Archived Voice Articles

Alumni Book Review

By Luanne Goslinga

With this issue of the Voice we begin a new feature—book reviews. We’re interested in knowing what’s on your bookshelves now that your college books are packed away. What are your latest finds in the literary world? And what would you recommend your fellow alums pick up the next time they are in the library or bookstore? Share your latest great read. Submit your book review to:

Luanne Goslinga

I have always been a Jane Austen fan. You may even deem me a fanatic—I actually named one of my daughters Austen, in honor of the author. Therefore, I was very excited to learn that Stephanie Barron had penned eight books in a Jane Austen mystery series.

In 1995 a series of manuscripts were unearthed in a coal cellar during the restoration of the Westmoreland Manor in Maryland. The discovery turned out to be authentic journal entries and letters Jane Austen wrote for her sister and not meant for publication. Interestingly, the notebooks also contained actual mysteries that Austen had encountered and solved during her own lifetime.

Stephanie Barron was asked by the Westmoreland family to edit the notebooks for publication. She uses real people, places, and events from Jane Austen’s life to create a series of suspense novels set during the height of the Napoleonic Empire with Miss Austen as sleuth.

In the first book, Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, the Earl of Scargrave dies mysteriously and all suspect his new young bride (and Jane’s real-life friend) Isobel to be the culprit. Isobel entreats Jane’s help to investigate the murder and save her from certain ruin.

If you are an Austen fan, the true delight of these books is how faithfully Barron reproduces Austen’s style. You feel rather like you are reading Pride and Prejudice (with the strange addition of murdered bodies underfoot). The mysteries themselves are complicated enough to befuddle most suspense fans.

What can I say: a little Victorian charm, a little political intrigue, a little Austen wit...and a who-done-it. What’s not to like?

After eleven years as an English teacher at Unity Christian High School in Orange City, Luanne (Veenstra) Goslinga (’93) decided to open a new chapter in her life as a stay-at-home mom to Micah, 5; Austen, 2; and Annika, 6 months. Luanne is married to Dave (’90). Whenever her children allow her a few moments of quiet she enjoys the opportunity to read.