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4.3 out of 5 stars13
4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2005
This is without a doubt one of the best Jane Austen related books. Le Faye starts with a concise biography of Jane Austen, to help readers put her life into some sort of historical context. The second part of the book deals with all sorts of Life & Times issues - carriages, clothing, occupations, architecture, coinage, filigree.... and of course she explains that Gowlands Lotion, so heartily recommended by Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, was actually a sort of chemical peel!
The third part of the book looks at each of the novels in turn, and includes the fragments The Watsons and Sandition. Le Faye gives a synopsis of the plot of each novel and along the way picks out things for us that would have needed no explanation to contemporary readers, but may now need some enlargement. For example in the Sense & Sensibility chapter she tells us about the places in London where the characters live or lodge, and what this says about them and their status.
On top of all this, the book is beautifully illustrated with period county maps, contemporary portraits that match Austen's character descriptions and of course illustrations of all the Life & Times elements discussed - filigree work, fashion plates, coinage examples, etc. In a word: Excellent!
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on 23 March 2004
If you want a book which provides in-depth analysis into the wealth of characterisation, psychology etc. in Jane Austen's work, this isn't the book for you. If however, you want something which tells you all about the background behind her writing the novels, both in terms of the circumstances of their compostion, and int erms of life and social trends in that period, I would whole-heartedly recommend this book. Also, this is a book which does exactly what it says on the cover, it tells you abot the world of her novels. le Faye has meticulously extracted every last detail from her novels, to create a comprehensive guide to the settings of her books. For example, when talking about Emma, we are led through the town of Highbury, with Le Faye confidently describing every last building and its relation to the events of the story. Another example would be in Persuasion, where Le Faye gave the correct order of precedence for the charaacters when entering and leaving the room.
This is not just a book about the early 19th century, nor is it just a book about Jane Austen. For anyone who longs to be a character in a Jane Austen novel, this is for you. SOmething drew me to this book, as just being a fundamentally nice book to have. Perhaps not an outstandingly scholarly read, but enjoyable and fascinating nonetheless.
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on 7 May 2006
Le Faye has written an exceptional book which truly sets the reader in the time period Austen was writing.What impressed me most was the very readable style it has been written in with close attention to all details mentioned in her novels truly assisting the reader to have a feel of what was going on in England socially and economically aswell as highlighting world affairs at the time.

A great companion to add depth in ones appreciation of Jane Austen novels as well as detailed explanations to social life and nuiances in Regency England.
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on 5 December 2015
Adding the contents of this book that has been produced to an exceptionally high standard to the advanced YORK study notes, and, What Matters in Jane Austen ( John Mullan ), it is possible to get a really detailed background to the great ladies novels. If you can retain all this information there will be little left to absorb about Jane's masterpieces.
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on 29 November 2009
This was very broad and gave me a good and useful background to Jane Austen and her time,short of a detailed biography
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A must have for fans of Jane Austen's novels. The book is beautiful, pretty well written and rich in illustrations.
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on 5 August 2013
If you like Jane Austen ,you will like this informative and well written history of her times life and period
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on 24 March 2015
This is exactly what I wanted. It explains the social background of the stories.
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on 8 May 2013
I was given the book as a Christmas gift and I occasionally dip into it. I think it would be useful if you are studying Austen.
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on 8 February 2009
Interesting book which gives an insight to the time of Jane Austen putting her books in context. Worth a read for Austen fans!
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