Kirkus Reviews QR Code
JANE AUSTEN by Catherine Reef


A Life Revealed

by Catherine Reef

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 18th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-37021-7
Publisher: Clarion

It is either daring or foolish—or both—to use the subtitle, "A Life Revealed," when the biographer states that little is known about the biographee. It is true that much is known about Jane Austen's novels now, thanks to films, adaptations and television specials, "[b]ut very little is known about the woman herself." Of the thousands of letters she wrote, only 139 survive, the rest destroyed for reasons unknown. She was a writer but left no diaries. What is a biographer to do to fill in the many, many lacunae? Provide whatever information is available about cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers, father, mother, nephews—all of which can become confusing without a Venn diagram. Then...give plot summations of Austen's novels. Those who have read the books or seen the films—the book’s likely audience—may not need these book reports, which take up a sizable portion of the biography. Reef's histories of Austen's travels and her observations of Georgian society and its movements nicely delineate the settings and people her subject used as material, and Austen's sometimes acerbic comments about her characters help enliven the explications of the novels. Illustrations are mostly from movies and early-20th-century editions as well as portraits. Perhaps this work will lead readers to Jane Austen and imaginatively apply the facts of the author's life to the novels—or vice-versa. (afterword, family trees, notes, selected bibliography, index) (Biography. 12 & up)