Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Elusive Jane Austen

Although Jane Austen is one of the world's best loved authors, little is known about her character. Most of the 3,000 letters she wrote to her family were destroyed after her death. We are left to wonder whether the real Jane was a sweet aunt, or a sharp tongued spinster. In spite of this handicap, Catherine Reef does a commendable job of showing us Jane's family and the era she lived in.

The Georgian Era was characterized by a rigid class structure and strict code of manners. Although she lived most of her life in country villages, Jane was an astute observer of human nature. She used this gift to give her novels unforgettable characters that people respond to today. I like the way Reef used this historical picture of Jane Austen to lead into a discussion of her novels and how they related to her life. In discussing the novels, Reed hints at the interesting question of why Jane remained a spinster. It's tempting to believe that she had as much experience of romantic attachments as her heroines which allowed her to understand them so well.

Although this short version of Jane's life is targeted at teen-readers, it can be enjoyed by adults as well. I found it fascinating and highly recommend it for all lovers of Jane Austen's novels.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.