Jane Austen and Shelley In the Garden Review September / October 2021 Booklist Magazine
Fran and Annie have been friends for decades, from their time teaching in higher education and experiencing motherhood to Annie’s current visit to Fran’s remote retirement cottage in South Norfolk, England. While contemplating the next phase of their friendship, Fran consults with Jane Austen, a ghostly presence in her life. A group of earthly friends is loosely formed, and they embark on a journey tracing the footsteps of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, although the growth of their friendships may be the most rewarding discovery they make. Literary critic, biographer, and novelist Todd provides a variety of reading experiences, ranging from reflections on gender inequities of the past and present to multiple viewpoints on the prospect of aging, investigating the consequences of Shelley’s dramatic life choices, considering the role of women in Austen’s world, and navigating the difficulties involved in following your own path while trying to fulfill the expectations of friends, family, and society. Todd’s charming, quirky, thoughtful, challenging, and encouraging tale includes engaging photos and illustrations that enhance the story, adding up to an unusual and intriguing literary romp.
— Stacey Hayman