorite book, favorite hero, favorite movie adaption, etc.  Random winner will be selected November 8 and notified by email.

10 comments

  1. Rose, I’m so glad you rated this book so highly. It sounds so interesting. I have also been meaning to read her Georgette Heyer book. She was a fascinating woman. My favorite Austen is Pride & Prejudice, and although I like all the others I’ve seen, Yes, even that hilarious old 1940’s black and white Hollywood version, but my favorite remains the 1995 BBC production. Thanks to Jennifer for writing Austen variations and the generous giveaway.

    Liked by 1 person

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