First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

A bookish observation

It’s a melodrama of the best kind.

My first impression of Charlie Lovett’s “First Impressions” was positive and that impression played out well throughout the book. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a book about books, one of my favorite genres. The story switches chapter by chapter between Jane Austen’s world and the life of a present day character, Sophie Collingwood. It’s easy to read and flows at a good pace, not too fast and not too slow.

It wasn’t long after my reading was underway that the cynic in me undermined several of the characters. I identified a couple of the characters as ingratiating predators; I wasn’t sure whether or not the author intended me to think so.  On the positive side, I connected closely with Jane Austen’s fictional friendship embracing the elderly Reverend Mansfield.  Mistakenly I was wary of Sophie’s Uncle Bertram. In this day and age, a single middle aged unmarried man, given free access to a child is questionable. I think I should stop watching the News, it’s taken away so much of my trust in the world. Is it that I can no longer look at the world with rose colored glasses or am I just cautious.  With my first impressions firmly embedded, I read onward and discovered that I had to suspend belief and go with the story-line.

It’s a melodrama of the best kind.

If you are a lover of Jane Austen’s life and work, this story will very likely fascinate. My experience with this book was a  little different because Jane Austen’s novels don’t appeal to me, I’m not keen on domestic dramas, real or imagined. I hate unnecessary fuss and bother, Jane Austen’s stories are anchored in them.  I’d prefer a well written mystery with a reason for being, something I can learn from and be surprised by, but not driven to misery in the process.  Don’t let me mislead you about my knowledge of Jane Austen’s stories, I’ve never read anything by her, my lack of intimate knowledge of Ms Austen’s stories may obscure and accurate understanding of her work, however this ignorance did not detract my enjoyment of Charlie Lovett’s mystery.

The story is plot driven and a fun mystery that keeps you turning the pages. However along the way the book beautifully describes the love of the mind by pairing Jane Austen’s character and the present day heroine, Sophie, with their elderly mentors. Both heroines are separated by time and both are guided and encouraged by these well educated gentlemen. I highlighted many passages that I felt were profound insights into love, not of the romatic kind, but the love of an individual’s mind and spirit.

I was torn between giving it a three or four star rating due to it’s “light” reading nature. The last few chapters reminded me of a silent movie where the audience boo the villain and cheer on the hero, and feel despair for the heroine who is tied up and about to be seriously damaged. In the end I gave it four stars because I enjoyed the book very much and couldn’t put it down. Although the plot became a bit far fetched I was able to accept and enjoy the story.

It was a fun light read, it deserves four stars for the enjoyment it gave me.

This blog was written by Diane Challenor 2015
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