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Claire Prescott is helping out her sister again, something she's been doing ever since her parents died. Claire has recently lost her job as an officer manager for a pediatrician's office, and she is in a very fragile state, unsure of where she is heading in a career and questioning the non-relationship she has with her boyfriend, Neil, a sports fanatic whose life revolves more about sports than Claire. So imagine Claire's consternation when she agrees to give her sister's scholarly paper about Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen at Oxford University in England.
Imagine her consternation when she meets a swarthy, Mr. Darcy-type man, James, and she finds herself lying about her life, attempting to reinvent herself in the prospect of appearing more interesting. Lies and secrets abound not only in this electric meeting but also when she meets an elderly woman, Harriet, with rapidly approaching dementia but who seems to present an earlier version of Pride and Prejudice that doesn't quite match up with the version the world knows.
As she reads this earlier much more real account in snippets over the course of a week, several women and an Austen scholarly seem to want to spend a lot of time with Claire. A trashed room and several undisguised threats shake Claire to the core? To whom should she speak about the secret manuscript? Should she do anything with it? Or does she just read her paper, continue to engage in Austen discussions and leave for America, having experienced an adventure that has set her mind and heart afire with questions and doubts, as well as forced her to face some facts about her life she'd much rather ignore but now can't?
Add to the mixture the arrival of Neil and a series of confrontations that rock both their worlds!
Beth Pattillo mixes mystery, passion and intelligence with a professional touch few ever manage to master! This reviewer recommends this novel as one of the best books read this year! Wonderful, Ms. Pattillo! Keep writing! We want more!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on December 15, 2009