17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Probably the best reference work on Jane Austen,
This review is from: Jane Austen in Context (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen) (Paperback)
I have a huge passion for Jane Austen's novels, her life and early 19th century women's history, and have read nearly all the important critical works, biographies, monographs and commentaries. This one (along with 'Regulated Hatred', D.W. Harding's psychological reading of her works) is one of my very favourite reference works on Austen. Each chapter is written by an academic specialist in the field, and subjects covered include consumer goods, Austen's publishing history, money, disease, agriculture, and landownership.
Some of the detail will be familiar, but even experienced Austen-philes and Jane-ites will learn something new. Each chapter is really engaging and well-written, and the scholarship very trustworthy. You won't just learn about context; this book will completely illuminate Austen's subtext for you, and increase your admiration for England's greatest novelist.
Though 'Jane Austen in Context' seems to be intended for an undergraduate audience, it is nevertheless immensely readable and regular Austen enthusiasts would love it. I recently lost my 2005 copy and paid full price - despite having already read it from cover to cover - to replace it, just because I felt my Jane Austen bookshelf was incomplete without it. HIGHLY recommended.