Book Review: First Impressions by Charles Lovett

I had to read this book because it involves a mystery regarding the original authorship of Pride and Prejudice and also a fictional story of Jane Austen’s life. The book turned out to be quite impressive and fascinating, especially the tale of a young Jane Austen finding companionship and inspiration for her writing from an eighty year old friend.

The book alternates between two time periods. The first one follows the life of a young Jane who has just started her first novel and meets Richard Mansfield. They strike up a friendship and he becomes a sort of mentor to her who helps her gain confidence in her writing and also advises on her manuscripts. The other timeline deals with the life of Sophie Collingwood, a bibliophile and Jane Austen fan, struggling with the death of her beloved bibliophile uncle. She is also conflicted between two guys – one a publisher with a love for eighteenth century printed texts and the other a fellow Austen book lover. In the midst of all this, she gets involved in a mystery surrounding “First Impressions” – the original version of Pride and Prejudice which seems to have not been written by Jane at all. Sophie goes on a quest trying to prove that Jane didn’t plagiarize, find more about the relationship between Jane and Mansfield while also not getting killed.

For every book lover and especially Austen fans, this book is amazing in invoking wonderful images of old musty books, shelves full of old books from floor to ceiling, the pain of living in a house with a locked library and the terrifying thought that your favorite author might have plagiarized one of the best classics ever written. The fictional journey of Jane and her relationship with Mansfield is quite endearing and leaves us more in love with her and her works. On the whole, this book is less of a mystery and more of an ode to books and authors and book lovers which I thoroughly enjoyed and made me want to read P&P again.

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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