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I knit, I sew, I run, I look after children and hamsters, I take truly terrible pictures, I cook, I complain.  Sometimes all at the same time.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Jane Austen, A Life by Claire Tomalin

I started this book just at the end of last year, and finished it the other day.  What a wonderful book.  From actually very little evidence, Claire Tomalin has managed to piece together a very creditable account of Jane Austen's life.  I've never felt that the sainted Jane was a shrinking violet - her novels are sharp, witty and to the point, with a lot of truth in them about human weakness, vanity and the way that people are incredibly unpleasant to each other while maintaining a social mask. 

It is particularly strong on Mansfield Park, a book I'm ashamed to say I've only read once.  While I know Persuasion backwards, and Pride and Prejudice very well indeed, Mansfield Park's difficult, unloveable heroine has never really appealed to me, but having read this excellent analysis, I am going to give it another go.  I'm sure Jane Austen is overjoyed to hear it. 


  1. Loved this biography. It was one of the first I actually managed to read right through without needing to read something else at the same time. It made me look at Austen afresh and is an excellent response to those who dismiss her as saccharine and lightweight.

  2. A lovely biography. It made me fall in love with Austen's work. :)