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The Real Jane Austen Hardcover – 17 Jan 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (17 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007358326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007358328
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘Brilliantly illuminating … Its great merit is … by focusing on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allow us to grasp the richness of Austen's inner life’ Guardian

‘Perceptive and energetic’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A neat approach to biography, allowing Byrne to burrow deep beneath the surface of Austen’s existence. The result is a delightful and engrossing portrait’ Sunday Times

‘Byrne's essays add up to a fine appraisal of the novelist's environment, truly Austenish in the way they burrow into a sequestered and often secretive private world’ Observer

‘A perceptive and energetic guide to Austen and her surroundings … Byrne’s critical study consists of a series of beautifully written, interrelated essays … [her] style gives fresh charms to her subject matter. ‘The Real Jane Austen’ is bold, fast-moving and accessible’ Daily Telegraph

‘Engaging, compelling, a delightful and engrossing book. Of course we all know that the "real" Jane Austen will forever be a mystery, but most 21st century Janeites will adore this one. Byrne's passion is nothing if not persuasive’ Sunday Times

‘What is fresh in Byrne's biographical approach is her use of a succession of contemporary objects that Austen owned, or that might be seen in intimate connection with her interests … this adds an attractive immediacy to a well-known story … Byrne's affectionate study paints a pleasingly lively picture of Austen's life’ Independent

‘Brilliantly illuminating … riveting. By focusing, chapter by chapter, on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allows us to grasp the richness of her inner life’ Simon Callow, Guardian

‘The portrait of Austen that emerges is sparklingly multi-faceted, catching the light in intriguing ways … her Jane is far less likely to go for a quiet walk in the garden than she is to be whisked into town in search of a velvet cushion, a necklace or a smart new dress’ Irish Mail on Sunday

From the Back Cover

Acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne explores the forces that shaped the interior life of one of the most beloved novelists in the English language: her father's religious faith; her mother's aristocratic pedigree; her eldest brother's adoption; her relatives in the East and West Indies; the family's amateur theatricals; and her determination throughout her long struggle to become a published author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture. Like a superb archaeologist, Byrne uses artifacts from Jane Austen's life to craft a vivid and more complex portrait of the writer than we have ever seen. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Hardcover
Paula Byrne's Jane Austen is as much a product of the imagination as all the other Jane Austens of biography. It must be so because we have - as Byrne candidly admits - so very little evidence about Austen's life. There never was very much. Austen was an almost entirely private person, and her devoted sister, already by the 1840's experiencing the over-enthusiasm of "Janeites", carefully destroyed any letters that might have excited the Paula Byrnes of her day. Biographers ever since - their name is legion - have relied on magnifying a few remaining scraps from Austen herself, and from the second and third generation reminiscences of her family.

Byrne's USP is to turn the magnifier on some "real" - that is, solid - fragments that remain to this day, surviving relics worshipped by the faithful. Among them are Austen's portable writing-desk (her "laptop"), the topaz crosses that Charles Austen bought for Jane and Cassandra from his prize-money, and "Volume the Second" of Austen's juvenalia. Byrne builds on these and other objects to give us essays on Austen's writing habits, family relationships, and social attitudes. This is an interesting technique, especially as the book includes very good colour photographs of all the objects mentioned.

Some of said objects are a bit remote from Austen. A wonderful Zoffany portrait of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield's daughter is there to introduce the "colonialist" reading of Mansfield Park - making it a novel about slavery - which Patricia Rozema made famous in her 1999 film. Lord Mansfield's appeal court judgement released any slave who set foot in England; Jane Austen met his daughter at a Godmersham dinner party (years after both the portrait and the judgement); therefore Mansfield Park is named for Mansfield and is all about slavery.
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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a biography with a difference, in which the author takes an item that Jane Austen either owned, used or would have seen and uses it as a springboard to discuss aspects of her life. These range from an East Indian Shawl, which leads on to discussions of husband hunting in the Raj, the harsh realities of the Georgian marriage market and even the French Revolution; a Barouche, which obviously prompts talk of travel, domestic in Austen's case with the country at war for much of her life; or a Card of Lace, which leads to the delights of shopping - and the notoriety of shoplifting... In fact, each object, from a Royalty Cheque, a Bathing Machine or 'The Laptop', results in a wide range of topics and how each aspect of Jane Austen's life experiences, from her family, writing influences, her love of the theatre, neighbours and romances and betrothals, not only influenced her personally, but were used to great effect in her writing.

If you have never read a biography of Austen before, you may find this one jumps around a little, but it is a delightful read. If you have read many books about Jane Austen, you will still enjoy this book - and maybe even learn something new. With so many books about Austen on the market, it is a good attempt to try an original approach to this ever fascinating author, who was intelligent, witty and always realistic. Within this book you will read of her deep disquiet about the dangers of pregnancy, her religious faith and her wonderfully sharp and witty humour. Jane Austen never disappoints as a writer, or as a woman, and this is a fitting tribute to her genius.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm only a few chapters into this lovely biography of Austen, and (especially as a fellow alumna of Liverpool University!) am greatly enjoying Dr Byrne's scholarly yet accessible style and her original approach to her subject. This is the sort of book that makes you want to go back to the novels again, no matter how many times you have read them. I have also added Austen's juvenile works to my must-read list for this year. If you think you know your Austen, think again...
My only small criticism is of the dustjacket to this hardback edition - while very pretty in its way it looks like the wrapper for a lightweight chick-lit novel and bears no relation to the actual content!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Don't be deceived by the title or the cover picture. This is a meticulously-researched and comprehensive biography of Jane Austen. The author begins each chapter with an object from Georgian times and uses it as a starting point for one of the main themes of Austen's life and work. For me, this, rather than a chronological approach, really brought the subject to life.

I have always loved Jane Austen's novels, but never thought that the woman herself was very interesting. This superb biography has proved me wrong.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading `Pride and Prejudice' or `Northanger Abbey' from a young age are some of my fondest memories, as my childhood, teenage years and adulthood have been interlaced with Austen's elegance, erudition and perception on romance. Her stories (read in books and watched on film in numerous adaptations) are as dear to me as history itself, for they speak of truth and are a perfect example of acute character-study. Austen understands people so well that regardless of whether it is 1800 or 2013, we are able to relate to her works and as a result can spot a Cornel Brandon or a Lizzie Bennett anywhere.

This beautiful, exquisite book is a delight to behold and is something that many an adoring fan of Jane Austen will treasure for all-time. This landmark biography reveals the woman behind her works, by painting a vivid picture of this iconic writer whose entire person has altered and defined our lives (for I cannot think of anyone who has not herd of Austen?!).

In this new biography, bestselling author Paula Byrne explores the forces that shaped the interior life of Britain's most beloved novelist: her father's religious faith, her mother's aristocratic pedigree, her eldest brother's adoption, her other brothers' naval and military experiences, her relatives in the East and West Indies, her cousin who lived through the trauma of the French Revolution, the family's amateur theatricals, the female novelists she admired, her residence in Bath, her love of the seaside, her travels around England and her long struggle to become a published author.
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