Becoming Jane Austen

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Overview

Jon Spence's biography of Jane Austen paints an intimate portrait of the much-loved novelist. Spence's meticulous research has uncovered evidence that Austen and the charming young Irishman Tom Lefroy fell in love at the age of twenty and that the relationship inspired "Pride and Prejudice," one of the most celebrated works of fiction. "Becoming Jane Austen" gives the fullest account we have of the romance, which was more serious and more enduring than previously believed. Seeing this love story in the context of...
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Overview

Jon Spence's biography of Jane Austen paints an intimate portrait of the much-loved novelist. Spence's meticulous research has uncovered evidence that Austen and the charming young Irishman Tom Lefroy fell in love at the age of twenty and that the relationship inspired "Pride and Prejudice," one of the most celebrated works of fiction. "Becoming Jane Austen" gives the fullest account we have of the romance, which was more serious and more enduring than previously believed. Seeing this love story in the context of Jane Austen's whole life enables us to appreciate the profound effect the relationship had on her art and on subsequent choices that she made in her life. Full of insight and with an attentive eye for detail, Spence explores Jane Austen's emotional attachments and the personal influences that shaped her as a novelist. The narrative provides a point of entry into Jane Austen's world as she herself perceived and experienced it. It is a world familiar to us from her novels, but in "Becoming Jane Austen," Austen herself is the heroine.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Were she alive today, Jane Austen would be astonished to see that she is now more popular than she was during and after the years she wrote her great novels. Recently, film and television adaptations of Emma, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility have sparked an Austen revival, encouraging a new generation of readers to lose themselves in her bitingly humorous and satirical novels of manners and morals, marriage and money, class, and religion. In his revealing biography, Spence (English, Doshisha Univ., Kyoto, Japan) examines Austen's development as a novelist. Drawing on journals and letters, he considers the impact that her personal experiences had on her work and the influence of those who knew her well, especially her flirtatious cousin and a young Irish lawyer whom she hoped to marry. Spence argues that Austen's juvenilia (especially the stories "Love and Friendship" and "Lesley Castle") reflect her cautionary assessments regarding the dangers of a young man's intimate involvement with an older, married woman, as well as her biting satire on the wiles of a flirtatious woman. Although this psychological biography has interesting moments, Spence commits the cardinal sin among Austenphiles of pointing to connections between the fictional characters and the real-life people-a connection that Austen herself virulently denied. Still, libraries with large Austen collections will want to own this work because of its unique focus. Ross's companion provides a helpful map to the politics, architecture, publishing, fashion, and culinary arts of Austen's novels. In brief and humorous essays, Ross (The Monarchy in Britain) tries to make Austen's world more familiar to modern readers by answering such questions as "What was hartshorn?" and "How did Lizzy Bennet `let down' her gown to hide her muddy petticoats?" Ross examines Austen's "common daily routine" at Steventon, the Hampshire village where she spent much of her life, observing that Jane would have had the benefit of a "wholesome, home-produced diet, with fresh milk from her mother's Alderney cows, pork products from the family pigs, and plentiful local fruit and vegetables." These staples provide some helpful indications of the ingredients of the "white soup" that Mr. Bingley promises to his guests in Pride and Prejudice. In the tradition of John Sutherland's Can Jane Eyre Be Happy?: More Puzzles in Classic Fiction, Ross's little handbook offers an extremely useful guide to the world Austen inhabited and that she imported into her novels. For all libraries.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567318944
  • Publisher: MJF Books
  • Publication date: 8/6/2007
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Spence is an American and was educated at King's College, London University. He has lived abroad for many years and now divides his time between London and Sydney. He is the editor of A Century of Wills from Jane Austen's Family and Jane Austen's Brother Abroad: The Grand Tour Journals of Edward Austen. He acted as Historical Consultant on the film Becoming Jane.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations Acknowledgements
1 Legacies
2 Home
3 Scenes
4 The Good Apprentice
5 History
6 Love and Art
7 Place
8 Ways of Escape
9 Money
10 Work
11 The World
12 The Body Appendix Notes Bibliography Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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(5)

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    It was dry!

    If you love Jane Austen and want to read everything about her, then you might like this book. I personally forced myself to read it only because I purchased it. I found it hard to follow because the author goes from talking about her to talking about one of her novels in the same paragraph. Then he gets caught up in other people in her family and what they think. I really regret purchasing it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is a wonderful book that gives you insight into the world of Jane Austen.It includes segments of her personal letters and descriptions of what they are about and their background. Also it points out where she drew ideas from for her novels and gives great information on her early works that aren't as well known. I definately recommend this book for any lover of Jane Austen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2008

    A reviewer

    I loved the movie becoming jane and I did not think the book would be as good, but I proved my self wrong the book was outstanding, just like the movie.I never liked to read but I love jane austen books and this will definetly be added to my collection!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2009

    The Life of Jane Austin

    The material in this book was fascinating and so informative. It was hard to put down. If you are a fan of Jane Austin you will want to read about her life.

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    Posted November 11, 2009

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