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Authors: Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Wandering Eye

BOOK: Jane and the Wandering Eye
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Praise for
Jane and the
Wandering Eye


“For this diverting mystery of manners, the third entry in a genteelly jolly series by Stephanie Barron, the game heroine goes to elegant parties, frequents the theater and visits fashionable gathering spots—all in the discreet service of solving a murder.”


The New York Times Book Review


“Charming period authenticity.”


Library Journal


“Stylish … this one will … prove diverting for hard-core Austen fans.”




“No betrayal of our interest here:
Jane and the Wandering Eye
is an erudite diversion.”


The Drood Review of Mystery


“A lively plot accented with the fascinating history … Barron’s voice grows better and better.”


from The Poisoned Pen


“A pleasant romp … [Barron] maintains her ability to mimic Austen’s style effectively if not so closely as to ruin the fun.”


The Boston Globe


“Stephanie Barron continues her uncanny recreation of the ‘real’ Jane Austen…. Barron seamlessly unites historical details of Austen’s life with fictional mysteries, all in a close approximation of Austen’s own lively, gossipy style.”


Feminist Bookstore News


Jane and the
Man of the Cloth


“Nearly as wry as Jane Austen herself, Barron delivers pleasure and amusement in her second delicious Jane Austen mystery…. Worthy of its origins, this book is a delight.”


Publishers Weekly


“If Jane Austen really did have the ‘nameless and dateless’ romance with a clergyman that some scholars claim, she couldn’t have met her swain under more heart-throbbing circumstances than those described by Stephanie Barron.”


The New York Times Book Review


“Prettily narrated, in true Austen style…. A boon for Austen lovers.”


Kirkus Reviews


“Historical fiction at its best.”


Library Journal


“The words, characters and references are so real that it is a shock to find that the author is not Austen herself.”


The Arizona Republic


“Stephanie Barron’s second Jane Austen mystery … is even better than her first…. A classic period mystery.”


The News and Observer
, Raleigh, NC


“Delightful … captures the style and wit of Austen.”


San Francisco Examiner


“Loaded with charm, these books will appeal whether you are a fan of Jane Austen or not.”


Mystery Lovers Bookshop News


Jane and the Unpleasantness
at Scargrave Manor


“Splendid fun!”


Star Tribune
, Minneapolis


“Happily succeeds on all levels; a robust tale of manners and mayhem that faithfully reproduces the Austen style—and engrosses to the finish.”


Kirkus Reviews


“Jane is unmistakably here with us through the work of Stephanie Barron—sleuthing, entertaining, and making us want to devour the next Austen adventure as soon as possible!”


—Diane Mott Davidson


“Well-conceived, stylishly written, plotted with a nice twist … and brought off with a voice that works both for its time and our own.”


from The Poisoned Pen


“People who lament Jane Austen’s minimal lifetime output … now have cause to rejoice.”


The Drood Review of Mystery


“A light-hearted mystery … The most fun is that ‘Jane Austen’ is in the middle of it, witty and logical, a foil to some of the ladies who primp, faint and swoon.”


The Denver Post


“A fascinating ride through the England of the hackney carriage … a definite occasion for pride rather than prejudice.”


—Edward Marston


“A thoroughly enjoyable tale. Fans of the much darker Anne Perry … should relish this somewhat lighter look at the society of fifty years earlier.”


Mostly Murder


“Jane sorts it all out with the wit and intelligence Jane Austen would display.
(four if you really love Jane Austen).”


Detroit Free Press




Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor:
Being the First Jane Austen Mystery


Jane and the Man of the Cloth:
Being the Second Jane Austen Mystery


Jane and the Wandering Eye:
Being the Third Jane Austen Mystery


Jane and the Genius of the Place:
Being the Fourth Jane Austen Mystery


Jane and the Stillroom Maid:
Being the Fifth Jane Austen Mystery


Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House:
Being the Sixth Jane Austen Mystery




Jane and the Ghosts of Netley
Being a Jane Austen Mystery


Dedicated with love to my sister,
Liz Ferretti—
she of the truest eye

Editor’s Foreword

journals to be edited for publication, finds the Georgian novelist at home in Bath for what would be her last Christmas spent in that city. It proved a time of excitement, intrigue, and loss—one of the most memorable seasons in Austen’s life. She celebrated her twenty-ninth birthday and bid farewell forever to a dear friend amid a sinister web of scandal and murder.

The familiarity with theatrical and artistic circles Austen displays in these pages will hardly shock those who study her life and work, for it has long been apparent that she possessed a cultivated taste and a fondness for playacting and dramatic composition. In editing the present volume, however, I found it necessary to consult a number of works pertinent to the theater and portraiture of the day.
The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons, and the London Stage
by Linda Kelly (New York: Random House, 1980) was a marvelous guide to one of the most exciting epochs (and families) in British theater.
Sir Thomas Lawrence: Portraits of an Age, 1790-1830
by Kenneth Garlick (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 1993) and
Richard and Maria Cosway: Regency Artists of Taste and Fashion
by Stephen Lloyd (Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1995) were also invaluable to one of my benighted ignorance.

My deepest thanks, however, must go to Elle Shushan, Manhattan gallery director of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge. Her knowledge and expertise in the world of Regency eye portraits is irreplaceable.

Stephanie Barron
Evergreen, Colorado

Chapter 1
Death Comes in Fancy Dress

12 December 1804

than my own, is invariably a stupid affair of some two or three hundred souls pressed elbow-to-elbow in the drawing-rooms of the great. Such an efflorescence of powder shaken from noble wigs! Such a crush of silk! And what general heartiness of laughter and exclamation—so that the gentler tones of one’s more subdued companions must be raised to a persistent roar, rendering most of the party voiceless by dawn, with only the insipid delights of indifferent negus and faltering meat pasties as recompense for all one’s trials.

So Fanny Burney has described a rout, in
and so I should be forced to record my first experience of the same, in a more modest volume I entitle simply
, had not Fate intervened to render my dissipation more intriguing. For last night I endured the most fearsome of crushes—a post-theatrical masquerade, forsooth, with myself in the role of Shepherdess—at no less exalted an address than Laura Place, and the Dowager
Duchess of Wilborough’s abode, with attendant hundreds of her most intimate acquaintance.

BOOK: Jane and the Wandering Eye
8.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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