Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane


Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are our own

Official Summary: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the world's most popular novelists, a sharp and witty writer whose stories enchant on their own and in numerous film and TV adaptations. Jane Austen's World takes a look at the woman behind the literature, revealing her private life and examining the world she inhabited—a time when England was developing into a colonial power, the Napoleonic Wars raged, and the Regency took hold. No other book truly captures Austen's spirit as well.
Review: To be honest, I've only read one book by Jane Austen and that was Persuasion. However, I did enjoy it and my sister owns all her novels, so I'd be willing to check out more. When I was offered to review this book, though, I was eager to check it out and possibly learn more about Austen and the world she inhabited when writing her novels.

This book doesn't focus on Austen and her life alone. Rather, there are sections where Austen will be mentioned in the beginning or even given an anecdote in the middle, but the rest simply describes the subject in her time period. This includes things like Travel, where they talk about the perils of it. Austen, however, did travel...and always with her portable writing desk! How writer-esque is that?

I did learn a bit about Austen in this novel, like the fact that when she was first publishing her novels, she didn't use her name. She published to be paid (like a job) instead of fame. Her identity was eventually revealed, though.

The Introduction was written by Brian Southam, Vice-President and former Chairman of The Jane Austen Society, and the following quote is one I wanted to share-
 
"Some will want to work through the book systematically from the earliest years of Jane Austen's life to the present day and 'Jane Austen and Ourselves.' Other readers will want to look up a specific topic or area. However we use this book, its greatest service will be to turn us to the novels themselves with greater insight, understanding and affection."

I liked this quote because it acknowledges different readers, and I fall into the second category. I went in order through the book, yet I didn't read everything. I skimmed and focused on the parts that were most interesting to me at the time. I love that this is a book you can enjoy on various levels. If you're a hard-core Austen fan and know a lot about the time period, this might be full of old news for you...but for someone like me, or someone who loves the books but wants to know more, I think this could be a useful resource.

The book has glossy pages and is full of photos (many in color) and it's a good price for a 'gift book': Amazon is selling it for $18.47 at the moment.

9 comments:

Candace said...

My sister in law is a huge Austen fan and I think I should get this for her birthday at the end of the month, I think she'd love it! I haven't read much of her stuff but I do find her life fascinating and wouldn't mind learning more. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

Erika said...

I love all things Jane Austen so I basically need this in my life. Perfect! :)

GABY said...

Sounds interesting. I like some of her books so I'll consider reading it :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I was a big Austen fan in college. I read her books on my own or for classes. I'd love to go back to reading her books and books about her.

Bookworm1858 said...

I am a huge Austen fan so I may already know a lot of this material but that never stops me from wanting to accumulate more related to her-thanks for sharing!

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

Oooh need to read!

Liviania said...

Sounds kind of cool. Studying Jane Austen's world really helps reading her books, given how many social issues she addresses.

Andrea @The Bookish Babes said...

I haven't read all of Austen's books (do movies count?lol) but I do consider myself a fan. I think I would enjoy this. Great review!

Jenni @ Alluring Reads said...

I have't read any of Austen's books. I'm not a fan of historical fiction so I don't think they would be for me but I'm happy to see that it opened your eyes to her world and that you liked it!