|This cover is gorgeous...sadly I was reading it on the Kindle, not an actual paperback, so it was far less aesthetically pleasing. Oh well.|
My mum discovered a Kindle copy of this delightful novel about Jane Austen's life. It's written in the present tense, from Jane's point of view, which makes the story flow nicely and adds a bit of suspense and emotion rather than just a biography. (I've read a biography of Jane by David Cecil. Read it. It's amazing.)
Something wonderful about this book was that it was written by a Christian author, Nancy Moser, and she did justice to Jane's faith, which has always inspired me. I've always loved Jane Austen, but this book has made her much more real. I see so much of myself in her. It's scary.
Anyway, so the book begins when Jane is quite young, in the middle of her fleeting romance with Tom Lefroy. She has also just started writing Pride and Prejudice, or First Impressions, as it was then called.
There are detailed descriptions of the characters of Cassandra Austen, Jane's older sister, Mr. and Mrs. Austen and many of their numerous relations. There were a few deviations from fact, some things added and some left out, but it doesn't make the book less enjoyable. Jane's thoughts are constantly before the reader, and you can see the changes in herself as she goes through times of doubt and difficulty. She finds it hard to fit in a society all about rank and money, and draws many of her characters from real life. When Cassandra's fiance dies and Tom Lefroy goes off to Ireland, Jane contrasts her own grief to Cassandra's.
Two sisters, very different... and Sense and Sensibility is born! I don't know if Jane Austen did in actual fact use herself and Cassandra as a model for Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, but it's nice to think she did.
I found that Mrs. Austen's character was pretty similar to Mrs. Dashwood's; however, she went through a supposed illness, similar to Mrs. Bennet. Most of Jane's brothers, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews' stories are also told.
Another transition was the move to Bath, which Jane found very constricting to her talent. Her mother and aunt try to get her married off, but she decides she will not marry. I loved that the author introduced the mysterious seaside gentleman that historians have puzzled over who fell in love with Jane, but died shortly after meeting her. The book gets quite sad, especially when Jane's father dies, but she finds strength in the Lord and overcomes her grief. The title of the book comes from her decision to be "just Jane"--she will not marry for money or rank, but will do what she loves to do--write, and not try to be someone other than herself. She refuses a few proposals during the course of the book, for the simple reason that she did not love the men who proposed to her. For these opinions she received ridicule from her more worldly relations, but she stuck to what she believed to be right. Finally settled at Chawton Cottage, Jane finally becomes content and spends the rest of her life writing and seeing some of her novels published with pride. I really, really loved this book. I couldn't put it down. There were so many delightful quotes from her books and letters in the narrative. Jane Austen's life was not boring!! Do read it, it will inspire you as it has me. And for all you TSP fans out there, I'm reading The Scarlet Pimpernel now, so brace yourselves for a review in the near future!
|There's a scene in the book where Cassandra takes a portrait of Jane.. but apparently it wasn't a very good likeness.|