In her seventh captivating adventure, Jane Austen finds her crime-solving mettle put to the test in a confounding case of intrigue, murder, and high treason. Among the haunted ruins of an ancient abbey, Jane is drawn into a shadow world of dangerous secrets and traitorous hearts where not only her life is at stake--but the fate of England.Jane and the Ghosts of NetleyAs Jane Austen stands before the abandoned ruins of Netley Abbey, she imagines that ghosts really do haunt the centuries-old monastery. But the green-cloaked figure who startles her is all too human and he bears an unexpected missive from Lord Harold Trowbridge, one of the British government's most trusted advisers--and a man who holds a high place in Jane's life.Trowbridge tells Jane about a suspected traitor in their midst--and the disastrous consequences if she succeeds. But is Sophia Challoner, a beautiful widow with rumored ties to Emperor Bonaparte, really an agent of the enemy
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Jane and the Ghosts of Netley by Stephanie Barron
Bare Ruin'd Choirs
Tuesday, 25 October 1808
Castle Square, Southampton
There are few prospects so replete with romantic possibility--so entirely suited to a soul trembling in morbid awe--as the ruins of an English abbey. Picture, if you will, the tumbled stones where once a tonsured friar muttered matins; the echoing coruscation of the cloister, now opened to the sky; the soaring architraves of Gothick stone that oppress one's soul as with the weight of tombs. Vanished incense curling at the nostril--the haunting memory of chanted prayer, sonorous and unintelligible to an ear untrained in Latin--the ghostly tolling of a bell whose clapper is muted now forever! Oh, to walk in such a place under the chill of moonlight, of a summer evening, when the air off the Solent might stir the dead to speak! In such an hour I could imagine myself a heroine straight from Mrs. Radcliffe's pen: the white train of my gown sweeping over the ancient stones, my shadow but a wraith before me, and all the world suspended in silence between the storied past and the prosaic present.
Engaging as such visions must be, I have never ventured to Netley Abbey--for it is of Netley I would speak, it being the closest object to a romantic ruin we possess in Southampton--in anything but the broadest day. I am far too sensible a lady to linger in such a deserted place, with the darkling wood at my back and the sea to the fore, when the comfort of a home fire beckons. Thus we find the abyss that falls between the fancies of horrid novels, and the habits of those who read them.
"Yes, George " I glanced towards the bow, where my two nephews, George and Edward, surveyed the massive face of Netley Castle as it rose on the port side of the small skiff.
"Why do they call that place a castle, Aunt It looks nothing like."