Jane Austen’s First Love, by Syrie James – Excerpt #1 – Holiday Blog Tour Stop

First LoveWhen the opportunity to join this tour was announced I jumped on it as I am interested in anything inspired by Jane Austen.  Oh and it didn’t hurt that to date I have read everything written by Syrie James.  This is my favorite cover yet, I have framed the beautiful postcard that came with my copy of the book.

I am not yet done with the book and will return with my feature but for now enjoy the preview provided by the publisher and the excerpt from chapter 1 provided by James.  I read this excerpt and knew I was going to enjoy visiting Jane’s first love with her. Still pinching myself that I have the opportunity to share this with you. Be sure to keep reading this post as there is a fabulous giveaway announcement you will not want to miss.


In the summer of 1791, fifteen-year-old Miss Jane Austen is determined to accomplish three things: to do something useful, write something worthy, and fall madly in love. While visiting at Goodnestone Park in Kent for a month of festivities in honor of her brother’s engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets the boy-next-door—the wealthy, worldly, and devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to Bifrons Park, and hopefully her heart! Like many of Jane’s future heroes and heroines, she soon realizes that there are obstacles—social, financial, and otherwise—blocking her path to love and marriage, one of them personified by her beautiful and sweet tempered rival, Charlotte Payler.

Unsure of her own budding romance, but confident in her powers of observation, Jane distracts herself by attempting to maneuver the affections of three other young couples. But when her well-intentioned matchmaking efforts turn into blundering misalliance, Jane must choose between following her own happily-ever-after, or repairing those relationships which, based on erroneous first impressions, she has misaligned.


The summer of 1791 is so firmly fixed in my memory that I believe I can never forget it; every detail is as fresh and vivid as if it occurred only yesterday, and looking back, there are times when it seems as if my life never really began until that moment—the moment when I first met him.

It was a letter which instigated this fond remembrance—a letter I wrote to my sister Cassandra many years past, which she came upon the other day by happenstance. It was a cold morning in late November, and we had recently returned to our apartment at Bath following a lovely, all too brief holiday in Lyme. I was setting the table for breakfast, when I observed my sister seated by the window in the drawing-room, deeply engrossed in reading. An open box of old correspondence lay at her feet.

“What are you reading, Cassandra?” inquired I.

“One of your old letters,” replied she, smiling. “I came upon this box while I was tidying the wardrobe, and could not prevent myself from taking a look inside.”

“My letters? Why do you keep those old things? Re-reading them can hardly prove to make lively entertainment of a morning.”

“Oh, but it does. You wrote this one in September 1796 when you were in Kent. Here you speak of a Miss Fletcher: She wore her purple muslin, which is pretty enough, though it does not become her complexion. There are two traits in her character which are pleasing; namely, she admires Camilla, and drinks no cream in her tea.” Cassandra laughed softly. “You are a most candid and amusing writer, Jane.”

“I am flattered that you think so, but I still say: what is the point of reading my old correspondence? It is full of nothing but useless details which can no longer be of interest to anybody.”

“I beg to differ. Reading them is a source of great pleasure for me, dearest.” Turning the letter over, she continued, “Look what you write here: We went by Bifrons and I contemplated with a melancholy pleasure the abode of him, on whom I once fondly doated.”

I paused, the spoon which I had been holding forgotten in my hand. That single sentence caught at my heart, of a sudden bringing back to mind a person, and a time and place, which I had not thought about in many years—and an attachment which I thought I had long since got over.
Cassandra looked at me, empathy in her eyes. “You are thinking about that summer, are you not?”

I nodded.

“How many years has it been?”

I did the mental calculation. “Twelve and a half years.”

She carefully refolded the letter. “They say that memories fade in time—but where particular people and events are concerned, I have not found that to be the case.”

I knew that she was thinking of Tom, her own lost love, who had tragically died so many years before. Our eyes caught and held across the room.

“Nor have I.”

She came to me, removed the spoon from my hand, and set it on the table; then she took me in her embrace. “You are older and wiser now, Jane. But it is only natural that you should think of him. I know what he meant to you.”

So saying, she kissed my cheek, handed me the letter, and left the room.
I sank into the nearest chair, immediately opening and scanning the letter until I found the phrase which was of such interest to me. Then I held the missive to my chest, as a hundred memories came flooding back…

* * * * * * * * * * * *

At that point of my life when this history occurs, I had attained my fifteenth year. I was young, I know it; but does age matter? Did Juliet, not fourteen, love her Romeo any less? What of Pyramus and Thisbe’s burning passion? Ought we to discount their raw and overpowering feelings, simply because of their youthful age? I think not. When he was near, at times my heart did not beat to its regular rhythm; in so many ways, I thought he was my perfect match.
To my mind, particularly when one took into account my education and the manner in which I was raised, I was, at fifteen, a grown-up person in every way; indeed, I felt as mature and worldly as my sister, who was three years my senior. I was not beautiful, like Cassandra; my hair was far too curly, and neither fashionably light nor dark, but a shade of brown somewhere in between; even so, I received compliments on my hazel eyes and clear complexion, and was often told that I bore a strong resemblance to my father and my six brothers, who I believed to be handsome.

I lived in the house where I was born, Steventon Rectory, in the county of Hampshire. Although not grand or elegant by any means, it was a dwelling worthy of a scholar and a gentleman and had provided me with all the comforts and joys of a happy childhood. We had a lovely garden and a big old barn, where for years my brothers and sister and I had enjoyed holding home theatricals. I had done very little travelling outside of Hampshire, other than two brief intervals away at school, and one family excursion to east Kent to visit my elderly great-uncle at Sevenoaks. I was anxious to see the world.

I had been taking dancing lessons since I was a child and loved nothing more than the idea of a ball; but an idea was all it had been, for as much as I perceived myself to be an adult, my mother still forbade me from attending the assemblies at Basingstoke. This was the greatest cross I bore at the time, for I dreamt of three things in life: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling in love—and how could I ever fall in love if I had to wait nearly two years before Mamma would allow me to come out?

On Thursday morning, the 18th of March, 1791, I was in my dressing-room, a smallish chamber which communicated with my bedroom and had been especially fitted up for my sister and me. I adored every inch of that room, from the chocolate brown carpet, blue wallpaper, and comforting fireplace, to the painted bookshelves and cheerful striped curtains, for it was a place of quiet and refuge, where I could write in privacy and peace.

I was seated at the small table between the windows, above which hung a looking-glass and our Tonbridge-ware work-boxes, thoroughly engaged in composing a little play I had entitled The Visit, and was just considering the next line to be spoken, when I heard the tread of footsteps on the stairs and my mother’s voice ringing out:

“Jane! Jane! Come down! You are needed!”

“I am writing, Mamma!” I doubted very much that my reply would hold much weight with her, and sadly this proved to be the case.

My mother entered the room and stopped beside me, shaking her head and clicking her tongue. “Look at you, bent over that table like an interrogation point—do sit up straight, Jane! Put down your pen and come downstairs; we have work to do.”

“What kind of work?”

“I told you at breakfast! We still have all those shirts to make for Charles, and two new pairs of breeches, and who knows how many handkerchiefs. Cassandra and I have been working all morning, and with only two pairs of hands, it is slow going.”

“May I come down in an hour, Mamma? I am right in the middle of the most amazing scene: eight people are crowded into a tiny drawing-room which only has chairs for six. Two large persons will be obliged to sit on the laps of others—only imagine the hilarity which will ensue!”
“That can wait, Jane; this cannot.”

“But, Mamma! I have the whole dialogue in my head. If I stop now, I will forget! Did Shakespeare’s mother interrupt his efforts with a pen? Did Mozart’s father oblige him to sew gowns for his sister?”

My mother raised her eyes heavenward. “I know how much you enjoy your writing, Jane. Lord knows, we all love a good laugh now and then, and if any one understands the pleasures of composition, it is I—I flatter myself that my poetry is not entirely unreadable—but it is only a hobby, Jane: an amusement for the family. We are neither of us Mozart nor Shakespeare.”


Honored to be on the tour and share this except provided by James.  I know this book will be big success as there are so many Austenites out there all over the world.  A perfect gift for any one that loves, Jane, history or is looking for a good read.

Syrie I have read every historical fiction novel you have written and I hope that it will be necessary to dedicate more then a shelf to your writing if you keep this up.  Congrats!


0Syrie James, hailed as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings” by Los Angeles Magazine, is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels that have been translated into 18 languages. Her books have been awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Discover Great New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine. Syrie is a member of the WGA and lives in Los Angeles. Please visit her at syriejames.com, Facebook or say hello on Twitter @SyrieJames.




Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages

To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen’s First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the blog stops on the Jane Austen’s First Love Holiday Blog Tour.

Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the tour! Syrie’s unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents. Good luck to all!

Jane Austen’s First Love: A Novel, by Syrie James
Berkley Trade (Penguin USA) 2014 (400) pages
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-0425271353
eBook ISBN: 978-0698139268

Blog Tour

To find out more about the blog tour which runs through December 15th and its stops visit Syrie’s website: syriejames.com or visit Austenprose blog post: http://austenprose.com/2014/11/17/jane-austens-first-love-holiday-blog-tour/. Lastly, on twitter to follow the fun search hashtag #JAFLBlogTour.

About poofbooks

With a wave of the wand and a good book in hand travel to places and spaces beyond your imagination. Because reading does not require you to leave the comfort of your own living room or the bunny slippers behind. So if a vacation is not in your plans for this year, take a bookation, you will love it.
This entry was posted in Books, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen, Novel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to Jane Austen’s First Love, by Syrie James – Excerpt #1 – Holiday Blog Tour Stop

  1. Jaseena AL says:

    Sounds like a great book ! Looking forward to read it soon !

  2. ale cespedes says:

    ansiosa por poder leer este libro!! se ve muy lindo! espero que pronto en español lo pueda encontrar!

  3. Silvia says:

    I saw on a tv show once that ladies had to sew shirts with super tiny stitches & that it was something an ackomplished lady had as a skill. The book sounds fun!

  4. Michelle Fidler says:

    I love to read excerpts of books. Sounds good.

  5. syriejames says:

    Thanks poofbooks for having me here, it’s been great fun! I so appreciate your support–it means the world to me! 🙂

  6. Erika Messer says:

    As a true lover of Austenesque writing, I cannot wait to read this one 🙂 This one just appealed to me immediately and after reading the excerpts I am totally hooked and I am going to have to grab this from Amazon! Thank you PoofBooks for hosting a stop 🙂

  7. beth says:

    I want to read more and I hope I win!

  8. poofbooks says:

    Thanks for stopping by so glad you are enjoying the tour.

  9. Assya says:

    This excerpt makes me want to read more ! And such a beautiful cover, I love it. I hope I will be one of the lucky winner of the giveway. =) Thank you.

  10. Beth says:

    Yay!! A sneak peek!! Can’t wait to read this! And maybe when the giveaway! 😉

  11. Beth Wade says:

    Oh, great teaser! I admit I skimmed the excerpt a bit because I don’t want to spoil the excitement when I read the book. 😉

  12. Sushma says:

    That’s a captivating excerpt, can’t wait to read the book!

  13. Kimberly V says:

    I agree. This is a beautiful cover and it definitely makes you want to pick up the book and read it.

    • poofbooks says:

      I used to be under wraps about the way I felt about cover art and the power it has over my decisions. But I have spilled the beans over and over again in the blog so now I own it.

  14. JaneGS says:

    This was the first book by Syrie James that I’ve read, but you’ve inspired me to try some of the others. Great Excerpt.

  15. Anji says:

    Got a bit behind following the tour, Syrie, I’m the dust cloud in the far distance following everyone else!

    Your book is simply lovely and I was sad when it came to an end. Anyone who hasn’t already got it, why not? Go get it now!

  16. griperang says:

    I enjoyed visiting your blog, I can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for sharing. griperang at embarqmail dot com

  17. She carefully refolded the letter. “They say that memories fade in time—but where particular people and events are concerned, I have not found that to be the case.

    LOVE the Above quote. So true. This blog tour gets better and better at every stop.
    thanks for the chance to win.

  18. bn100 says:

    Nice excerpt

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  19. Michelle L says:

    Thank you for this excellent post.

  20. syriejames says:

    I keep old letters, too, and love to reread them. It’s so sad that people hardly ever write real letters anymore–emails are not the same. I’m fortunate that members of my family also used to keep letters–I have one that my maternal grandmother wrote on the day I was born!

    • poofbooks says:

      That is truly a special gift. I have a birth gift from mine that we had made for my niece when she was born. Custom/tradition was so important and that too fades away.

  21. syriejames says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments! I’m so glad you enjoyed the excerpt and hope your love the novel! And thank you poofbooks for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here! 🙂

  22. Raquel M. says:

    I love all things Austen. Beautiful cover.

  23. I am reading this book and am enjoying it immensely. Syrie’s telling of Jane’s story is so interesting. I am enjoying the blog tour.

  24. Denise Duvall says:

    How exciting! Reading about a teenage Jane’s young love! Thank you for the giveaway.

    • poofbooks says:

      I am always glad there are authors to do imagine if books. Kind of makes me feel Jane is never far.

    • syriejames says:

      Denise, it was exciting to discover Edward Taylor, and to bring to life this remarkable young man and his love story with the young Jane Austen. I hope you love Jane Austen’s First Love as much as I enjoyed writing it!

  25. Susan Heim says:

    This sounds like such a fun book. I’d love to read it. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  26. Finally an excerpt! And Jane being compared to Mozart and Shakespeare, what a treat! Thank you 🙂

    • poofbooks says:

      I was so excited to be part of the tour and did not realize I would have the honor of being Excerpt 1. It was a little surprise beginning for me but definitely made me want to see how the story unfolded.

  27. It’s a great book. You’ll love the rest of it.

    • poofbooks says:

      Thank you for stopping by. I am so excited to be going on vacation and be able to spend many quality hours with this book on the plane ride.

    • syriejames says:

      Thanks so much for sharing that you loved Jane Austen’s First Love! If you write a review, please let me know–I’d love to read it. Many thanks for your support, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog tour.

  28. I have kept all my the letters I have received – and have read them again – evokes many memories

    • poofbooks says:

      I have many but cannot say I have kept them all. I am a bit of a pack rack of so many things but I do think letter writing is a lost art that young people will never know or treasure. Thank you for stopping by and the comment.

  29. JeanMP says:

    Enjoyed reading the excerpt, this story sounds so good.

  30. Oh I love handwritten letters & reread mine ever so often. This sounds like a great book!

    • poofbooks says:

      I do as well but unfortunately it is very rare to receive one. I am inspired by the book and a basement full of them to do some letter reading this winter. And it seems it is starting early.

  31. schilds says:

    Great book. Loving the blog tour.

  32. schilds says:

    Really enjoying the blog tour! Great book.

  33. Caryl Kane says:

    Thank you for this post on Jane Austen’s First Love! I can’t wait to read more about Jane’s story. 🙂

    • poofbooks says:

      Really fun being part of the tour. And what an honor to be Excerpt #1 I did not realize that was going to be the case when we settled on this date. It is a wonderful novel to get lost in.

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