Secrets in the Snow by Michaela MacColl

Secrets in the Snow: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl. October 4, 2016. Chronicle Books, 288 p. ISBN: 9781452133584.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 650.

What if you had to choose between your family and true love?

Jane Austen’s family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels and finds every suitor lacking in one way or another. That is, until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives on the scene.

Much like the famous character Mr. Darcy, from one of the real-life Jane Austen’s famous novels, Mr. Lefroy initially seems arrogant and distasteful. But the more Jane gets to know him, the more she discovers his kind nature. Can it be that he’s the suitor for her? Before Jane can find out, her cousin is accused of aiding the French, England’s enemy, and Jane finds herself busy proving her family’s innocence, solving a murder, and facing a decision that might mean the sacrifice of her one true love.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Mild sexual themes; Murder



Booklist (November 15, 2016 (Online))
Grades 7-10. MacColl (The Revelation of Louisa May, 2015) delivers yet another mystery featuring historical women wordsmiths. This time, Jane Austen’s family gets embroiled in an international espionage conspiracy. Jane’s cousin Eliza—the widow of a French count—is suspected of being a French spy. Jane’s older brother, working for the War Office, invites the family to his estate to interrogate Eliza. Rushing to her cousin’s defense, Jane instead meets Eliza at her own estate to keep her away from prying government eyes. There she meets haughty yet intriguing Tom Lefroy, who plays Watson to her Sherlock Holmes as they investigate the murder of a mysterious man who has been stalking Eliza. Fans of Austen may be torn on this one—despite the author’s historical note, the book fails to capture Austen’s style or her signature commentary on cultural and social conventions—but it is a solid mystery with occasional references to her life. As an homage to Jane Austen, this falls flat, but as mystery and historical fiction, it makes for dynamic and engrossing reading.

School Library Journal (October 1, 2016)
Gr 7-10-Nineteen-year-old Jane Austen-yes, that Jane Austen-finds herself entwined in some serious intrigue when the War Office suggests that her cousin, whose French aristocrat husband lost his head to the guillotine, might be engaged in traitorous activity against England. Jane is determined to get to the bottom of the situation, even if it means veering into unladylike territory. Adding to the drama, a gentleman studying the law has entered Jane’s social circle-and all of her family members are eager to encourage a marriage match regardless of his condescending first impression. MacColl’s fidelity to Austen’s biography and family, with a bit of creative license woven in, results in a charming historical mystery. Her playfulness with Austen’s voice is a delight, and she peppers the story with hints at characters and plot points from the author’s oeuvre-nothing that distracts from the narrative, but tidbits that serve as inside jokes to readers who have already dived into her works. These elements more than make up for a somewhat rushed conclusion. Readers whose interest in Austen is piqued will enjoy the biographical back matter. VERDICT A solid addition for fans of cozy mysteries and literary reimaginings.-Amy Koester, Skokie Public Library, IL

About the Author

Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University. She earned degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. What happened that helped them to be great? Michaela has two daughters so she’s hoping to identify those moments firsthand. Her books include Prisoners in the Palace (2010) about a teenaged Victoria, on the verge of becoming Queen and Promise the Night (2011) about Beryl Markham’s childhood in Africa. Her literary mysteries include Nobody’s Secret (featuring Emily Dickinson) and Always Emily (with the Bronte sisters). She and her family live in Connecticut.

Her website is

Teacher Resources

Collection of Jane Austen Resources

Around the Web

Secrets in the Snow on Amazon

Secrets in the Snow on JLG

Secrets in the Snow on Goodreads



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