Antiquarian bookseller P J Allen was browsing the shelves at a book auction when a cursory glance at the opening paragraphs of one rather grubby and unprepossessing volume brought him up short. His instant thought was – “ Austen?” His second was "don't be so silly". He acquired the book anyway, if only to show himself how mistaken he was. Reading it however, revealed, as he himself puts it, so many correspondences of though, interest, detail, experience and sometimes even expression between the novel and Jane’s juvenilia, letters and other published works, he found himself veering towards belief.
This work is the culmination of his research and reading and makes a compelling and fascinating case that that novel – Two Girls of Eighteen – is in fact a missing work by Jane Austen. This is a must for all fans of Jane Austen.
by M Morgan
From the title I thought it would be a spoof like the Canadian one some years ago but actually it's not. It's very serious and well researched. It doesn't deal with the Great Novels at all but only with her development as a writer. Confused by the belief that 'To please we must comply withthe reigning taste' she spends much of her early years trying to imitate the popular fiction of the time. But she wanted to teach and Gothic fiction or Romance did not enable this and would not do. The story tells of a loss of confidence and her eventual discovery of what she should be doing.
by Lesley J. Arrowsmith
An extremely interesting read
Although I am not a great lover of the works of Jane Austen, I was intrigued by the idea of the discovery of a lost novel; and Mr. Allen’s recovery of this text did not disappoint. It will be of considerable interest to two particular groups of readers. First, the novel itself, even if a little imperfect, will entertain those general readers who like the novels of Miss Austen; or, more widely, the fiction her era, especially the literary work of the women of this period.
Second, the text and Mr. Allen’s arguments in favour of accepting it as a work by Jane Austen should be of great interest to the literary academic community. I am a retired university lecturer in English literature, but this genre and era lie outside my areas of expertise. Nonetheless, I found Mr. Allen’s detailed researches and arguments quite convincing and am happy to accept this as a lost novel of Jane Austen. Doubtless Austen experts may take a different view, but simply opening this text to further academic discourse is the best of all reasons for such experts to engage with it.
by Bruce Ingraham