By Julie Failla Earhart
Last time we chatted about Joanna Campbell Slan’s new series, “The Jane Eyre Chronicles,” the first book had just been released. Now the second book, Death of a Dowager, has hit the bookstores and Internet.
It’s one year later, 1821. Jane, Edward, and their son Ned have journeyed to London for two reasons. First is for Edward. His doctor advised him to see an ocular specialist as Edward’s vision is growing steadily worse. By happy coincidence, the doctor is looking for a country position. Edward plans to interview him for an assistant on his estate. Second, is that Ferndean, their country home, is undergoing massive repairs. This also gives Jane a chance to visit with her close friend, Lucy Brayton and Lucy’s brother, Bruce.
Lucy’s husband is on assignment with the Army in India, and she’s awaiting the arrival of her husband’s illegitimate child to raise as her own. She is grateful for the distraction of having the Rochesters in her home.
On a trip to the Italian Opera House, Jane finds herself introduced to King George and his mistress, Lady Conygham and encounters her old nemesis, Lady Ingram (her daughter, Blanche, had her sights set on wedding Edward). Still upset after all these years, the Dowager snubs both Jane and Lucy. Hoping to alleviate the snub, Lucy talks Jane into visiting them the next day. During tea, the Dowager drops dead. It’s soon apparent that foul play is involved.
In a tale full of twists and turns, Slan takes readers on another extraordinary adventure. The Dowager’s death is well placed, giving readers a chance to get to know her as opposed to learning about the elderly woman via third parties.
Slan also has all the character’s voices and mannerism down, giving readers a chance to re-visit old friends that we came to love in the Charlotte Bronte novel. Slan does such an amazing job re-creating Bronte’s voice, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Slan was channeling the famous author.
It’s always a pleasure to read anything by Slan, and Death of a Dowager is no exception.