Washington Post: Jane Austen makes a cameo in a charming new novel about friendship and the literary life

Review of ‘Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden’ the Washington Post

September 10, 2021 by Carole Burns

As summer wanes, here’s one more title for your reading list, especially if you prefer your novels literary but light: “Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden.” In this delightful — and very British — novel, Virginia Woolf, William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Bishop, Samuel Johnson and Lord Byron all make cameos, along with, of course, Jane Austen.

The book, set in contemporary England, focuses on three older women facing retirement and the regrets that age often brings. The central character, Fran, already at the fringe of university life, lives in a cottage in the countryside, where the main companion in her garden is the author of “Pride and Prejudice,” who makes a ghostly appearance.

Carole Burns, head of creative writing at the University of Southampton in England, is author of “The Missing Woman and Other Stories,” which won the Ploughshares’ John C. Zacharis First Book Award.