Book review: Jane and the Man of the Cloth by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Man of the Cloth by Stephanie Barron

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had read the first of this series a long time ago because it’s Jane Austen and a mystery, what is there not to like? But as I recall, the debut novel didn’t grab me, and as my TBR list grows daily, I set this series aside. But the author also writes the Merry Folger mysteries set in Nantucket (as Francine Mathews), which I’ve really enjoyed, and I thought I’d give this series a second chance.
My impression of this book is more positive than my memory of the first novel in this series. The author incorporates phrases from Jane Austen’s works into the books, which is fun for Jane Austen devotees. In addition, this book has an interesting plot and while I don’t think the culprit was difficult to pick out, I like the indirect tribute to “Pride and Prejudice.”
It’s a nicely themed series and this book, at any rate, is a quick and engaging read.

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Sense and Sensibility (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Our daughter and I attended the Folger Shakespeare Library production of “Sense and Sensibility” last night. (Jim is, to put it in an understated way, not a devotee of Jane Austen, describing her works as nothing but “yakety yak”). Needless to say, he was not invited to come to the play.

Adaptations of Jane Austen’s works can generally be lumped into two categories: period melodramas that take every word written by this brilliant author as proclamations from the deity versus lighthearted comedies (a la the movie “Clueless”) that recognize the works for what they are—satiric commentary on societal foibles.

This production of “Sense and Sensibility” definitely falls into the latter category. The set is creatively imagined, with the furniture mounted on wheels so that the actors move quickly and ingeniously to new positions to mark a different setting. Several of the actors play dual roles, marked by the wearing or absence of glasses or a ruff (the highlight is the actor who plays Edward Ferrars also playing his drunken younger brother). And the aisles of the theatre are also considered fair game in this staging.

The production is lighthearted, well acted, and does not take itself too seriously. It is high energy rather than languorous, impetuous rather than deliberate. We loved it (despite all the yakety yakking).

“Sense and Sensibility” is playing at the Folger through October 30 (