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Looking for a 'sweet, charming' novel? Try Charlie Lovett's 'First Impressions'

Lovett's novel follows both 'Pride and Prejudice' writer Jane Austen and contemporary character Sophie, who works in a bookstore.

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    'First Impressions' is by Charlie Lovett.
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Are you a Jane Austen fan or looking for a charming story to read in between Thanksgiving celebrations? You might want to check out Charlie Lovett’s new novel “First Impressions.”

Lovett, who is also the author of the 2013 novel “The Bookman’s Tale,” released “Impressions” last month. The book has dual plotlines, with one centering on the “Pride and Prejudice” author herself and one focusing on contemporary character Sophie Collingwood. Sophie, an Austen fan, goes to work at an antique bookshop and is mystified when two customers come in asking for the same old book, “Little Book of Allegories.” She soon discovers that the origin of the story about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy may be more complicated than she thought, even as she struggles to choose between two men in her own life. Meanwhile, the other plot line follows Jane Austen’s relationship with the “Allegories” author, Richard Mansfield. 

IndieBound selected “Impressions” for its November Indie Next list, with Bill Carl of Cincinnati’s The Booksellers on Fountain Square calling the novel “frothy and fun.”

“The tale is simple and sweet,” he wrote. “Delightful, especially for Austen fans – and really, who isn’t?”

Industry newsletter Shelf Awareness writer Tom Lavoie also enjoyed the book. 

“Lovett's tale is a lovely and entertaining one that will involve any reader who relishes the charm (and the charming scent) of old books,” he wrote. “[It’s] a light and good-hearted piece of historical and present-day fiction that lovers of Austen and antiquarian books will adore.”

Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal also received the book positively, with PW calling it “well-designed [and] ingenious…. Ardent fans of Jane Austen and lovers of gripping stories will enjoy” and LJ writer Lynnanne Pearson of Illinois’s Skokie Public Library writing, “While the ending is never in doubt and the formula is the same as Lovett's previous literary mystery, this is a delightful read that Janeites will love.”

However, Kirkus Reviews echoed Pearson’s observation that the formula is the same as Lovett’s “Bookman” and was less enamored of the novel.

“Lovett's love of books and libraries once again energizes his storytelling, but this new plot is more conventional than his first, with Sophie's chapters verging on chick lit and Jane's testing the patience of non-Austen-ophiles,” KR wrote. “The freshness that marked Lovett's debut is less evident in this second novel, a predictable tale of romantic suspense that becomes progressively weaker in its closing chapters.”

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