JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 416
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When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet house guest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.
When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance—and perhaps even her father’s death.
Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.
Praise for Lady Jayne Disappears:
“Emotional. Intriguing. Both haunting and romantic. . . In her historical fiction debut, Joanna Davidson Politano delivers a smart plot that navigates twists and turns with a mixture of wit, intelligent characters, and a refreshingly original voice. Reminiscent of Dickens’ classic storytelling, Lady Jayne Disappears is a debut to remember!”
—Kristy Cambron, author of The Illusionist’s Apprentice
“Wonderfully unique, this compelling debut grabs you from the first intriguing line. The evocative English setting, textured characters, literary theme, and unusual romance make Lady Jayne Disappears a standout, the lovely cover offering a hint of the gem within. A must read!”
—Laura Frantz, author of A Moonbow Night
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I am having trouble putting into words why this book grips me so. I think the cover, lovely like the cameo necklace my mother wore when I was a small child, beckoned me first. But then that opening chapter bound me in such a way that it tortured me to have to put this book down to get some sleep. I knew I should have started reading this over the weekend!
In retrospect, the first chapter reads different from the rest of the novel. Maybe it’s because of the terseness of the situation, but the tone doesn’t feel as Victorian as the chapters that follow. After allowing the characters to live in my mind these past few days, I also feel that the characterization of Aurelie is a little off. It is only in this first chapter that you will hear someone describe our heroine as “plain”. For the rest of the book, everyone describes her as ethereal and lovely like a wood nymph. There are even times that Aurelie looks in the mirror after a makeover and finds herself breathtaking.
I hope I’m not painting the girl as a narcissist, because she is anything but. Her talent for wordsmithing is the only thing that could tempt her to take pride in herself, and she’s easily deflated. For whatever reason, I can’t shake the idea that she reminds me of a Fannie Price, although she is much more resilient than that slip of an Austen girl. But just like Fannie, Aurelie struggles as she watches the man she loves fall for another woman (or does he?).
I don’t know if it’s because of the time period, but I felt a lot of Austen influence. Aurelie could be a cross between Fannie and Elizabeth Bennet. Juliette reminded me of an Emma mixed with Lydia Bennet. Jasper was a Wickham through and through but Silas was a hunky mix of Edmund, Mr. Darcy, and Colonel Brandon. I’m sure I would find more parallels if I put my mind to it, but I will stop there. I don’t know if the author had these characters in mind when she wrote Lady Jayne, but I do know that the mix of Austen characters I listed are polar opposites from each other. So no matter the similarities, Politano has achieved something truly special with her authentic characters.
I thought it was funny when Silas asks Aurelie about her reading preferences. Austen is mentioned but glossed over. The two prefer the less respectable form of serials, which reminded me of how the Northanger Abby characters were scandalously into gothic novels.
But enough Austen talk. The cast of characters in Lady Jane is, dare I say, perfect. No superfluous or unbelievable people are in this book. Nor do I feel like someone is missing from the line up. I’m pretty sure that this is one of the few books that have made me feel like that. I’m always quick to notice when someone says or does something out of turn. And I take wicked pleasure in pointing out when an author tosses in a token character that is hip at the moment. No one spoke a word or acted out of character, and yet I was anxious to see what would happen next. For a book where everything just felt right, Politano kept me guessing nonetheless.
I kept wondering if I could guess what was to come, and was delighted when the author proved me wrong over and over again. I adore this book and have added it to my rotation of books that are read several times a year.
Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her on her website.
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Grand Prize: Copy of Lady Jayne Disappears + 18pc Book Lover’s Basket
2nd Prize: Copy of Lady Jayne Disappears + Vintage Library Pendant Necklace
3rd Prize: Copy of Lady Jayne Disappears + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
October 17-October 28, 2017
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