I really enjoyed listening to this book on audio, which was beautifully read by Ruth Redman. I loved the way the author, Lucy Worsley, entwined Jane's real life with the characters in her novels. It really displayed how art imitates life. The book also used quotes from an array of Jane Austen's contemporaries, which added a nice touch to the reading (listening) experience.
Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I love the historical accept of her books, knowing she lived it. Austen's novels are so much more than stories about women looking for husbands, but rather about life in the Georgian era, the state of the church, the classes that divided so many, and the relationships between loved ones and foes alike. It's also wonderful that her writing style is so beautiful, once you get used to it!
|Jane Austen drawn by her sister Cassandra|
I enjoyed reading about Jane's family in this book, as well as her interactions with them. Some happy, as her relationship with her sister Cassandra was, and some discouraging, as men in those days looked down on women, and women had no rights. Even through writing, many women had to use male names in order to publish. Jane's books may never have been published without her brother stepping in and helping her. Makes you think and appreciate how far women have come and the freedoms we have now. I'm thankful for that.
|Steventon Rectory: Where Jane Austen was raised.|
One thing you can't ignore in biographies is the death of the subject. Jane's death is quite a mystery and there have been many theories of what she died from. It was interesting to read about these and how some of these illnesses could have been avoided if she had lived 200 years later. One thing I found extremely interesting is that Jane was born at the end of her mother's 10th month of pregnancy, which they believe may have caused some complications for Jane in her later life.
This book lightly addressed Jane's faith which I wish we knew more about. A few years ago I read Jane's 'book of prayers' and I'm led to believe she was a Christian who loved and trusted the Lord. You can read about that book here... The Prayers of Jane Austen
Jane's last words were: "God grant me patience. Pray for me, oh pray for me."
I discovered some new things about Jane through this biography and look forward to reading other books about her, particularly a book mentioned in this one, called Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin.
The only thing that didn't sit well with me, were a few speculations the author made about feelings or events that I didn't think needed to be added. It felt like it took away from the authenticity of the book as a whole. The facts of the book were interesting enough without these added speculative thoughts of the author.
Other than that small pet peeve, this book was very good and I recommend it to anyone who loves Jane Austen!
Buy it HERE on Amazon