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.