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I have a great book to review today, Jane Austen at Home by the wonderful Lucy Worsley.
This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the places and spaces that mattered to her. It wasn’t all country houses and ballrooms, but a life that was often a painful struggle. Jane famously lived a ‘life without incident’, but with new research and insights, Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster, in fact, had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr Darcy.
Official blurb for Jane Austen at Home.
Now, as I am sure you know, I am a HUGE history fan, and an even bigger Lucy Worsley fan! I first discovered her whilst studying the Tudors during my GCSE’s and A-Levels. I have even managed to incorporate her into my degrees!
I am also a big Jane Austen fan (I mean, her books are just WOW!) however, I never really knew a lot about the author herself. It was only after watching Lucy Worsley’s documentary about Jane that I discovered a new love for Austen, as an author.
So, when I found out that Lucy was bringing out a book which focused on Austen herself rather than her books, I was ecstatic!
When you think of Jane Austen, you may think of afternoon tea, conversations in the drawing room, and developing love affairs on the lawn (I do believe you may recall a certain Colin Firth scene… 😉) however, who was the woman behind Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion? Well, she was a witty individual who was way ahead of her time.
Lucy Worsley herself is a huge fan of Austen, however I didn’t think she was biased in her book. She was very balanced when conveying her research and, although she had a deep sympathy for Jane, her biography remains unprejudiced.
Worsley’s biography is split up into four parts looking at the chronological stages of Jane’s life from her childhood home, to getting published, to her final resting place. Extensive research has been carried out in order to make this biography possible, and as factually correct it can be without speculative input.
I have to say, I have learned more about Jane Austen in this book than just reading her novels. I cherished each word of this biography; a gorgeous glimpse into the life of a literary heroine. I cherished how Lucy described Jane’s early years and how she fell in love with writing.
Things for Jane didn’t always run smoothly; only in her imagination did she finally reside in a home where she was happy. Complex familial issues and finance problems prevented Jane from ever reaching her goal of a home. She lived in many houses, but were any of them really home? (This part reminded me a lot of Sense and Sensibility). The drama, the tragedy, and the heartache. For someone as determined and as witty as Jane Austen, it must have taken an awful amount of strength and dedication for her novels to be published. And it paid off. I loved learning about her first ever novel even with the struggles of keeping up with the pressures of the publishing industry. It made it so much more real and I was fascinated with the level of attention Lucy paid to personal aspects of her story.
The story of Jane Austen is just as exciting and dramatic as her novels. With challenges and successes, heart break and heroism, I felt as if Jane could have been a character in her own stories. I never knew how much of her personal life influenced her stories and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her. I became obsessed and immediately re-read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. I felt compelled to read Austen all over again and believe me, I am glad I did. I felt as if I connected with her stories even more and on a deeper level.
If you love Jane Austen, read this book. If you love Lucy Worsley, read this book. IF YOU LOVE READING, READ THIS BOOK! Lucy is a national treasure and I was blown away by her biography of Jane Austen. It is a glorious accompaniment to any bookshelf, afternoon tea, or love affair on the lawn 😉
CLICK HERE for the author’s website
Follow Lucy on Twitter: @Lucy_Worsley
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and Maddy Price for my copy!
Happy reading! Lx