Secrets in the Snow by Michaela MacColl, published by Chronicle Books on 4th October 2016
Jane Austen's family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels, and finds every suitor lacking—until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives. Could he be the one? Before Jane can find out, she must solve a murder, clear her family's name, and face a decision that might cost her true love.
This book has a beautiful front cover which drew me in, along with the fact that the story draws on the life of Jane Austen who I am a massive fan of. 'Secrets in the Snow' is a fictionalised account of a moment in Austen's life when she meets Irishman Tom Lefroy and solves a murder in the process. It was an interesting mix of fact and fiction which is something that Michaela MacColl does really well. I thought that the character of Jane Austen was brilliantly written and I felt that her personality had been captured beautifully. She came alive on the page and I particularly liked how witty and insightful she is, as well as being incredibly observant of everything and everyone around her.
The story draws parallels with 'Pride and Prejudice', suggesting that Tom Lefroy and his family may have served as inspiration for the well loved tale of the Bennett sisters. It is an interesting link to make and while we will never know if it is true or not, it was an intriguing angle to explore. Incidentally, if you do want to read more about Jane and Tom, then 'Becoming Jane' is a fantastic book and looks at their relationship in more detail.
MacColl's plot delves into a mystery surrounding Jane's cousin Eliza who is suspected of helping the French, England's enemy. When a body is discovered, events take an even more serious turn but Jane is never one to back down and plunges headfirst into solving the case. While the mystery itself may not have been terribly complicated and was fairly simple to figure out, the treat was in seeing how a determined Jane goes about getting answers, not letting any of the menfolk stand in her way.
This was another great book by an author who weaves together fact and fiction wonderfully well. I would recommend to other Austen fans.