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Jane Austen: A Life (Penguin Celebrations) [Paperback]

Claire Tomalin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Sep 2007 Penguin Celebrations
From her study of the Austen family papers, Claire Tomalin paints a rich, tragi-comic picture of the Austen clan and their neighbours, reaching the conclusion that the facts of Jane Austen's life were even more extravagant and romantic than her fiction.


Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141035137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141035130
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Claire Tomalin was literary editor of the NEW STATESMAN and SUNDAY TIMES. Her two previous books (both in Penguin) were the highly acclaimed and award-winning THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (about Dickens' mistress) and MRS JORDAN'S PROFESSION. She is married to Michael Frayn and lives in Camden Town, north London.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography 13 Aug 2008
By Nicholas J. R. Dougan TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Having started some years ago with Samuel Pepys, I like Claire Tomalin's biographies, which strike a good balance between the accessible and the academic.

She gives an excellent depiction of Jane Austen and the family and social setting that shaped her. I came late to Austen - I remember a near rebellion at school when her books were chosen in preference to Ernest Hemmingway's for Sixth Year Studies English, and I only got around to reading Pride and Prejudice after seeing the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth version. P&P certainly gets my vote as the best English novel; Tomalin, however, prefers Mansfield Park which I have to admit I thought was a tale of unsubtle moralising, although she discusses the debate and certainly opened my eyes to some of the issues under discussion. I did not appreciate at the time, for example, that a play on words in Mansfield Park about the Royal Navy's "rears and vices" was in fact a reference to sodomy! Austen may have been a maiden aunt, Tomalin says, but she was not unaware of the ways of the world.

The book gives an insight into the lives of, for want of a better word, the middle classes of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It was striking, for example, just how many of Jane's sisters-in-law died giving birth to a tenth of eleventh baby.

If you like Jane Austen's work and want an interesting but easy introduction to her life, read this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIghly recommended 31 Oct 2009
By Jam jar
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is exceedingly well written, and easy to read. If you have always loved Austen's novels - as I have - then this provides new insights into her characters. It's a fascinating look at the society in which Austen lived. Above all, it is a really good read.
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