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Posted July 21, 2008
Author, and Jane Austen scholar Maggie Lane¿s lushly illustrated and thoroughly delightful volume on Jane Austen¿s life, times and works is one of my Austen favorites in my library. I gravitate to this lovely volume on my shelf when I need a quick Austen escape. Its large coffee table format allows for lush color photographs and period illustrations on each page, and author Maggie Lane was cleverly arranged the keynotes into five chapters, representing important aspects of Austen¿s world Who was Jane Austen? Daily Life in Jane Austen¿s England, Society and the Spirit of the Age, The Visual World, and The Immortal Jane Austen. This volume also includes a well written introduction, chronology, helpful index and author¿s acknowledgments. Here is an example of the first topic in chapter one¿ Chapter One: Who is Jane Austen? The Woman: We learn about Jane Austen¿s birth, family and home environment that nurtured her genius. Her physical appearance, character and personality are described and exemplified by Lane¿s thorough research, aptly including insightful quotes from her letters and family reflections. ¿Her unusually quick sense of the ridiculous inclined her to play with the trifling commonplaces of everyday life, whether as regarded people or things but she never played with its serious duties or responsibilities - when she was grave, she was very grave.¿ Anna Austen Lefroy Inevitably, comparisons of Austen¿s personality lead to the paring of her attitudes and personality with the characteristics of her own heroines. Even though each of her heroines is highly individual, Lane hints at similarities in the characters of Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot, and though I agree for the most part, I was amused to see how one can find what they need to suit, by reason and ingenuity. The chapters are broken down further by topics and continue in chapter one as follows The Writer, Beliefs and Values, The Letters, The Portraits, Family Background, Home at Steventon, The six brothers, Some female relations, Love and friendship, Family visits, Bath and the West Country, and Return to Hampshire. Even though Maggie Lane is qualified to write a scholarly treatise, she knows her audience, and her light style is approachable and engaging. She includes enough biographical and historical detail to introduce us to the subject, and not weigh it down with heavy language and minutia. The photographs and illustration have been thoughtfully selected, significant to the topic, and important historically. Her scholarship is exemplary. This is my favorite Austen book to give as a gift as an introduction to Jane Austen, and as eye candy to the indoctrinated. It has never failed to please, and I hope that we shall see many additional editions for future readers. Posted by Laurel Ann, AustenproseWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.