Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.
Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true
authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
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Oxfordshire, Present Day
AFTER FIVE YEARS at Oxford, Sophie Collingwood had mastered the art of reading while walking. She knew every curve of the Thames Path from Oxford to Godstow, and had the ability to sense and avoid oncoming pedestrians. This was a useful skill for someone so ab sorbed by the books she read that she often pictured herself at the center of whatever romance or mystery or adventure played out on their pages. On a sunny day in July, she was walking opposite the wide expanse of Port Meadow, where horses and cattle stood grazing as they had for cen turies. On the river a quartet of picnickers were making their way back downstream in a punt, and the smooth sound of the flat-bottomed boat gliding across the water seemed the perfect accompaniment to the day. In the midst of this idyll, Sophie spotted, over the top of her well-worn copy of Mansfield Park, a young man lying under a tree, reading. His artfully relaxed