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Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden

Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden

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Janet Todd
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Eccentric Fran wants a second chance. Thanks to her intimacy with Jane Austen, and the poet Shelley, she finds one.

Jane Austen is such a presence in Fran's life that she seems to share her cottage and garden, becoming an imaginary friend.

Fran’s conversations with Jane Austen guide and chide her – but Fran is ready for change after years of teaching, reading and gardening. An encounter with a long-standing English friend, and an American writer, leads to new possibilities. Adrift, the three women bond through a love of books and a quest for the idealist poet Shelley at two pivotal moments of his life: in Wales and Venice. His otherworldly longing and yearning for utopian communities lead the women to interrogate their own past as well as motherhood, feminism, the resurgence of childhood memory in old age, the tensions and attractions between generations. Despite the appeal of solitude, the women open themselves social to ways of living  - outside partnership and family.  Jane Austen, as always, has plenty of comments to offer.

The novel is a (light) meditation on age, mortality, friendship, hope, and the excitement of change.