• Berkley/ NAL Penguin Group
  • ISBN: 978-0425271353



including Austenprose & Austenesque Reviews


The exclusive, untold story of Jane Austen's first love ...
a romantic adventure that may have inspired
the timeless classic novel Emma

When teenaged Jane Austen falls in love with a handsome, rebellious teen
over one mad, matchmaking summer, she gains a lifetime's worth of experience
that will make her into the literary titan she is destined to become.

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to the nearby estate of Bifrons--a fascinating, highly accomplished young man who is truly worthy of Jane's affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race--and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention.

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?


"This masterwork feels like a real memoir....Readers will race to the conclusion. Highly recommended." Historical Novel Society

"Syrie James is an incomparable storyteller... a lively, romantic 'what if' that will make you laugh, as well as tug at your heart." -Austenprose

"Syrie James has woven a quite delightful romance-not only a touching record of a young girl's first experience of love, but also a funny, eventful and entertaining comedy of Regency manners. James's ear for dialogue is unfaltering, and her sympathy for her heroine whole-hearted. It all adds up to an unashamedly romantic package, presented with affection and respect." Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine

"[Ms. James] has the unique ability to weave historical facts and fiction seamlessly together to create a beautiful, riveting and delightful tale of romance and first love." -Novels Alive

"Truly riveting. A realistic tale that could have been written by the revered author herself. James’s latest will charm Austen fans (and fans of James, too) as well as Austen unfamiliars... Romance fans will root for Jane all the way." Library Journal, Editor's Pick

"Wonderful, charming and lively story...This enchanting tale will have readers recalling their first love. Simply a lovely novel!" Romantic Times Book Reviews

"Romantic, genuine, and charming." —The Romance Dish

"A richly imagined novel about youthful love."Seattle Times

"A real feast for any Austen fan. Edward Taylor is temptingly irresistible. This book can’t be missing on your Austenesque shelf and would be a very special gift to young readers you want to initiate into Jane Austen’s world." —My Jane Austen Book Club

Read More Reviews...

JANE AUSTEN'S FIRST LOVE was inspired by Jane Austen's references in many of her letters to Edward Taylor, heir to a grand manor house in Kent, a young man upon whom she admittedly "fondly doted" in her youth.

Scholars have long referred to Edward Taylor as Jane Austen's "shadowy first love" because until now, very little was known about him. My research uncovered an invaluable new resource which revealed Edward to be a remarkable, highly accomplished young man with a most unusual upbringing. I immediately understood why Jane Austen fell madly in love with him.

I am excited to share the story of Jane's life-changing summer with Edward Taylor, and hope you gain as much pleasure from the reading as I did from the writing.