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4.5 out of 5 stars
65
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Real Jane Austen
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on 26 September 2015
Bought this partly because of her superb Waugh biography 'Mad World' and this book lived up to my explanations. Is not a conventional biography but takes a number of facts of Austen's life as exemplified by an object, and builds on those to give an informative and always interesting account. Except for the books, Austen's life was not exciting but this book makes it always absorbing.
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on 30 August 2013
All eighteen chapters refer to objects which were important, in different contexts, to Jane Austen and her family and the society in which they lived. The detailed descriptions of these objects and their connections with Jane Austen are fascinating and well-researched. This is a new and different approach to presenting Jane Austen and her legacy.
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on 27 September 2015
A brilliantly written book interweaving the life of Jane Austen and the social and political history of Georgian England. Using Jane's own letters and objects that once belonged to her as points of reference, this is a book that will delight all Jane Austen admirers and make them want to read her her books yet again with a greater insight.
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on 4 June 2013
Paula Byrne's biography "The Real Jane Austen, A Life in Small Things" catches a glimpse of Jane Austen through a kaleidoscope of sources. Byrne arranges the book in 18 chapters. Each focuses on a concrete object known by or owned by Jane Austen. Like an archeologist piecing together fragments of her life, Byrne uses this technique to mirror Jane Austen's writing style. In the prelude, Byrne writes, "Her novels were grounded in the real world. In order to create them, she drew upon the reality that she knew, the people, the places, the events" (Byrne, p.2). Likewise, Byrne uses everyday objects (pictured in glossy, coloured photos) to weave together the fabric of Austen's story.

As an archeologist, Byrne relies heavily on primary sources. The 30 pages of notes/credits and a 14-page index heavily attribute Austen's letters and novels, as well as statements of those who personally knew her. Like a tour guide, Byrne highlights objects and primary sources in order to produce an authentic biography that is uncluttered by opinions of the generations between then and now. By paying attention to the small things, Byrne sketches a portrait Jane Austen's mind - the result is a beauty that will never fade.

Mary Thurlow
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on 1 October 2014
Wonderful book. I read it from the Library when it first came out and decided I would like to have it for keeps. Such A clever idea and so effective. It involves one with Jane Austen's life more effectively than just words.
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on 3 March 2014
Describing things and events that Jane Austen would have known and experienced gave a much broader picture of her life. I enjoyed this book more than the standard biographies I have read in the past.
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on 14 March 2013
Have not read this yet. Bought it because of interesting review in The Guardian. Looking forward to trying it. yes
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on 8 March 2013
Terribly disappointing.
A very contrived mechanism which doesn't really work.
Writing is redolent of a post-graduate thesis.
Does not live up to the publishing hype
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on 19 July 2014
This is an interesting and unusual view into the life and writing of Jane Austen. Exploring objects mentioned in her work and those known to have bolonged to her
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on 19 October 2016
Bought as a present having read Belle by the same author. Delivery was in time for the birthday and the present has been appreciated.
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