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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

First Impressions

1. Are you a fan of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE or other works by Jane Austen? How well do you think Charlie Lovett captured Austen’s writing style and the themes of her novels?

2. Sophie Collingwood is a serious bibliophile, but the work of Jane Austen clearly holds a special place in her heart. Why do you think that is? What about Austen’s writing --- PRIDE AND PREJUDICE in particular --- draws such passionate readers to her stories?

3. When Jane Austen and Reverend Richard Mansfield actually meet after initial bad first impressions, they become fast friends. What made them change their minds about each other?

4. What parallels does Lovett draw between the relationships of Jane and Reverend Mansfield and Sophie and her beloved Uncle Bertram? What circumstances allow for these intense, but somewhat unusual friendships?

5. In FIRST IMPRESSIONS, Austen thinks of her relationship to Reverend Mansfield as “nothing to do with romance but everything to do with love (p. 197).” What does that mean? Do you have any relationships you would describe in the same way?

6. Why do you think Lovett chose to center the mystery of FIRST IMPRESSIONS on the authorship of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? What is especially scandalous about even the fictional possibility that the book was, in any way, not Austen’s own work?

7. As a former antiquarian bookseller and book collector, Lovett was able to weave in wonderful details of late 18th- and early 19th-century book publishing. Did anything about the antique book world surprise you? How did these details make the fictional mystery of who really wrote PRIDE AND PREJUDICE more believable?

8. SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read on if you haven’t finished the book!
After Winston reveals his plan to frame Jane Austen as a plagiarist—even when Sophie’s evidence proves otherwise—Winston says “Jane Austen plagiarizes the most famous novel in English literature—that’s a better story. And the better the story, the more people will pay (p. 295)” Is this true? Why or why not?

9. Were you satisfied with the ending of FIRST IMPRESSIONS? In what ways does Sophie’s love story echo that of Eliza Bennet?

First Impressions
by Charlie Lovett

  • Publication Date: September 29, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction, Literary Mystery, Mystery
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • ISBN-10: 0143127721
  • ISBN-13: 9780143127727