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JANE AUSTEN by Deirdre Le Faye

JANE AUSTEN

By Deirdre Le Faye

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-19-521440-4
Publisher: Oxford Univ.

This entry in the British Library Writers’ Lives series begins with an admission that a paucity of documentary evidence puts Austen “a bit beyond camera range.” Le Faye composes a tale of family and friends, births and marriages, and comings and goings that, but for its lack of romantic plot line, is itself Austen-like. The cast is a large one, and readers may tire of all the names, but, where she can, Le Faye shows connections between real and fictional people and places while imparting a clear sense of what life was like in the circles of local gentry through which Austen moved. The illustrations, most in full-color, are a plus: a well-chosen mix of contemporary portraits, reproductions of manuscripts and letters (including Austen’s first rejection), street scenes, and maps. This is likely to be dry work for readers unfamiliar with the novels, but even if diverting anecdotes are rare, the volume is concise, serviceable, and authoritative. (further reading, chronology, index) (Biography. 12+)