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When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies in debtor's prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.
When Aurelie decides to complete her father's unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother's disappearanceand perhaps even her father's death.
Author Joanna Davidson Politano's stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.
|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.
Read an Excerpt
Lady Jayne dreamed endlessly of escaping to something different, of living a fascinating and dramatic life — until she did.
~Nathaniel Droll, Lady Jayne Disappears
A few months earlier, Somerset, England
It must have been the rain that felt so wrong that day, nothing more. It spit at my face and drenched me. I huddled close to the safety of the Shepton Mallet Prison walls as a carriage progressed toward me down the broken street, lanterns swinging. No, it was everything. Everything felt wrong without Papa. But this night, it was something specific.
Perhaps it was the sleek carriage, coming to fetch me to my new home, that looked jarringly amiss in this section of town after dark. Why hadn't Aunt Eudora come in broad daylight so we could stand outside and relish our reunion, hugging and sinking into shared grief? Surely she knew this was not an area in which to linger once the candlelit windows of decent folk were shuttered. Damp fog clogged my senses, choking my shallow breaths. She was not ashamed simply because of the pickup location, was she? No, I was family.
Family that had been abandoned by them for years, though. Perhaps I expected too much.
I squinted at the vehicle as it neared and I frowned. The outline of a top hat, not a lady's plumage, filled the foggy windows. Who else would come to collect me?
What if, what if — and this would make a brilliant scene in a future novel — it was not an old widowed aunt coming for the lonely girl, but her own beloved father, alive and well?
The emotion of such a reunion billowed in me until I very nearly ripped open my trunks, right there in the rain, and pulled out a notebook to record the beauty of it.
Stop. I had to stop thinking about him.
The coachman reined in the puffing horses, who stamped their impatience in the foggy moonlight, and I held my breath, crouching back into the prison doorway. When the caped gentleman swung down into the rain, I longed for those blank pages even more. What a perfect villain, tall and dark-suited, a forbidding arch to his wide shoulders as he jogged through the puddles. Oh, to pin this man to paper with the exact words. But it was a generally understood rule among writers that the most brilliant ideas only came when one was not within reach of pen and paper.
Approaching, the man lifted his gaze to the prison, dark judgment etched deep in the brooding lines of his face. He removed his hat, nearly useless in the deluge, and swiped rain off his face with his sleeve. Upon spotting me in the shadows, his face darkened further, eyebrows hooding sharp eyes. He was more ominous close up. Threatening, even. I backed up until I hit the rough stone wall. And now, there was no one left to protect me. Not a single person who might report me missing to the constable. Like a kite with its string suddenly cut, I was alone.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
I'd never had to depend so fully on the Lord before this, and it seemed now he was all I had.
My nails dug into the dirty stone at my back. The storm swelled and rain pattered against my shoulders, pouring down my neck and soaking my dress. Why were we not running toward the carriage and huddling under its roof? The man squinted against the shower, as if waiting for me to speak and explain my presence. Yes, he felt it too. Something was wrong.
My small voice cut through the rain. "You are from Lynhurst Manor?" Perhaps I'd been mistaken, and Aunt Eudora's carriage was still on its way.
"Yes, I am." Rain dripped off the clumps of hair plastered to his forehead.
"Oh." But neither of us moved. Was he waiting for my permission? "These are both mine." I indicated my two weathered trunks, which only deepened his look of confusion. "I am Aurelie Harcourt."
Rotherham. So dark and sinister. Fitting.
After a few more awkward seconds, he reached for my elbow and propelled me toward the carriage. A head jerk toward the coachman sent the man scrambling toward my trunks. Certainly, those trunks were not of the same caliber as my new sapphire-colored dress, which billowed around my stockinged legs over layers of fabric in a sopping, yet stylish, mess. He must wonder which I was — rich or poor. Yes, that would explain the frown.
The first trunk thudded overhead as I mashed my dress through the too-small door and fell onto the front-facing seat, the man taking the one across from me. How did real ladies manage it every day? The dress was the finest article of clothing to ever touch my body, and despite having owned it for three days already, I did not know how to carry it on my slender frame. Even more so when it hung in wet yards of heavy cloth about me.
Perhaps it had been a foolish use of my scant funds, this costume designed to make me fit in when the rest of me did not. Even more foolish I'd been to give up my last pennies, assuming this wealthy family would hasten to meet all the future needs of a niece they had not seen fit to even meet before now. How fanciful I was.
But I had yet to locate Papa's savings, wherever it was. All those paychecks I'd gathered from Marsh House Press must amount to something that would sustain me. And with death freeing the man of his debts, I could use that money for whatever I needed.
I placed my soggy hat on the seat beside me and wrung my loosened hair onto the floor of the carriage. "It soaks right through a person, does it not?"
The man peeled off his wet coat, struggling out of the sleeves. By instinct born of a lifetime of recognizing need and rising to it, I reached across the space to assist him. When my fingertips touched his warm linen shirtsleeve beneath the coat, he pulled back, slinging his coat to the side, blinking at me with a mixture of shock and mild offense.
I jerked my hands away and backed into my seat with a thud, hurt warming my wet cheeks. Of course, this was a different world than Shepton Mallet Prison. Women were not for soothing and helping unless they were paid to do it.
A grunt outside drew my attention to the window. The coachman yanked in vain at my second trunk, which had taken three men to hoist outside hours ago. I bit my lip, picturing its contents. He'd never lift it alone.
With a dark look, the man across from me stood and forged back into the rain to assist the coachman. Both men strained to lift the precious cargo between them, and they slung it with a thud and a crack onto the back. Lightning pierced the black sky as the two men ran for the cover of the carriage.
Mr. Rotherham hefted himself back inside, now coatless and dripping wet. Almost immediately the carriage lurched forward, reins jingling, and I collapsed against the leather seat. Just that quick, we were leaving behind the entirety of my short life.
Don't look back. Don't look back. Don't — But I did. Fingertips clutching the window frame, I pressed my face to the glass for one last lingering glimpse of home.
"Have you left something behind?"
"No." I moved back into the seat, pushing my shoulder blades into the leather cushions. Leaving that place was the death of so many things.
The man recovered his breath for several moments, flexing until he found comfort in the tiny rear-facing seat. I fingered the flannel blanket beside me. He would not want me to hand it to him. But when his trembles convulsed into a full-body shiver, the sight compelled me forward, urging the blanket on him. He accepted it without glancing at me and pressed it into his wet clothes to soak up the rain. When he looked up, he pinched his lips in a reserved smile, revealing two fleeting dimples framing his mouth like quotation marks, and I finally relaxed a bit.
"I assure you," he said, "there are plenty of stones at Lynhurst. You need not bring any with you."
"They're books." I shivered, watching the shapes of thatched homes fly by. It must be utterly clear to him that I was a fake, not one who belonged at Lynhurst Manor. Up until a few days ago, my life had consisted of a one-room cell, my gregarious, boisterous father, and our three pieces of furniture. And stories, of course. He'd shown me how to thrive within our odd surroundings — reciting psalms, caring for the weak, loving people — but he'd never taught me to act as one of the elite class in which he himself had been raised. There had been no need.
Homesickness engulfed me. But how could anyone be homesick for such a place?
"Thank you for indulging me, with the books." I indicated the back of the carriage where my trunks lay.
"Of course. Books are essential nourishment to the mind."
This answer begged more questions, but I closed my lips. Any little word might be the wrong one. Lantern light bounced over his face as the carriage hurtled forward.
"I suppose they are the normal fare." The man's voice broke through my thoughts, deep and forced. "Miss Austen, Clennam, Wordsworth, and perhaps a few hymnals."
He really was quite poor at making conversation. "I prefer the serials."
"Of course." His slight frown, a mild look of judgment, turned my stomach. As if my love of serial novels helped him to determine I resided lower than him on the social ladder. Wouldn't he be surprised to find that most of the books filling my heavy trunk were blank.
I pinched my lips to keep from spilling my delicious secret — the one that gave me more worth than anyone could guess. If only I dared say the words aloud. Pardon, sir. Have you heard of Nathaniel Droll? Well, I happen to know the real man who masquerades under that pen name. Ah, the look of shock that would splay over his arrogant face.
"Novel characters make the finest friends, so I can hardly fault your attachment." He straightened the hat that jostled on his head to the rhythm of the carriage wheels and smiled. "Flesh-and-blood people are more complicated and difficult to know."
"I should say not. So many people are closed up, all tucked inside themselves, yet they bloom open in beautiful ways if you would only take interest in them."
The flick of his eyebrow hinted at disapproval, driving me deeper back into my seat as my face heated. I had done it again.
I tipped my head back against the cushioned seat and allowed the carriage to carry me and my heavy thoughts toward a life where this disapproval would be normal fare. "I hope I did not offend you, sir."
"It was merely a surprisingly deep answer to what I believed a simple question."
"Life is deep, Mr. Rotherham." Oh so deep. Especially when it is a series of intense moments all piling on top of you, fighting for your urgent attention every day. "Which is why books are such a lifeline. Stepping into the pages of someone else's story means joining them in their normal life and pretending that you, for one liberating moment, will also become whole and healthy and wonderfully normal by the end."
His eyes, lifting into a pleasant crescent shape with his smile, assessed me with the softness of grace. "You've managed quite well in the life you were dealt. How were you not mired in sadness every day at a place like that?"
My first instinct was to inform him that Charles Dickens himself spent several years of his childhood in Marshalsea Debtor's Prison when his father languished there for numerous debts, for no one could doubt Dickens had made a success of his life in the end. But I merely waved off his comment with a simple reply. "There are many good days that outweigh the bad. And besides, imaginations are transportable. They even follow one into poverty."
His face dipped back into the shadows. Laughing? Or disapproving?
No matter. The stress of the week weighed me down much like the wet dress I wore. We'd only buried Papa days ago. "And might I ask who has the pleasure of escorting me?"
"I am a family friend staying at Lynhurst for the summer." He cleared his throat. "They did not feel they could trust so delicate a matter to a servant, no matter how faithful."
"I see." But I did not. What was delicate about the matter of bringing one's niece home?
Long, silent moments passed before the carriage paused for an iron gate to grind open. A crest seemed to seal the gates shut. Had we reached our destination so quickly?
I leaned into the window for a glimpse of the place, but the muted glow of lamplight showed precious little. Three ... no, four cupolas speared the dark clouds shrouding the roofline. Surely the estate couldn't be as fanciful and amazing as Papa's wild stories, but anything less would not have captured the imagination of such a man. Propping myself higher, I strained to see the outline of the fabled Lynhurst Manor through the muggy dark.
After endless minutes of rolling up the unlit gravel drive, the carriage veered left and halted mere feet from the great house. A large hanging light illuminated an arched stone entryway with double wooden doors not unlike the solid front entrance of the prison. Perhaps I'd feel at home here after all. The mansion's gray exterior wall extended far outside the little circle of lantern light, into what seemed to be eternity.
It was true, then. I'd hardly believed Papa's stories of this place, for what family could live in such wealth while their brother languished in poverty? A mere pittance of their wealth might have freed Papa years ago. Steeling myself against bitterness, I tried to summon an explanation, but could not.
At least the rain had stopped.
Mr. Rotherham alighted. As I pushed off the seat, he held up a palm to stop me. "You'd best let me prepare them first, Miss Harcourt."
I sank into the seat, the damp feel of my thick skirts beneath me. "Prepare them for what?"
He paused just outside the carriage, a rare smile flicking over his face. "We all rather believed you to be a collection of bags and trunks."
"I beg your pardon?"
"The solicitor had instructed Lady Pochard to collect the belongings of the distant relative who had died in debtor's prison."
Distant relative? I frowned.
"You can imagine her surprise when she finds out exactly what this relative's belongings include." He shook his hat and replaced it. "Wait here. I'll return for you when I've broken the news to her."
"Welcome back, Mr. Rotherham."
Silas strode through the double doors held open by the butler, who ushered him into the deeply shadowed hall tinged with lemon freshness on wood-paneled walls. A slight bow, then Digory's aged hand came out to accept Silas's coat. The weight of it jerked his arm down, but his face maintained the placid butler mask. "I trust your errand was pleasant."
"Pleasant as expected." He stamped wetness from his shoes and strode through the arched front hall to the drawing room where Lady Pochard waited. How was one to answer these meaningless questions, really? A fine day today, is it not, sir? How was your walk? I trust you are in good health this morning. He should tell them the day was terrible, he had witnessed a murder, and he'd walked to the moon, just to see what they would do.
What a stark contrast from the girl waiting in the carriage. Everything she said meant something, her sentences plump and juicy with originality. Fresh, and delightfully odd.
"Good evening, Lady Pochard. I'm surprised to see —"
"Well, have you fetched them?" Lady Eudora Eustice Pochard huddled in her wheeled chair in the bay of heavily draped windows. The fireplace glowed behind her, giving a soft yet eerie light to this red-and-gold gilded room of her ancestors. Oh yes, he had fetched them. Both trunks ... as well as the additional piece of "baggage."
"Yes, my lady. Every last belonging of a Mr. Harcourt of Shepton Mallet."
"He is dead?" Digory's faithful-butler mask shattered. "No! Mr. Harcourt —"
A daggered look from Lady Pochard sliced the end off his sentence. The poor man's Adam's apple bobbed, wiry hands working at his sides.
Silas tried again. "As to what I'm to do with —"
"I've told you. All the trunks are to be stowed in the rafters. Unless you have taken it upon yourself to look through the deceased man's belongings to decide their value is greater than attic fodder."
"I have only glimpsed one belonging, my lady, and you will hardly wish to keep it in your attic." Why did he tiptoe around the truth? It wasn't as if it was his fault, any of this.
"Out with it, then." The woman's aged mouth puckered. "I've no patience for your witticisms, Mr. Rotherham. Speak quickly."
Excerpted from "Lady Jayne Disappears"
Copyright © 2017 Joanna Davidson Politano.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This mysterious, gothic tale was full of strange characters and secrets that always felt just beneath the surface. The author did a great job of creating an atmosphere that left me wondering who to trust and what had really happened to the elusive Lady Jayne. Aurelie Harcourt was a strange mix of two worlds in this novel. On the one hand, she was fairly accurate at reading the nature of a person. I say fairly accurate, because all was not as it seemed in her strange and moody extended family. On the other hand, she was naive about society and rules, and sometimes revealed too much in her writing. I loved the way the author kept me guessing until the last portion of the story, when all was revealed. I am usually able to determine key villains and their reasons for treachery while reading, but not this time! It was delightful to see the way the author creatively and satisfyingly wove it all together!
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well-written, held my interest, and as a mystery- lover, satisfied that part of me to a large extent. At this point in life, my interest is seldom in a romantic novel, but the romance in this is not overwhelming. As a Christian, I appreciate a deeper meaning & moral value in fiction, and you will find it here. I recommend this book & look forward to her next novel.
What a wonderful debut novel. I thought that Aurelie Harcourt is a fabulous heroine - in every sense of the word. I loved this book! I look forward to reading more novels by this author.
Lady Jayne Disappears started out slowly and difficult for me to understand but once I got into the story, I really enjoyed it! I think the prologue may have confused me! Aurelie Harcourt was an interesting character who played an unusual part in the book. The book is well written with a different plot. I recommend it to others who enjoy regency romantic suspense. I won my copy of Lady Jayne Disappears in a Melissa Jaegers giveaway. This is my honest opinion.
A masterpiece of Regency romance, Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano is a real treat. "God, where do I belong?" This is the desperate cry of Aurelie Harcourt, daughter of the famous author, Nathaniel Droll, who dies in debtor's prison. Aurelie is then taken in by rich relatives. Trying to hide her past and her identity, Aurelie searches for her mother, Lady Jayne, and her sense of belonging throughout the book. I loved so many characters in this book, both good and bad. Or maybe it was how Politano eventually showed us the deeper workings of each individual's heart. Nelle, a servant, shows the love of Jesus when the rich, religious relatives are standoffish and cruel. Other people had surprising character traits that are best discovered by reading the book, rather than spoilers. God is woven in and out of the story with the ease of an accomplished basketmaker who deftly pulls each reed throughout the latticework of the others. Aurelie believes Him to be Sovereign and capable of answering the prayers of her confused heart. Lady Jayne Disappears is chock full of quotables. A few are here: "Shame is reserved for those who disappoint God, not people." "If books were alcohol, he'd be the worst drunk in history." I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own.
Lady Jayne Disappears is masterfully written and completely captivating. Each page is an indulgence of beautiful words, every chapter hints at hidden meanings and elusive truths. Aurelie Harcourt is a heroine worthy of readerly adoration. She is genuine, compassionate, and (despite her insecurities) an enormously talented storyteller. Silas Rotherham is observant, receptive, and protective. He plays his role as leading man with excellence and intelligence. This book is simply extraordinary! I highly recommend it and eagerly anticipate future works from this promising author. I requested the opportunity to read this through the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
This is Ms. Politano’s first book and I know without a doubt I will want to read anything she publishes! What a talented writer! I was hooked after I read the first page! The setting is in England during the 1860’s. Debtor’s prisons were notorious then. Those who owed were locked up until they could pay their debts or someone else would pay for them. Aurelie Harcout grew up in one such prison with her father. He was a famous writer with the penname of Nathaniel Droll. He dies and without finishing the ending to his novel, “Lady Jayne Disappears”. She purposes to finish it under her father’s professional name. All she knows of his wealthy family are the stories he has told. Lady Jayne was her mother. Now left in total poverty and all alone, she is summoned and escorted to the infamous Lynhurst Manor, her father’s family home. She had never met his family. When she arrived they were expecting his personal affects, not a young woman! Although she grew up in the prison, she is a beautiful, articulate, young woman with strong character. Entering the world outside would have been enough of transition for her, but to be thrust into high society with such a cold, unwelcoming, secretive family was over the top. Though she was only 20, her maturity and strength allowed her to cope with such dignity and grace. I love her sweet and innocent spirit. This is a wholesome Christian mystery thriller. The plot was outstanding! There were so many surprising developments and totally unexpected turns that I couldn’t put the book down. Don’t’ expect to pre-guess the outcome of any part and prepare to be astonished over and over. I am finding it difficult to write this review as how to you describe a masterpiece! I can say this; you will WANT to read this book! Ms. Politano has been “engraved” into my favorite author’s list. I cannot wait to read her next book in 2018. I hope she writes many many more! I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.
I have been so looking forward to reading this debut novel by Joanna Davidson Politano! I obviously had no idea what to expect and can happily say that I quite enjoyed it! I was intrigued by the idea behind the story - a young woman searching for answers to finish her father’s novel and finally know the truth herself. The story drew me in from the first and kept me up until the early hours of the morning, having to know how it was going to end! Ms. Politano has a very unique writing style that I found very engrossing! I’ve not often read stories that alternate between a first person perspective and another character’s observations and I have found I really enjoy it. I knew exactly what Aurelie was thinking, while at the same time, I was anticipating the story switching to Silas’ view so I could know what his thoughts on the matter. I relished getting to know these characters and found myself forgetting at times that they were fictional. Aurelie is so honest and straightforward, without the air of sophistication her family clings to so thoroughly. I did find her a bit immature at times, though based on her upbringing and the age of her character, it actually suited her. That didn’t stop me from wanting to shake some sense into her a time or two, though. But, I think that made her even more realistic. She shares much deeper thoughts in conversations with Silas, and found herself simply wanting to fit in with her vapid relations. I also really enjoyed the mystery surrounding Lynhurst Manor and the illusive Lady Jayne. Ms. Politano definitely kept me on my toes, with the various twists and turns, until I wasn’t at all sure what would happen next! The ending actually really surprised me, something that doesn’t happen very often, though I had figured out one clue beforehand. I did find the story a bit disjointed at times, losing several days between chapters, or simply a change in scenery that confused me for a few sentences. Also, I’m no historian by any stretch of the word, but I did notice a couple things that seemed a bit out of place in the time period - mainly just some words and thoughts that seemed rather modern for the setting. Though, I don’t believe I’ve read any other books set in England during the mid 1800s, so it could very well just be me. Overall, I found this story to be incredibly engrossing and didn’t wanted to put it down! With a mystery that kept me guessing and characters that became dear friends, I would highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction with a twist. I also can’t want to learn more about this author’s next book! *My thanks to the publisher for my complimentary copy of this book! I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Lady Jayne Disappears was a memorable historical read with a definite gothic vibe going throughout the book. I think what I really liked was the fact that Aurelie, the heroine, was a master storyteller who knew just the way to draw the listeners into her fascinating stories. And this is her story: of a life lived in debtor’s prison with a dearly beloved father who was a very famous storyteller himself. Hearing stories from her father about his family home, estranged relatives, and the love he had for her dear mother, Lady Jayne. Aurelie is on a quest to finish the story her father started and to find out the truth about her mother and father, her family home, and the family she has now come to live with. Secret trysts, mysterious happenings, eerie goings on, and true love, all made this story very suspenseful. I enjoyed how the author really showed how great an imagination an author has and just how some people are born to tell a story. I myself am thankful for storytellers. This one had an intriguing plot with an ingenious start that had me glued to the pages and oftentimes flabbergasted and quite unsure like Aurelie in how her story was going to turn out, especially with some of the crazy twists and turns. So just when you thing you finally have a grasp of what is going on… think again. Every page kept me in suspense making this one a hard to put down read. I received a copy of this novel for free. I was not required to post a review and all views and opinions are my own.
This was such an interesting and enjoyable read. This was a debut novel for Joanna and it was fantastic. There were so many twists and turns. I did not want to put this down. I loved Aurelie and she has an interesting family. I look forward to many more books by this author if they can be this good and unique. I received this book from Revell for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Will she find the answers she seeks...or die trying? Rarely does a cover and/or title become the deciding factor on whether I want to read a book. But Lady Jayne Disappears was one of the exceptions. I didn't even read the back cover blurb before deciding that I wanted to read this book. The use of grayscale and a dramatic 'vanishing' font made for a very mysterious and effective image. There are several types of debut books, ranging from “I can't even finish this” to “this book was so good I wish there were more books available from this author.” Lady Jayne Disappears was definitely in the latter category. It was truly hard to believe that this is Joanna Davidson Politano's debut novel! I was hooked by this Gothic romance from the start! A couple of historical anachronisms did not deter my enjoyment of the story one iota. I was very quickly immersed in Joanna Davidson Politano's richly mysterious atmosphere peopled with characters that are never as they first appear and all have hidden motives of one kind or another. This deliciously spooky novel had more twists and turns than an English manor and I was quite surprised by some of the final revelations! Lady Jayne Disappears is a wonderful read that is not to be missed! And I will be watching this new author with great interest. (I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.)
What a debut! It’s been awhile since I’ve been incredibly impressed with a debut! Mystery, intrigue, more mystery, romance and a totally captivating story. This was one of those reads I had to finish in one sitting. It was haunting, unique and not all characters turned out as you thought. There were a couple pieces I wanted to know more about at the end, but even with that, I so enjoyed this journey. I also loved that many characters were not exactly as they first appeared. With each new layer peeled back, Politano revealed deeper levels and deeper reasons for a character’s behavior. Misunderstandings, revelations, and faith all make up this entertaining and fantastic debut! Have you had the chance to read this debut? (Thank you to Revell for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.) Originally posted at https://musingsofjamie.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/lady-jayne-disappears-by-joanna-davidson-politano-book-review/
Lady Jayne Disappears is absolutely enchanting, utterly romantic, and deliciously original! Aurelie proves to be a sweet, loving, genuine character with a touch of endearing naïveté as she navigates this new world filled with rules and secrets. I loved the deep, first person narrative. As she embraces her writing and the world of aristocracy, she struggles to find her voice amongst the negative. We get to see some of Silas' (our hero
What it's about: Aurelie Harcourt's life is anything but normal. But she doesn't know anything different. Growing up in a debtor's prison along side her father, her life consists of bringing life and love to those around her. Her father has made a living of writing a continuous story under a pen name about the life of Lady Jayne, his love, Aurelie's mother. Aurelie's father unexpectedly dies she knows she needs to carry on his story, and find the true identity of her mother. Her life unexpectedly takes a turn where she ends up at her father's childhood home and as she tries to fit in with her unfamiliar family, she uses the only outlet she knows...continuing her father's legacy as pen writer Nathaniel Droll. Her eyes are opened to a whole different world and secrets come to light that may do more harm than good. What will become of the Harcourt family and legacy with these new found secrets? Will it destroy them or bring them closer together? And will the true identity of Nathaniel Droll be revealed? What I thought: Slow in parts, but overall, a good read! The story line and plot kept the reader engaged throughout the whole story and the unexpected end made for a great plot twist! There were some parts I was a bit confused about...like where/how the mysterious people appeared. I enjoyed the creativity of story line though. Very intriguing and different than what I have read before. Not suspenseful, but a bit mysterious with a dash of romance intertwined throughout. I liked how it started in the "present" at the beginning and jumped to the past to bring the reader up to speed as to how the main character ended up where she did. Would you read it? If you enjoy something different, light, a bit mysterious (think like foggy, dark alley with shadowy figures in the 1800's mysterious), then you will enjoy this book. You can't go wrong with it. A perfect book for a rainy/snowy day! Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.
Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano is an exciting and complex debut. I've been anticipating this book for a LONG time! In fact, I added it to my TBR "shelf" way early in the year. The premise of a young lady in Victorian England secretly writing under a pen name while trying to solve a mystery connected to her own family just sounded so intriguing! And, it was. The one word that sums up the feeling of this story: ALLURING. From start to finish, I was impressed by the character growth, vibrancy of setting, and well-told mystery arc. While Aurelie's naivete was frustrating at times (to me, the reader), it truly is an asset to the story. It both excuses her innocence when it comes to her almost nonexistent knowledge of society norms and justifies her experience and manner when she's faced with the realistic plight of common people whom society deems inferior. These seemingly contradictory facets of her character made me like her all the more --- and, they are what drew the hero of the story to recognize her unique and compassionate nature. My two favorite aspects of this story were the romance and the wonderfully deep love of literature acknowledged by the characters and observed by the reader ;). The romance cannot be commented on *no spoilers here* past saying it is as sweet as I hoped it would be and as surprising at times with its tenderness and depth. The book and story love, however, are wonderful bookworm tendencies for the people of that time AND a nod to story in itself. It's delightful. Victorian society is the perfect backdrop for the many twists, secrets, and mystery of Lady Jayne Disappears. All this combine with the romance to form a Dickensian-like tale of belonging and purpose. It's a treat for lovers of historical romance and drama! I eagerly look forward to whatever Joanne pens next. Thank you to Revell publishers and Netgalley for a complimentary copy of this novel. This is my honest review.
Lady Jayne Disappears, by Joanna Davidson Politano, published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2017, 412 pages. I have often tried to create a story that was within or attached to another story and have the two stories run in tandem with each other. Politano has done so successfully. Aurelie Harcourt finds herself fatherless and homeless, sent to the dark Lynhurst Manor which turns out to be darker than the debtors prison where she grew up. Her luggage for the short trip: a few trunks filled with books … or rather, notebooks (shh!). Without giving too much away, Aurelie moves from one prison to another, her trunks and her faith her only solace. Each chapter begins with a quote from a book called “Lady Jayne Disappears,” by an author named “Nathaniel Droll.” As the novel progresses, the story and this mysterious book become more and more entwined. Lots of mystery and a page turner, I totally recommend this book for a week-long rain storm. I received this book from Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Lady Jayne Disappears is a story of great loss (the death of Aurelie's father - author Nathaniel Droll and the mysterious death of her mother.), detectivity (when Aurelie goes looking into the death of both her Mother and her Father.) fictitious (Aurelie writes about the death of both Parents using as characters in the book she is finishing that her Father started - she is also using as charaters in the book her Fathers family she just met and has treated her like trash - a piece of trash.), and audaciousness (when Aurelie takes on her nasty, low down dirty relatives - she is a very bold women.)I received a copy of this book from the Publisher; all the opinions expressed in this review where all my own.
** “My dear Aurelie, if you fit into this world, this very broken, selfish place, it would be you who was the wrong size.” ** “Lady Jayne Disappears” by Joanna Davidson Politano is a delicious modern day Gothic tale set in 1861 England, featuring love, hate, mystery and survival. Aurelie Harcourt has grown up in debtor’s prison. With the recent passing of her father, she travels to his family’s home, Lynhurst Manor, and to a lifestyle and group of people she has no familiarity with. Trying to keep her past secret from her newly acquainted relatives, Aurelie also has another secret — she has taken up writing under the nom de plume, Nathaniel Droll, of her father and his “Lady Jayne” series, which has an eerie resemblance to life at Lynhurst. As Aurelie builds relationships at Lynhurst, particularly with seamstress Nelle and the handsome and enigmatic Silas Rotherham who is visiting the manor for the summer, she must reveal the secrets about her past that her father started to reveal to her through his story. Just who was Aurelie’s mother, and what truly happened to her? Would Aurelie be able to complete Lady Jayne’s fictionalized story? And as she revealed her life’s secrets, what other secrets would be revealed? Davidson Politano does a great job of developing a fun and exciting plot, building great characters — some you love, and some you love to hate. Besides being an incredible romance and mystery, “Lady Jayne Disappears” offers many amazing lessons — staying true to ourselves and who we are; sometimes all we have is the Lord to get us through life; so many more times good outweighs the bad; the importance and power of imagination; happiness is always a choice; God has a purpose for us; the ability to show strength and kindness; and the difference between seeking and receiving adoration and scorn, and the consequences of each. Often quoting Psalm 23, Aurelie’s story constantly reiterates the theme of rescue — rescuing one another as humans and, more importantly, the fact that God is our ultimate rescuer. I believe this is the first novel written by Davidson Politano. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to her next book, due in Summer 2018. Five stars out of five. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Yes, I often dig stories about stories and storytelling, and a fair share of beautiful and writerly nuggets in this intricate and mysterious tale are right down my alley. The moments when Aurelie intentionally takes what’s happening in her soul and pours it out on paper were among the most vivid for me. However, though I wouldn’t say the reading was ever altogether boring to me, it did wear on me. The story is dense, and while I found it interesting overall, I would have to wade through stretches that didn’t quite satisfy my attention. I was also pulled out of the historical period and location a number of times. With issues like “candy,” “typewriter,” and “adoring fan” references and moments when a character or two would seem like an American in a more modern period, the feel of Victorian England would be lost. I related to Aurelie’s storyteller’s heart and could admire her compassion. I didn’t fully come to like her, though, as she’s a rather pathetic heroine. Not pathetic in the sense of being pitiful, exactly, but she’s often prone to defeat and despair, guilt and tears, feeling she’s failed and ruined things, time and again. Still, the eventual unraveling of the mystery here is gratifying, and other ChristFic fans should find this novel worth a read. _____________ Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
I found this book so intriguing! Aurelie Harcourt has lived all her life in debtor’s prison with her father. On his death she wants some answers – who was her mother and whatever happened to her? Who knows the answers? As Aurelie goes to stay with her father’s wealthy family, she not only tries to fit in, but also to learn more about her parents – and what happened to them. Moreover, under her father’s pseudonym, can she finish the story her father began before his death in a way that captivates the readers? I just found this story fascinating – and kept wanting to know the answers already! So many mysteries and misunderstandings and unknowns – so different from today when it’s all available with a click on the computer! I so enjoyed reading this story – as well as learning more about life in 1861 England! I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review - all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I received a copy of LADY JAYNE DISAPPEARS by Joanna Davidson Politano from Revell in exchange for an honest review. This book was, well, it was incredible. I am so in love with it. The description sounded awesome and I couldn’t wait to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. I zipped through this story in no time! I have always been passionate about Gothic romances, so I might be a bit biased, haha. You will quickly be sucked into the writing. Don’t expect to read a chapter and then set the book aside. Give yourself a good few hours because you will need it. I love books about family secrets and creepy houses, and historical fiction just adds sugar on top. As you can see, I really loved this book. I can’t stop gushing about it! Check it out and prepare not to be disappointed.
"So many people are closed up, all tucked inside themselves, yet they bloom open in beautiful ways if you would only take interest in them." (19) "Books are essential nourishment to the mind." (18) Sigh. Yes, indeed. I am overtaken by what I've read in Joanna Davidson Politano's debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears. With such vigor in her love for stories, the author had beautifully woven that into this historical novel cloaked in mystery and the many secrets that makes humanity. Page after page, question marks seems to miraculously appear around my head, but there's also the drive to find out more. Silas, a different type of hero that amazed me by how much I was drawn to him like our heroine, Aurelie from the start. I didn't know what to expect and kudos to the author for a debut that nourished this mind, as well as induced an element of genuine surprise to how things will play out. ". . . if you fit into this world, this very broken, selfish place, it would be you who was the wrong size." (383) In all, Lady Jayne Disappears astonishes even the most seasoned readers and definitely in a good way. "It's a living, breathing story that I'm passing on to you." (33) A story that lives and breathes, that is what place Lady Jayne Disappears as one of my favorite debuts out there, and on the top list for this year's release. "Books are not always an escape. Sometimes they untangle real life miraculously well." (385) Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
Author Joanna Davidson Politano's debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, is a success. This story, set in 1861 England, is a writer's dream, with lavish prose, an intriguing backstory, and a rather gothic (but believable) setting. I loved reading this book. It is suspenseful yet charming all at the same time. Main character Aurelie is a delight, and seeing the other characters and society in general through her eyes makes the time frame and class distinctions so much more understandable. The faith of the main character is woven naturally throughout the story, and it never seems preachy or contrived. Although the romantic element of the story was predictable, it was not mundane. I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more from this new author. I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.
What a beautifully flowing and wonderfully engaging story! They mystery that weaves through every page sucks you in and won’t let you go. Aurelie has no clue what kind of life and family she has been thrust into. They have no clue who she really is – all except for two people who aren’t going to give those secrets away. And sweet, dear Silas, who has his own threads to untangle. This author knows how to keep you reading. The dialogue, action, mystery, intrigue, and ever engaging characters made me want to know more. It was a story in a story and deeply moving as you feel the emotions with them all. The twists and turns are fabulous and I didn’t see them coming! I loved this book and cannot wait for this author to write more!
A book that is written in the first person, and that being said, we walk in Aurelie Harcourt’s shoes throughout the story. The author even brings us right into the debtors prison and we walk from door to door, and see the injustice of this place. The author presents a young woman who is throw with the murder of her father into the midst of a family that wanted nothing to do with her. With money, why did they allow her and her Dad to live in the prison? Then we are privy to who is the famous author, and we see it get rather personal, to funny, and they all want to know who is Nathaniel Droll, and guesses sure go wild! I sure was surprised as the story unfolded and never saw a lot of what happened. A look at some of the dark side of old England, and one that a lot of aristocrats probably wouldn’t want seen, but we walk the halls and see first hand. I received this book through Revell Blogger Program, and was not required to give a positive review