Recently I received the book The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne, the book I posted a trailer from earlier. If you read through this blog you will notice a lot of Austen-related subjects. It’s true, I’m a big Austen fan. I read all the books, multiple times. And then the annotated copies. So I was glad to read this book. Not just because it’s an Austen biography, but because this biography promises to show us an Austen that is “far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture […] allows”.
I am always surprised at people trying to put down Jane Austen as a modest, gentle, kinda boring woman. The short biographies on the dustcovers of the book never seem to coincide with the person you feel the author is. If you read an Austen novel carefully, really listening well, you can sort of feel that Jane Austen was a quick-witted woman, who saw many strange things in society, social unright and unbalanced situations, and saw the books as her way to remark upon that. Also, clearly she was in a sense mischievous, and addressed issues on her mind in a playful manner. Even though she was clearly also a product of the society in which she lived, she was someone who was able to look further. Reading a biography that promises to show us more of Austen, is very good news!
In the book The Real Jane Austen each chapter starts of with examining an object, after which the focus shifts to examining a part of the life of Austen. The book is a very dynamic read because of this. There is a chronological order but it’s not the leading motive, rather several subjects are examined up close, one by one. This makes you really able to envision and imagine Austen’s life.
Objects that are mentioned and researched in the book are, among others: a royalty check, researching Austen’s desire for her books to be acknowledged despite being anonymous at first; a laptop, telling us of Austen books being printed and being received favourably; the topaz crosses, recounting the stories of Austen’s brothers in the Navy. Because of this in-depth look and the thorough research, this book will definitely give the reader a well-rounded and complete idea of Jane Austen and her world.
I loved the look of this book, it being rather big and heavy with a wonderful pale greyish-blue cover, and inside filled with amazing colour plates and a pleasant font. Definitely recommend for present-giving to Austen fans.